Dear PoPville – Should Scooters be Allowed to Park at Bike Racks?

“Dear PoPville,

I saw the post on how to lock a scooter yesterday. Someone parks their scooter right in front of the only bike rack on our block in Chinatown almost daily. There are a number of people in my building and at surrounding restaurants who rely on using it for their bikes every day. I don’t mind scooters on the sidewalk, but bombarding the bike rack seems a little bit much. What do you think is proper scooter etiquette for locking up?”

93 Comment

  • its fine!

    • No it’s not. Bicycles need to be locked to something,otherwise they can be easily carried away. Scooters can stand on their own just fine. Additionally,it is illegal.

      • Scooters can be carried away too.

      • “Scooters can stand on their own just fine.”


      • thats weird. ’cause on this DC site it says it’s not.

        • ah

          Scooters are in the motorcycle category, which in that chart it says “Motor vehicles rules apply, except that
          some areas are reserved for motorcycles only.”

          Motorized bicycles, for which one does not need a license, may be parked in a bike rack. But those require wheels >16″ and engine <50cc.

        • Read the “definition” column carefully. To be a moped it must meet _all_ those conditions. More than 1.5hp? Motorcycle,even if it’s only 50cc.

          • good point. The wording is a little confusing because under vehicle type it says “includes most mopeds and scooters” while the 1.5hp limit would clearly exclude most of the mopeds and scooters you see on the streets.

          • The 1.5 hp is brake horsepower, not engine horsepower.

        • in case people don’t read the DC DMV link above:
          if it’s 50cc or less, you can park it wherever you want, drive it on the sidewalk, etc.
          if it’s more than 50cc, its treated like a car

          • This is incorrect. It has to be under 50cc, wheels at least 16″ in diameter, less than 1.5hp, etc. It must meet all of these requirements to be parked on the sidewalk legally.

            This definition is met by most mopeds with pedals, and almost no step-through scooters that you see around town and are far more common.

            As far as parking in the bick rack for scooters and mopeds and bicycles and anything that can bea easily picked up and stolen, yes….all totally okay in my book. Just remember you can get a ticket if you park on the sidewalk with anything that doesn’t meet the above definition.

          • saf

            And no. That is not true. From the DC code linked above:

            “A motorcycle is a two or three wheeled vehicle that has one or more of the following characteristics: 1) piston
            displacement of more than fifty (50) cubic centimeters, 2)
            capable of traveling over 35 miles per hour on level ground, 3) more than one and one-half (1.5) brake horsepower (S.A.E. rating), 4) wheels under 16 inches in diameter, or 5) manual transmission.[4], [5]”

            On the other hand:
            “A motorized bicycle is a two or three wheeled vehicle with all of the following characteristics:
            1) wheels more than 16 inches in diameter, 2) automatic
            transmission, 3) piston displacement of not more than
            fifty (50) cubic centimeters, 4) incapable of maximum speed of over 35 miles per hour on level ground, and 5) not more than one and one-half (1.5) brake horsepower (S.A.E. rating). If the two or three wheeled motor
            vehicle does not meet one or more of these characteristics, it is a motorcycle. [4]”

            Motorized bicycles may be parked in a bike rack. Motorcycles may not.

  • how many bikes can fit on that rack anyway?

  • I ride my bike all the time. It’s my primary mode of transportation. I’ve had to go an extra half a block out of my direction from time to time to space on a bike rack, or sign post, or what have you to lock up.

    It’s marginally more annoying to find a scooter taking the last spot than another bike, but I have to say, in the grand scheme of “should this be allowed to happen in a city,” this is the smallest of small potatoes.

  • Only if I’m also allowed to park my motorcycle at a bike rack. And no, my motorcycle’s footprint is not much different than a Vespa. Those things are surprisingly large.

    • In DC, “scooters” such are motorcycles and are required to follow the same rules.

      • Not necessarily true. Only if their engines are over 50 cc’s. Otherwise they are considered motorized bicycles.

        • DC has a rule about wheel sized that makes all scooters, including those that only have 49cc’s, motorcycles.

          • 16″ is the threshold. Vespa LX 50 and Buddy 50 both have 10-11″ wheels.

          • saf


            Wheels MORE than 16 inches are required for it to be a motorized bicycle.

            ““A motorized bicycle is a two or three wheeled vehicle with all of the following characteristics:
            1) wheels more than 16 inches in diameter, 2) automatic
            transmission, 3) piston displacement of not more than
            fifty (50) cubic centimeters, 4) incapable of maximum speed of over 35 miles per hour on level ground, and 5) not more than one and one-half (1.5) brake horsepower (S.A.E. rating). If the two or three wheeled motor
            vehicle does not meet one or more of these characteristics, it is a motorcycle. [4]””

        • Wrong, Petvet. DC has no 50-cc threshold for motorcycles. Google “dc non-traditional motor vehicles”

          Please learn the facts before trying to correct others.

          • anon, you may have googled it, but you didn’t read it. “motorized bicycle (includes most mopeds and scooters) …3) piston displacement of not more than fifty (50) cubic centimeters.”

            E.g. a Buddy 50 scooter meets the criteria to be considered a motorized bicycle.

            facts are fun!

          • ah

            petvet-conjunctions are fun too.

          • It would meet the criteria, except it has wheels under 16″ in diameter.

        • Wrong. There is also the 16-inch wheel requirement, and scooters (aka motorcycles) have wheels smaller than 16 inches.

  • Ask the city and/or local businesses to put up more bike racks. Also check the parking garages for bike racks.

  • I disagree. I’d say that it seems like this may be a “needs of the one outweighing the needs of the many” here. Those bike racks are intended for at least 2-3 bikes at a minimum. Now, the city may be installing more U bike racks around town, but in busy urban business centers like Chinatown, bike locking locations can be still be hard to find in the mornings.

  • Of note: DC law says you can’t park a bicycle at a bike rack for more than 12 consecutive hours. I’m not sure whether it is legal to park a scooter at a bike rack, but if it is they certainly aren’t supposed to stay there as long as they frequently do.

    My pet peeve: I see someone who parks his scooter outside a nearby elementary school and leaves it there just about all the time. Meanwhile I see kids biking to school with their parents and they have no place to lock their bikes!

    • In my experience a bike that’s chained to a bike rack for more than 12 hours would get stolen during the night anyway.

  • If an acceptable alternative for scooters existed, then I would say that they shouldn’t be allowed at bike racks…but there isn’t an acceptable alternative. If you park a scooter in the street (where I think they are legally supposed to be) then they can easily be stolen and they WILL be stolen. There is rarely a poll close enough to the street to lock to without pulling up onto the sidewalk. Bike riders and scooter riders are alike in not wanting their mode of transportation to be stolen, so until the city finds a solution for parking and locking scooters somewhere other than bike racks, I think bike racks should be shared.

    • Oops. poll=pole

    • it shouldn’t be illegal, just frowned upon. like masturbating on a plane.

      there are a lot more options for the heavy duty chains to wrap around than the u-locks most bikes use. for example, a vespa could be parked at a street light, but a u-locked bike can’t be. so if all light posts and other larger structures are filled with vespas, and the bike rack is open, then a vespa should take the bike rack. otherwise, it should park elsewehre.

      • it’s just not the same since planes stopped loaning blankets, huh?

      • I agree. I’m a scooter person and there are more places to lock up than just bike racks. I choose bike racks last and I do park in the street unlocked whenever I feel like someone might have a problem with me driving up onto the sidewalk. I wish that the city would start recognizing that scooters are too easy to steal if we follow their rules (parking on the street with no where to lock to). Basically, right now, it’s break the law or have your scooter stolen. I don’t think it should be made legal for scooters to park at bike racks but that maybe there should be scooter/motorcycle parking with something to lock to.

  • No, it’s a motor vehicle. It shouldn’t be on the sidewalk at all, much less parked at a bike rack. Scooters should stay out of the bike lanes too.

    • I was just going to ask that. Did I hear that Vespa’s and such are not allowed to ride in bike lanes? If that’s true, then they aren’t considered “bikes” and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to lock up on a bike rack, yes?

      • Depends on the size of the motor. A lot of scooters in this city are 49 cc’s, and therefore are allowed to be parked on sidewalks and in bike lines.

        But regardless of the size of the motor, you can’t park a scooter in the street. It will get stolen. So where is someone supposed to park it if not at a bike rack?

        • Please stop spreading that misconception, petvet. DC has no 50-cc threshold and, by law, Vespas and similar scooters are motorcycles that must be registered, insured, and operated by a licensed person.

        • Seriously, you are so wrong.

        • Maybe this will help you understand:

          1. Is your wheel size smaller than 16″. If YES, STOP. It’s a motorcycle. If NO, go to 2.

          2. Is your displacement greater than 49cc? If YES, STOP. It’s a motorcycle. If NO, go to 3.

          3. Is your brake HP greater than 1.5? If YES, STOP. It’s a motorcycle. If NO, go to 4.

          4. Is your bike capable of travelling 35mph on flat ground? If YES, STOP. It’s a motorcycle. If NO, go to 5.

          5. Does your bike have a manual transmission? If YES, STOP. It’s a motorcycle.

    • Correct- the vehicle pictured and described is technically a motorcycle. They’re supposed to park on the street like any other motorcycle.

      • Vespa does not make a sub 50 cc scooter in the US. Someone would have to alter the engine.

        • The problem is larger than that. Most Vespas have two-stroke motors, which are illegal for street use in most U.S. states, and the District. I think vintage scooters may be exempt.

          Two-strokes have a good power to weight ratio but are noisy and heavily polluting.

          Next time you see some hipster riding a 1960s Vespa, remember that his bike probably emits more pollution than an SUV.

          • “It is estimated that particulate
            emissions from a single 2-stroke motorcycle is comparable
            to those from a diesel truck or bus.”


          • Wow, lots of misinformation here on PoP today.

            1. Vespa doesn’t sell a 2 stroke scooter in the US. (although they have in the past) the majority of vespas I see on the road are non-vintage.

            2. (for Enos) Both of Vespa’s “50cc” scooters sold in the US are actually 49.4cc.

            3. There is no law that I am aware of that prohibits the registration of 2 stroke scooters in DC. In fact my neighbors oil-burning Zuma has DC tags/registration.

  • I regularly see 3 bikes locked up to the U rack. But i think the point is that it’s for bikes, not scooters… Of course people can argue that DC needs more bike racks on corners, as more and more people are choosing biking as their form of commuting. Sure this issue may seem like “small potatoes,” but why not address it? I’ve come across this very thing arriving to work and have been extremely frustrated. All in all, I’d say bike racks are meant for bikes – not bulky space-consuming scooters.

  • Those bike racks are made to hold one bike on each side, unless you are locking more than one bike up together. This scooter is taking up the spot of one bike. How is this the needs of the one over the needs of the many?

    • If you’re locking the back wheel and frame with a U-lock, like most people do, you could fit 4 bikes on that rack, 2 on each side. Not to mention pairs of bikes locked to each other – my BF and I do this a lot when there’s only one spot available.

  • I ride a scooter and I always try to make sure that I have to scooter far enough away from the rack that bikes can use it. I have a long chain so I can do this. Although, it is not always possible.

  • they take up too much room!

  • so is riding a scooter the ultimate free parking loophole in DC?

  • Bikers are so indignant. Cars, pedestrians, scooters, and segways should all cater to the needs of bicyclists!

    I like how bikers want to turn DC into a bike friendly city by being as uncompromising and unfriendly as possible.

    • Check the above links. It’s not the opinion of cyclists as to where scooters can park,it’s the law in DC. If you want to park a scooter to a bike rack,talk to your councilmember about having the law changed.

    • No need to get all negative and go on the attack because one bicyclist asked a trivial question. You sound awful indignant about a bicyclist sounding indignant… 🙂

      • It was more the indignant comments that followed that made me think that perhaps bicyclists have a chip on their collective shoulder.

        • Huh. We must be reading different threads. This one seemed rather tame to me. Personally, I am tired of the bikers v. drivers (v. scooters?!?) meme. Like either group is some monolithic block.

    • You forgot to mention that horse-drawn carriages, foot-powered rickshaws and crawling babies all need to get out of the way of uber-important DC cyclists. I mean why doesn’t everbody understand how this city would just implode if a cyclist was inconvenienced for more than 2 miliseconds. 😉

      Seriously, tho, bicyclists in DC should just STFU and go about their holier-than-thou commuting without complaining.

  • I am very careful about where I park. I park as close to the curb as possible and parallel to it so that I don’t block the sidewalk. I would never park that like in the pic where I am taking up an entire bike rack. In fact, I don’t park anywhere where a bunch of bikes are locked because I don’t want people to have to climb over me and potentially knock me over to get to their bike.

    Scooters are becoming really popular in the city and people need to be curteous about parking!

    A commenter in the other post said that he always calls in a ticket if someone is riding on the sidewalk to park. I understand this. It’s dangerous to ride your scooter on the sidewalk where there are pedestrians. I ride up to the curb cut and then wait for it to be totally clear, then I cut the motor and walk my scooter to where I’m going to park – usually right next to the intersection. I would never ride my scooter halfway down the block on the sidewalk to park – dangerous and rude.

  • Oh, and no scooters in bike lanes. A scooter should act like car when on the road, not like a bicycle.

    The conundrum is – street parking where you aren’t locked TO something means easy stealing. And more work for the police. So I think as long as a person is parked on the sidewalk without blocking it they should be allowed.

    It’s that or a whole bunch of stolen scooter reports that people have to deal with.

  • The solution to all of this is more of those awesome bike racks in the street. Enough rack space for all without any blockage of sidewalk space.

  • Yep the bicycle people definitely got inferiority complex issues sometimes. We need to all get a long for this city to function without all out chaos.

    • Do you really need to go so negative based on one small-potatoes question? All bikers have an inferiority compex? Really? It’s kind of counter to your plea that we all get along.

  • Scooters are motorcycles and should park on the street. They should also stay out of bike lanes. And two-stroke motors should go to the scrap pile.

  • DC Reg. 18-1209 says that motorized bicycles can park at bike racks. I believe that scooters qualify. Motorized bicycles can also use the bike lanes. Both are bad policies, in my opinion.

    • ah

      Scooters are not the same as motorized bicycles in DC.

      • The following is from DC reg. 18-9901. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know whether scooters are “motor-driven cycles” (not ok on bike racks) or motorized bicycles (ok on bike racks).

        Motor – driven Cycle – any motorcycle having a motor or engine which produces five (5.0) brake horsepower (S.A.E. rating) or less. (D.C. Law 1-110)

        Motor Scooter – REPEALED

        Motorized Bicycle – any motor vehicle having either a tandem arrangement of two wheels equipped with tires which are sixteen inches (16 in.) or more in diameter or a tricyclic arrangement of three (3) wheels equipped with tires which are sixteen inches (16 in.) or more in diameter, having a seat or saddle for the use of the operator, having an automatic transmission, and having a motor or engine which produces not more than one and one-half (1.5) brake horsepower (S.A.E. rating), has a piston displacement of not more than fifty cubic centimeters (50 cc), and is capable of moving the vehicle at a maximum speed of not more than thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph) on level ground when propelled exclusively by such motor or engine. (D.C. Law 1-110 & D.C. Law 3-125)

  • Agree on the two stroke motors and staying out of bike lanes.

    I bike all over the place and I agree with the poster who said this was the smallest of small potatoes. If these scooters are getting stolen all the time, then the rider has no choice but the protect their property.

    It just seems we all need to be flexible and account for grey areas in the bike/motor vehicle distinction. Bikes shouldn’t have to stop as stop signs and red lights if the coast is clear and scooter should be allowed at bike racks if that is the only way to keep them from being stolen.

    • Yes, I think the more productive solution than getting all bikes v. scooter is to advocate for sufficient bike parking, as I was suggesting above.

    • And drivers should do everything by the book, or risk being spoken sternly to on blogs and by road rageaholic bicylcists!

      • Your reply makes no sense as a response to the post you are replying to.

        • Anon 2:27 was replying to DCRat’s post from 2:21.

          If he/she had been replying to KT’s post from 2:27, it would have been indented under KT’s post from 2:27.

          • I know that. The response makes no sense as a response to DCRat’s post.

            Seriously, read the two posts. DCRat gave a measured explanation about how this is a small potatoes issue, whoever is right. And said that bicyclist should let it go, especially given how bicyclists bend other rules. Goose, gander, all that. Very reasonable. And then read Anon’s response. Huh?

    • still a fan of bikers following the rules of the road. this includes stop signs and red lights… even if you’re on foot, TECHNICALLY you’re not supposed to walk across the street at a red light. obviously people do and it’s doubtful you’ll get a ticket, but technically that’s jaywalking. I don’t think bikers should be able to break that law if I’m not allowed to on foot.

  • I’m not sure if it’s illegal but I don’t see anything wrong with it. That scooter seems to have roughly the same footprint as a typical full size bicycle.

    However, based on the few minutes of research I conducted, a moped or a motorized scooter such as the one pictured above seems to be classified as a motorcycle in the DC Code, and it is illegal to park a motorcycle on the sidewalk.

  • Just last week near Cleveland Park I witnessed a confrontation between a female w/ a moped and a meter maid (or maybe it was a cop, I only recall it was someone in an authoratative uniform). The moped was being ticketed for being parked on the sidewalk, even though it was parked close to the curb.

  • here are my thoughts–i own a scooter and a bicycle and ride them both all around town.

    it’s all about courtesy–i always avoid parking my scooter at bike racks, because those are for bikes.

    however, i see no problem with locking my scooter to parking meters, trees, and signs so long as they do not impede pedestrians.

    the scooter *has* to be locked some where, otherwise it will be stolen, and there is no way to lock it up on the street.

  • I just walk everywhere. Problem solved.

  • at least we can agree to disagree on the law and the righteousness and wrongteousness moped parking.

  • It’s illegal to park a scooter/motorcycle on the sidewalk in the District, just as it’s illegal to park a car on the sidewalk in the District. So, if you park your scooter/motorcycle at a bike rack on the sidewalk, you are in violation of the law.

    Of course, most of the scooters in DC are probably operated illegally anyway (no motorcycle license, no registration, no helmet, no inspection, and frequently, no insurance.)

  • There’s a reason why Piaggio/Vespa no longer sells 2-stroke bikes in the U.S. They won’t pass emissions requirements.

    Federal emissions laws are wacky. There are different laws for pre-1978 bikes, post-1990 bikes, and post-2005 bikes.

    In 2006 the EPA tightened emissions standards by a factor of 5. After that it became cost-prohibitive to sell a two-stroke in the U.S.

    Strange how scooter manufacturers never specify pollution emissions, like car manufacturers do.

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