Ask RideApart: How Do I Safely Park My Motorcycle On The Street

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Ask RideApart

You ask, the community answers, it’s Ask RideApart. This week: How do I safely park my motorcycle on the street?

Reader Sam writes, “Hi, I live in Washington D.C. and park my motorcycle on the street. It has been knocked down several times and I don’t know what to do about it. Is there a high visibility cover or anything else that could help automotive drivers see my bike better or stop them from knocking it over?”

What street parking tips can you guys share with Sam? He should probably be thinking about security too, right?

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  • Mark Vizcarra

    I never understood why people that ride cruisers turn their handlebars to the right instead of left to park their bikes. Seems idiotic knowing that the fork locks to the left. Ive done it before, but it feels unstable to me.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      That’s a BMW, not a cruiser.

      • Daniel

        I think he might mean in general…but yeah.

      • Scott Sweeney

        Reminds me of my non-riding friends.

        “Oh, do you have a Harley?”

        No

        “Oh then you have a crotch rocket?”

        No

        Puzzlement.

        • Piglet2010

          I tell people I ride a Montesa-Honda Deauville. : )

          • Harve Mil

            Gesundheit

    • Justin McClintock

      I’m not sure why they leave them that way when parked, but if you turn your handlebars to the left prior to lifting the bike off the sidestand, it’s FAR easier, especially with heavier bikes.

    • Lee Scuppers

      Looks cool. I see them a lot with the front wheel straight. Looks pretty good!

      Also, my Virago 250 locked to the right, no foolin’. And it looked cruiserish and had the key on the side (the better to snap it off when I practiced skids in a wet lot and dumped it). so I wondered if real cruisers maybe lock that way? Or maybe you see a lot of Viragos!

  • Rameses the 2nd

    Unfortunately, there is no safe way to park motorcycle on the street. The best thing you can do is to find another group of motorcycles and park close to them. In Chicago, you can park motorcycles in “permit” only parking spots without any permit, so if your city allows it, find a street with permit parking and there is a less chance of your bike being knocked over by some ignorant idiot. I also never park my motorcycle on major streets; I saw a CBR trashed on the side of Cicero avenue (a major north-south street in Chicago) a month ago. It was early morning and I cringed on my way to work thinking about the owner of that poor bike.

    If you can find cheap parking near work, get it. Go talk to parking garages where you park. They sometimes have small spots (not big enough for cars) and they are willing to rent those for cheap.

    Finally, if you live in a city, get a full coverage on your motorcycle.

    • Mr. White

      Rameses, that’s my favorite thing about riding a bike in Chicago, getting to park in the permit areas! Worth the cost of the medallion.

  • APG7

    Invest in a high viz pylon/traffic cone. Stick it by where you usually park. I have one right by my bike and it works nicely. Also, I park mine in a large metal bike rack which is super awesome.

  • Dan

    Hiz viz cover might not help too much – the issue is (1) that drivers are looking for other cars, not bikes, so it doesn’t register mentally and (2) the bike probably sits too low for them to see in a rear view mirror. High viz might help in catching someone’s eye as they’re walking to their car, but again I think people are mostly on autopilot during their approach.

    If possible, try to park at the (top) end of the street (or other interruption like a fire hydrant), so you’re in front of everyone. That way at least you’re directly in view, and only have one angle to worry about. Parking near other bikes helps to increase the visual mass as well.

  • Alberto Morgado

    Never stop your motorcicle on the streets at Brazil… NEVER… allways look for a parking that accept motorcycles… use a chain to block your wheel too…

  • Nathan Haley

    Some bikes are remarkably more stable when you turn the wheel all the way to the left. (some – especially dirt bikes and dirt-biased dual-sports – are better when you turn the wheel to the right) If your bike has a steering lock, it’s probably more stable on the side on which the steering lock engages.

  • Larry

    Bikes seem just as invisible to cars when parked as they are in motion. Having said that, IF possible and you have a choice between parking in front of or behind a car on the street choose the spot where the driver will be staring out his windshield at your bike. At very least this will give you a 40% chance that they’ll see it. You can also try to park towards the “front” of the parking block, so there will be less chance of cars coming and going in front of you later…ie, backing into your bike while parallel parking. But then I’ve gotten off work to find my bike pointing the wrong direction, one time with the back wheel up on the curb. Some people have no problem laying their hands on your bike so they can squeeze their SUV into a spot.

  • Diego Martinez

    I just park mine on the sidewalk out of the way, never been ticketed yet. Anywhere a car can knock it over is basically unsafe. Think of it as Murphy’s law of motorcycle parking.

  • Jono

    Unfortunately you cant make people aware of their environments. Motorcyclists in general are hyper aware of there surrounding because they have to be, your average soccer mum.. not so much.
    So i try to memorise a few good spots in my weekly routine and park with my bars ends against/flush with a wall (the bike is still on the stand), it means that if some one nudges it off the stand it just tips harmlessly onto the bar and stays upright. Of course this works better for bike with flat, wide bars.
    Just my 2c. =)

  • Mark D

    If you have a scooter, try parking it on the sidewalk. If you can find a spot that doesn’t block pedestrian traffic, try leaving on the sidewalk near your apartment building.

    But street parking sucks. I once watched helplessly from the 3rd floor of my building as I saw a pizza delivery lady slowly back into my bike…the horror, the horror.

  • E Brown

    Like Ramses, I’m in Chicago, and I agree that there’s safety in numbers. On my block, about 6 motorcycles park together and we haven’t had a problem (okay, most people don’t know 3 of them are mine!); one BMW /5 parked always solo at the other end of the street and I saw it knocked over 3 or 4 times before the owner gave up and sold it or junked it.

    Also agree with avoiding main thoroughfares – busier streets with businesses mean more parking turnover means more chances of a poor driver hitting your bike. A mixed-use or residential street has cars sitting for days or weeks – find something dusty and/or leaf-covered and park in front of that. If the street is one-way, you want to park on the side the driver’s door will be when parking or leaving – more visible, easier to judge for the driver.

    Though the ends of the block may seem like high visibility, it also increases the odds of someone trying to squeeze their 1976 Buick Electra 225 into the space of the Smart Fortwo that was parked there when you left. Towards the center is better, where things are tighter and optimists have less to work with.

    Away from driveways, bus stops, and alley entrances is also better, so you don’t get clipped when someone misjudges a turn.

    While off the street is ideal, don’t take a chance you can squeeze into a lot’s unused space with impunity; here in Chicago, towing companies charge over $500 for motorcycles, a healthy chunk of my CB400T and NT650′s total value, and more than fixing them if some nimrod on the street knocked them over.

    Lastly, if your homeowner buddy offers to let you park in his drive, consider passing. Home driveways are where inattentive drivers start out and wind up – your chances of his wife or newly-licensed offspring pull in unaware and hitting the bike are worse than those of someone on the street hitting your baby. The exception is if he rides, and your bike is in his spot. :)

    • Rameses the 2nd

      You got some balls to have three motorcycles without having a garage. Street parking is the only reason I am hesitant to buy a second bike.

      • E Brown

        Hasn’t really been an issue, other than moving them for street-cleaning days. :) Aside from the CBR600RR, they’re all older and “lived-in” so there’s no need to be fussy with them.

  • gregory

    Park near other bikes. Park under a lamp. Park under cover, if possible. Park away from crowds, but still in the open. Generally, I pull up onto the sidewalk and pull in between two trees, parallel to the street. Otherwise, I park next to the bicycle rack.

    • Maximus

      Doesn’t that get you a ticket for parking on the sidewalk, though? I’m in SF and I feel like they ticket for any minor infraction…

  • oneleftarm

    agreed with rameses…groups are by far the best. if that’s not possible, in general, i try to imagine what the nearest car might see. if it’s a suv or truck, don’t park behind in the blind spot. fire hydrants are best…in nyc they mostly ignore the 15ft rule, one parking cop said his opinion was the firemen could move a 500lb bike if they needed to.
    that said, my monster was knocked over in the spring and totalled. apparently small cracks in the crankcase are really expensive. get full coverage.

  • Piglet2010

    If the bike had a center-stand, I always use it (even on the Bonnie where the pivot point is wrong), unless I have to park uphill on the Dullsville – too hard to get bike back off it. And if there is an out of the way place on a sidewalk I will use it, particularly on the scooter.

  • kevin

    I think Wes wrote an article somewhere on here about filling a garbage can with cement and chaining your bike to it. If that’s an option that applies to your situation it’s probably good advice. you could paint the garbage can dayglo orange or something in hopes that it would be more visible so people wouldn’t run into your bike, and it would serve as a great theft deterant as well.

  • ThinkingInImages

    Most motorcycles are invisible behind SUVs, vans, and trucks, more so low slung motorcycles. Some motorcycles with side-stands only are a bit too upright on their side-stands, too (my CBR comes to mind). Parking on the street becomes a bit of a game of “best place”. As a side note: I sometimes photograph the vehicles in front of and behind my motorcycle, plates included, if I think there’s any risk of one of them tipping my motorcycle – just in case.

    All that being said, I have a disk lock/alarm combo that has motion sensors. It will sound an alarm if the motorcycle is tapped. On other motorcycles I’ve installed alarms with motion sensors

  • vanillanitemare

    Park on the side walk. If you cover the bike you may never get a ticket. Even if you get one a couple of times a year, it beats the time and $$$ for repairs. I live in NYC and strangely…no tickets for sidewalk parking for me in 2 years.