Should motorbikes be allowed to park on footpaths?
MOTORCYCLISTS are pushing to be allowed to park on Tasmanian footpaths to help reduce peak hour traffic congestion.
Spokesman for the Motorcycle Riders Association Australia, Damien Codognotto OAM said. “The Hobart City Council vote (June 29, 2022) is great news. Hobart’s traffic and parking problems are getting worse. Increased motorcycle commuting means less congestion and more car parking space and, as electric machines become popular, more motorcycle parking is good for the environment too.”
Damien Codognotto OAM
Hobart City Council vote on Cr Zucco’s motion for a road motorcycle & scooter parking report unanimously in favour.
29 June 2022
ULYSSIAN BRUCE JONES WROTE ABOUT MOTORCYCLE FOOTPATH PARKING FOR RIDING ON MAGAZINE
I was walking back to my Triumph after leaving the Bendigo bank in Eaglehawk (Vic), and saw a man coming towards me looking at my bike, which was parked on the footpath near the bank’s corner.
I was expecting questions about the bike and instead got, “You can’t park your motorbike there d@#k%&ad!”, to which I replied, “Actually, the law says I can.”
What followed was a short conversation and I left (I had other things to do and my tolerance for bombastic ignorance is limited to say the least).
I raised it at brunch one morning and another member said he had a Bylaws officer actually issue him with a fine. He took it around to the City of Greater Bendigo who agreed with him that he shouldn’t have been fined, cancelled it, and had the Bylaws officer call him back to apologise.
So, can you park your motorbike on footpaths? The short answer is that in Victoria, you can; but not other states. But the more I checked, the more caveats I found to that statement, hence this article.
I copied the following from https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/road-rules/a-to-z-of-road-rules/motorcycles:
In Victoria, you can park your motorcycle on a footpath, unless there is a sign saying you can’t. When parking you must not get in the way, or block the path of pedestrians, delivery vehicles, public transport users or parked cars.
On-street motorcycle parking bays are available in Melbourne’s Central Business District and other urban areas throughout Victoria.
The responsibility for the enforcement of footpath parking lies with Councils. To find out more about your local parking laws, visit Local Councils. Penalties will apply if you park in motorcycle excluded areas.
With reference to blocking the path of pedestrians, I found the following in Google under, ‘the correct way to park your motorcycle on a pavement’:
Park at least one motorcycle wheel diameter back from the road kerb to allow pedestrians free access to and from the road and to parked vehicles (you can leave less space between your motorcycle and the kerb if you park next to a ‘No Stopping’ zone).
I have since found the following list of restrictions to parking a motorcycle on a footpath in Melbourne on
Motorcycle parking is not permitted on the footpath adjacent to any parking bay reserved for people with disabilities (marked with the international symbol of access).
Do not park your motorcycle on or near service access points such as manhole covers and underground access points.
Motorcycle parked with front tyre partially on a covered underground access point
Do not park your motorcycle near taxi ranks, bus stops or tram stops.
Do not park your motorcycle in a spot that will obstruct access to a ticket machine or meter.
Motorcycle parked very close to a ticket machine
Do not park your motorcycle where space is reserved for footpath activities such as street cafes. These areas can be identified by Footpath Dining Boundary markers.
City of Melbourne Footpath Dining Boundary marker
Do not park your motorcycle in a way that obstructs pedestrians using the footpath.
Parked motorcycle obstructing a narrow footpath
Do not park your motorcycle in a way that obstructs doorways and shop entrances.
Parked motorcycle obstructing a door with signs ‘Keep doorway clear. Fire safety door, do not obstruct’
Do not park your motorcycle in a way that obstructs rubbish bins, post boxes or other on-street infrastructure.
Motorcycles parked very close to a street litter bin
Note these are from the City of Melbourne and not Vicroads, but if you read through the above, they are fair and reasonable requests. I also had a leaflet from Vicroads that didn’t have the above listed but did request motorcyclists not to park close to buildings as that causes difficulties for the visually impaired. I’ve seen many park contrary to the above out of ignorance or choice to ignore, but we do well to take them seriously as our hold on this liberty is tenuous.
The above reference from Melbourne Council continues:
Motorcycle parking on the footpath is not permitted in these locations:
on footpaths adjacent to disabled parking areas
Collins Street, between Exhibition Street and George Parade (south side)
Flinders Lane, between Elizabeth Street and Cocker Alley (South side)
Exhibition Street, adjacent to Her Majesty’s Theatre (west side)
From mid-May 2020 motorcycle parking is not allowed on footpaths in the following locations, on both sides of the road:
William Street, between La Trobe and Bourke streets
Bourke Street, between William and Spencer streets
Collins Street, between King and Spencer streets
Little Bourke Street, between Swanston and Queen streets
Little Collins Street, between Elizabeth and Queen streets
Flinders Lane, between Elizabeth and Queen streets
Flinders Street, between Elizabeth and Queen streets
Elizabeth Street, between Collins and Flinders streets
Signs at these locations clearly state that motorcycle parking on the footpath is not allowed. Fines apply if you park a motorcycle there illegally.
No standing sign for motorcycles on a footpath
It is difficult to remember that list of locations unless you’re frequently riding to an area in Melbourne. I think the ‘take home’ from that list though is to first look for motorcycle bays and for signs forbidding motorcycle parking on the footpath and comply.
There is also a similar ban in Acland Street, St Kilda that was introduced in 2016. At the time there were strong protests. But the ban on the above designated areas in Melbourne was proposed and passed on 18 February 2020 with significantly less protest because 36 car parks were changed into 151 free motorcycle parks. The argument behind the ban in Melbourne was that a report commissioned by the City of Melbourne found that 14% of CBD footpaths overflowed with pedestrians during peak hours. The above streets were targeted to help alleviate that.
So, why are we allowed to park on footpaths in Victoria at all? I tried to find a more authoritative answer but failed to do so. The story that was handed to me (and I stand to be corrected) was that restrictions were going to be introduced to motorcycle parking in the CBD in the early 80’s. The Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) organised motorcyclists to come into the CBD before sunrise and park on most if not all car parking spaces throughout the city, moving their bikes to the next one as time periods expired. You can imagine the impact that had on Melbourne. The State government of the day got the message, decided that motorbikes parking on pavements was conducive to good parking overall, and we got a ‘get out of getting fined’ card.
But, what about other states in Australia? First, you can get fined if you park on footpaths. It’s not allowed as no other state has adopted it. Generally, experience tells me you can park in car parks with more than one bike and you pay where a ticket is required. But I have heard of motorcyclists being booked in Perth for parking in a car park instead of a motorcycle park, so a bit more research seemed wise.
So, starting with the City of Perth, I found their rules clearly say, ‘You must park in a marked motorcycle bay. Parking in a regular bay will attract an infringement.’ They also make it clear that normal parking fees apply. Note though that Perth has many allocated motorcycle bays.
When I looked at other capitals, I find the standard line for all states is the same rules for cars apply to motorcycles. So, if motorcycle parking is available where you’re going, use it. But it’s fine to use a car park and they turn a blind eye to more than one bike being parked in the one bay.
There is some debate regarding paying if it is a metered spot. Unless otherwise advised, I think the safe thing is to pay the money if you’re not sure. What I suggest is if you’re doing an interstate trip, just google the motorcycle parking for the specific state(s) and city/ies you intend to park in.
There is one other thing. I rode to Doncaster Shopping town and went to pay for their undercover park, only to be told to simply go around the booms and don’t pay. Even more embarrassing, I went to Canberra’s National Art Gallery car park, pushed the button, and the boom wouldn’t lift. I had a queue of cars behind me before a helpful person told me to just go around the boom. There were motorcycle bays inside. So now where there are car parks with boom gates, I tend to go around. The exception is parking at Tullamarine. You can go in on a motorbike, but you have to pay the same fee as you would for a car.
The Ulysses Club.
Bruce Jones’ footpath motorcycle parking article is very good. It is fair and objective. I find it strange that states and territories other than Victoria have not adopted motorcycle & scooter footpath parking. It encourages motorcycle & scooter commuting. That reduces traffic congestion and car parking shortages. You can park at least five motorcycles where you can fit only one car. And, motorcycles & scooters add colour and life to cities.
Tasmania in particular should adopt motorcycle footpath parking. It offers local and tourism benefits. Tourism is a major contributor to the Tasmanian economy. Victoria is Tasmania’s main source of two-wheel tourists so uniformity in parking laws makes sense.
In the early 1980s the original Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) in Melbourne was developing political muscles so we had some good connections. A back bencher, Jeff Kennett, was MRA Secretary Angie Killeen’s local MP. In those days, Melbourne was a motorcycle friendly city with a pro motorcycle Lord Mayor, Trevor Huggard. Motorcycle parking was getting to be a problem as the Victorian cities grew. The MRA lobbied for a better deal.
There were researchers and bureaucrats then that felt exposure to motorbikes had to be reduced to reduce the road toll. In 2023 they still exist. It was easier for them than pointing finger at car drivers who did most of the damage. But that’s off topic. Direct action was needed on many issues including parking.
Back then, the big retail stores in Melbourne had just 3 hours trading on a Saturday. Saturday morning shopping was like the “six o’clock swill” at pubs. There was almost no off-street car parking. On-street car bays mostly had a 1 hour limit.The MRA called on riders to come to town and park 1 bike to a car bay and feed the metre. 8000 turned up around 7am. Some brought folding chairs and beach umbrellas. As the metre expired the riders moved their machines to the next bay to stay legal. The big retailers lost money. The MRA was sorry but we did not cause this situation.
Car drivers were not best pleased. The MRA had riders hand drivers notes of apology. The notes said that parking laws were a mess and to contact the Town Hall and Parliament to complain. We supplied phone numbers. Bylaws officers and police were quietly supportive. At noon, we rode to Parliament House to present a submission to the State Opposition. The Media loved it.
By the end of 1986 free, unlimited, footpath motorcycle parking was state law in Victoria. Over nearly 40 years there have been few problems because footpath parking has built-in safeguards. Basically, you can’t block pedestrians. Any problems have mostly been solved by the Motorcycles In Melbourne Committee at the Town Hall. Riders do not want to loose footpath parking so they behave responsibly. There was a second park-in in 1995 when there was a threat to footpath parking in Melbourne. The threat failed. People power works.