Dear PoPville – Locking up a motorcycle/scooter

Photo by PoPville flickr user bajidc

“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if you could ask your readers (those who ride), how they lock their motorcycles/scooters? I’ve seen anchors around DC you can install into the curb, from which you can attach and lock up your bike from. I was hoping to find out the legality of this, and if I need permission from DC or something. I attached a picture (below) for clarification. I’m also open to other ideas readers may have.”

23 Comment

  • “Dear PoP, Is it legal for me to drill a hole into someone else’s property so I can attach my bike?”

    Answer: No.

  • Yes that is illegal.

    I have a motorcycle and just let it sit on the street. Much harder to carry off than a scooter though. I would get one of those massive kryptonite chains with the sleeve and put it around a post/sign. All these things are just deterrents though. Given enough time anyone can break through these defenses.

  • I have owned several scooters in DC over the last 4 years, and commute on one daily. We have the largest OnGuard brand chain called The Beast.

    This is ussually wrapped around a parking meter or something equally solid and runs through the back wheel of the scooter. We’ve never had one stolen with these locks. I think they just skip it and move on to an easier target.

    We had a scooter stolen (and recovered about 5 mins later) that was locked with a sleeved cable lock. The thieves cut through it with a bolt cutter in about 10 seconds.

    As far as putting an anchor in the ground on someone else’s property (or public property) I will echo the others…no go and probably illegal.

  • Agreed that using one of the really big OnGuard or Kryptonite chain locks to secure it to a street sign or equivalent is the best bet if you have to leave it on the street. It’s what I do and haven’t had issue with theft in four years or so.

    There have been, however, a couple instances where people tipped over my scooter when it was locked through the back wheel. Because people are dicks. To try and combat that, I now park the scooter next to a sign and wrap the chain all the way around the footwell, instead of through the wheel. This makes it at least tougher to tip, and affords the same security as above.

  • +1 on what Collin said.
    If you’re going to sink an anchor into the concrete, it needs to be your property (or you should have permission from your land lord).
    Do learn how to properly lock it up- through the rear wheel is preferable + heavy duty chain + a BIG tree trunk, metal lightpole, or a bike rack that cannot be pulled out of the ground. Do not use a little tree or a parking sign, those can (and do) get pulled up/chopped.
    If you can’t lock it to something, at the very least loop the chain through the rear wheel a couple of times and lock it to itself ( so it can’t be simply rolled away). You can also add a disc lock…some are available with alarms that will shriek if someone tries to fiddle with it. And always always lock it- even for a quick trip into the coffee shop or to go back inside to get something. No joke.

  • I live on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan and there’s a spot outside my building (on Quarry) where there’s usually 5 or so scooters chained up.

    A couple of weeks ago there was a lot of noise coming from the street – when I looked out there appeared to be someone working on his Vespa. The noise continued and when I checked back it as clear the guy was sawing through the U lock – he was giving off a torrent of sparks.

    I leaned out of the window and whistled down at him. He took off at high speed – clearly guilty. It was a pretty blatant daylight attempt.

    • KingKennyKop,

      I am the one with the sawed U lock Vespa. I owe you big on this one! Contact me when you can. Are you the one who called the Police ?
      What happened is the next morning, I saw my lock and was pretty shocked: someone sawed my lock and stopped less than 1/8 inch to the end. I instantly contacted another guy, the one who owns the red Vespa. He told me he arrived few minutes later and the Police interrogated him and explained what happened… Tall white guy with long hair and backpack. In it was the electric saw. He started and left when the Police showed up, apparently. It was 7:30-8pm. I must say, some have balls.
      I own the Vespa and the lock, a OnGuard duo chain and U lock, doesn’t seem to stopped him, maybe slowed him a bit :/ It seems he picked mine for being a little bit far from the main road. I moved it since but as other mentioned if I move it too close from the main road, people jump on it, or break mirrors.

  • Also note that only under-50cc scooters/mopeds may be parked on the sidewalk/curb. Everything else is technically a motorcycle under DC law and has to be on the street or you can get a $100 ticket.

    • Almost all scooters fall under the motorcycle category in DC and require licensing (that pesky 16″ wheel diameter rule).

      As a side note, I have parked on the sidewalk for years without a ticket. Just pop the tag under the seat when I park…this was actually recommended by a DC parking enforcement guy.

    • ontarioroader- wrong. DC has not 50-cc threshold for motorcycles. Vespas, etc. are motorcycles under DC law and require a license, registration, and insurance. If you get caught riding one w/out registration/tags, you can get arrested.

      See for more info.

      • I know they all need tags/regs, and I never mentioned anything about that, but if you look at that pdf you cite it says that under 50cc [and over 16″ wheel diameter] are allowed to park at bike racks and on the curb/sidewalk. This is basically just traditional mopeds with pedals. You are correct that you can get arrested for operating anything with a motor without tags.

  • Someone left one of those heavy duty chains locked around the streetlight in front of my house about 3 years ago. It is still there and is never used. And it is pretty ugly. Anyone know if the city will come remove it? Seriously, 3 years and I think I saw it used twice the first week they put it there.

  • I use two heavy Kryptonite chains & locks to keep my scooter to secure at my home using a Kryptonite anchor
    It is illegal to install one in a public area. When I move about town I only take one chainset. A couple of things you should do when you do lock up you scooter is make sure there isn’t any give or slack. Don’t wrap your chain around parking signs poles. I’ve seen poles lifted up and off the ground because the pole wasn’t anchored into into the ground. I’ve also seen poles bent in an attempt to get the chains off. Don’t chain you scooter to small trees, thieves will snap or cut the tree.
    If your going to be away or not using your scooter I would also recommend using a cheapo cover and disconnecting or removing the battery. Thieves hot-wiring the scooter will think it doesn’t work. In addition I don’t keep the tags on my scooter when it is locked up. I seen thieves stealing tags off scooters. Police explained to me that stolen scooter tags are often recovered on stolen motorcycles. Hopes this helps

  • I use one of the big On Guard locks through the back wheel – the front wheel can be easily removed, always lock through the back wheel.

    Also, I never lock the handlebars – those can be broken pretty easily and someone might do that before realizing that the wheel is locked anyway – then you have a broken steering column.

    I also have full loss coverage.

    So big lock + loss coverage and I just try not to worry about it too much.

    • What does your insurance run you if it is including full loss coverage?

      • Not cheap – about $400 per year ($35ish per month). But the peace of mind is worth it. If I didn’t live in a city I’d forego the loss coverage.

  • honestly, most chains can be cut. The idea is to make it as hard as possible so your scoot is not a “target of opportunity”

    I always keep my scoot covered when parked. Seems like it attracts a lot less attention that way…

  • just make sure you always always lock the back tire..
    otherwise this happens:

    had honda metropolitan stolen overnight on 18th and S st in dupont.

    make sure you get comprehensive insurance, otherwise they won’t cover theft. good luck!

  • Scooters are treated as motorcycles and should be on the street, not the sidewalk as mentioned above. The newer Vespa scooters have terrible kick stands that destroy brick, concrete or any surface they are used on. I ‘m also sick of dodging them as people drive them on the sidewalk in order to park. I routinely report these for ticketing.

  • I have two bikes, both are pretty nice, worth about ~$10k each. I have a shed I keep them in at home to protect them from the elements and thieves. When I ride them out, I park them where I can keep an eye on them. So I don’t lock mine up, but I’m really careful where I leave them parked. In case anything happens, I have full coverage insurance.

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