Are Scooters Allowed to Park at Bike Racks? Should They Be?


From the bike racks outside The Coupe in Columbia Heights. Should scooters be allowed to lock up to bike racks too?


77 Comment

  • austindc

    Yes, but only if we can lock our bikes to the scooter.

  • Sure, why not?

    Cars and motorcycles pay for parking. The city and some businesses pay for bike racks. They should be used by any vehicle of that type.

    • Farragut

      Mopeds/scooters usually count as motorcycles for regulatory purposes (I’m not sure what DC allows), so scooters on bike racks are probably not that great.

    • Using your analogy, I could lock five tricycles in a street parking space and everyone should be cool with it, since I’m a District taxpayer. Better yet, maybe I should be able to store my unwanted old couch in my residential parking space, as long as I tape a “Visitor Parking” decal on the side of it. There are certain parking spaces reserved for certain types of vehicles. Scooters, if they need to be chained (which is questionable, who carries off unchained scooters?) should be chained to a light pole. It’s not like someone’s going to lift the scooter, chain attached, over the pole, 25 feet in the air.

      • I have a friend who had her scooter stolen on two different occasions when it was left unchained. A few people could easily hoist a scooter into the back of a truck and take off. I do agree they could be chained to a light pole or sign post rather than a bike rack though.

  • Yes. Scooters are prime targets for theft and very easily stolen if not allowed to lock up somewhere. What difference does it make if a bike or a scooter is locked up there? The scooter is not blocking access to any other spots. Other than doing a better job parking closer to the curb to free up as much sidewalk space as possible, I don’t see what the issue is.

  • saf

    No. That’s not a moped, and it shouldn’t even be on the sidewalk.

  • Can someone provide an explanation as to the rationale for why scooters/mopeds should not be allowed to do this? I’m not asking to be snarky, I’m truly puzzled.

    • Because scooters and mopeds are different things. Most scooters in DC are legally considered motorcycles (ever since DC lowered the engine size required for registration) and, like someone said above, shouldn’t even be on the sidewalk.

    • Bike racks are made to accept U locks that don’t always fit on trees or meters… while scooters and mopeds typically have large chain locks. That would be my rationale for being annoyed.

  • Unless the city will provide something else secure to lock to I will continue to lock my scooter to bike racks as needed. I’m not going to have another scooter stolen.

    • I totally agree. my friend had his stolen when it was parked on the street for less than 30 minutes. I refuse to leave mine for even a minute if it isn’t locked up. Many times I lock it to a flower/tree box if a bike rack isn’t available. Scooters are far too easily stolen. I am sure to lock it up so it won’t impede pedestrians or car doors who are parked. without any “proper” place to lock it up, I will continue to park on the sidewalk.

      • would be great if DC removed some car parking spaces in the street, and installed some street parking for other types of vehicles, such as mopeds/scooters, and bikes. would also be great if they removed the parking on 7th in Chinatown and make the sidewalk wide enough to walk on, and add space for a bench or two, or some bike parking. that rack in front of McDonald’s is a joke..

        • saf

          We used to have many more motorcycle spots. It makes me nuts that as those spots were taken out for road repairs, road closures, various types of development, we did not get them back.

          • brookland_rez

            I agree on the motorcycle parking issue. All it would take is for DDOT to convert one or two car spots on every block.
            The key though is they need to provide a steel ring that is embedded in the concrete so people have something secure to chain to.
            If DDOT actually did this, I wouldn’t be so paranoid of where I park my bike. And I wouldn’t even mind paying a little toward a meter on this or how about buying an annual pass for say $100 that allows you to park in any spot? In demand spots could be time limited just like other spots.
            DDOT really needs to rethink their strategy on motorcycle parking in this city and I think my ideas would be a good solution.

          • saf

            Many of those spots were metered – at a fraction of the car price since many more of us could fit in those spots.

            I like it when they allow all-day parking, as most garages charge bikes the same amount as they charge cars, making it impossible to ride to work.

          • brookland_rez

            I work downtown near the White House and there’s several banks of spots. I think those are good, but I’m more about having spots on each and every block. That way when I need to go somewhere, there’s no question in my mind about where I’m going to park. Luckily my work has secure, free parking.
            When I go out, I generally park at the end of a block between the last car spot and the crosswalk. I’ve never gotten a ticket for that even though it’s not technically a legal spot. Outside of downtown and in lower traffic areas, I pull up on the sidewalk.
            I’m all about parking where I can see my bike. I’m not risking my $15,000 bike on some fool that can’t park.

          • brookland_rez

            And a way to lock up too….

          • brookland_rez

            When they redid 18th St in A/M they put those spots back in. Where else did there used to be spot before but not now?

          • saf

            Mostly downtown, some by Foggy Bottom.

            I have gotten a ticket for that. Will do it anyhow.

            You have a nicer bike than I do!

          • saf

            That is, have gotten a ticket for end of the row parking. Not for sidewalk parking, as I will not do that.

            Bike does not belong on the sidewalk. He is a motor vehicle, and stays in the street.

    • We need those things they have all over Europe to lock your moped to on the street and then dedicate 1 car spot every few blocks to motorcycles/mopeds.

  • I have asked police about this to make sure I wouldn’t get a ticket. The officer told me although it is technically illegal, i most likely would never get a ticket for doing so. He told me directly, “a ticket is cheaper than a new scooter.”

    • True, but I’ve gotten that ticket. It’s a $100 fine for “vehicle on sidewalk” — same as if you parked your Hummer there. If you have plates for it never leave them on while it’s on the sidewalk.

      • If plates are not on a vehicle then DC should impound the vehicle as not being registered.

        • Except that MD and VA don’t require tags for scooters.

          • But they do in DC so don’t drive your scooter where it’s illegal.

          • brookland_rez

            anon, you are only bound to tag laws for the state you’re licensed in. If you’re licensed in VA or MD, you don’t have to have a tag to ride into DC.
            It’s just like if you’re from a state that doesn’t require a front license plate, it’s not illegal for you to drive into a state that does require them.
            Now if you have DC license and get caught riding around without a tag, then they can get you.

          • brookland_rez,
            You mentioned that scooters are considered motorcycles in DC based on several factors (link below). If a two wheel vehicle is considered a scooter in VA or MD wouldn’t it be considered a motorcycle as soon as you came into DC? If so then wouldn’t you need a license plate?

            We are not talking about plate laws between states anymore. It’s the definition of scooter vs motorcycle in each state.


          • brookland_rez

            anon, according to my understanding, even though DC classifies it as a motorcycle, the scooter doesn’t need a tag to enter DC. That’s why even people from DC get away with taking their tag off to park on the sidewalk, they’re posing as if they are from VA or MD. BTW if the meter maid really wanted to, they could look up the VIN to see if it is from DC or not, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing that.
            I’ve never heard of anyone from VA or MD who didn’t have a tag or license getting stopped in DC and getting a ticket. The only ones I’ve heard of are DC residents getting stopped for those reasons and getting tickets.

      • We had a scooter a few years ago that we always parked on the sidewalk. For the first year it was fine, but then it started to get ticketed regularly. We had it locked to a no-parking sign and it was stolen (I can’t imagine anyone thinking that it’s actually okay not to lock these things up) and we were almost grateful to have it gone because we were getting so many tickets for it.

  • Scooter owners seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place. Park on the street and your scooter gets stolen–or drivers give you grief for taking up valuable parking space that’s “supposed to be for cars.” Park at a bikerack and you get grief from cyclists and tickets from the city. Having more motorcycle/scooter parking spaces in the city would help a little, but that still wouldn’t change the fact that scooters often get stolen unless they’re secured to something. As long as the scooter isn’t blocking access on the sidewalk, I don’t see it as a problem having it park at the bike rack. On a related note, t would be nice if the bike racks could somehow be expandable (one or two racks when demand is low, but adjustable to five or six racks when demand is greater). That way you wouldn’t have bikeracks taking up lots of sidewalk space when not in use.

  • Scooters up to an engine size of 49 cc are allowed to park on the sidewalk per DC regulations.

    • True, but a quick check of a few local dealers’ websites shows that the vast majority, if not all, of the scooters they’re selling are between 50 and 150 cc. I have no idea about used scooter dealers though.

      • brookland_rez

        If you look into it closer, the so called 50cc scooters are actually 49cc.

        • actually its 49.99ccs it’s not coincidence DC law designates 49ccs and above as a “motorcycle”. Which means if you have a scooter you need a motorcycle licence/insurance/registration etc. (Which is ridiculous and another issue)

          With regards to the OP – Scooters should be allowed to be secure to bike racks and/or parking meters so long as its in a considerate manner – not obstructing the sidewalk or access to parking meter. As mentioned above an unchained/unlocked scooter is probably the easiest thing to steal.

          • brookland_rez

            DC classifies a scooter as a motorcycle if it has wheels under 16″ diameter, so as far as DC is concerned, the engine size really doesn’t matter.
            Other states do use the 50cc criteria as a basis for registration, which is why the scooter manufacturers make them 49cc.

    • A common misconception, for all of you, is about what makes a scooter vs. a motorcycle in dc. DC law has both an engine size component OR a speed component. A two wheeled vehicle is (most importantly) two wheeled vehicle with less than 50cc engine OR capable of driving more than 35 miles per hour.

      nearly every “scooter” in dc is a motorcycle, because they’re all rated to go more than 35 mph.

      so, no, no parking on the sidewalk.

  • in order for a scooter rider to get his or her scooter on to a sidewalk, he or she will likely have to ride the scooter on a sidewalk. that presents a safety issue. other than that, i see no issue. DC should actually install more bike racks around the city. with more and more people biking, a spot on a bike rack is a hot commodity

    • I turn my engine off and walk my scooter to the closest available parking meter and chain it up to it. Sometimes its a bike rack. Once a douche chained his bike on top of my scooter. I simply unlocked my scooter and went about my day. If that made him feel better about his life, good for him.

  • brookland_rez

    Official laws in DC classify scooters as motorcycles and they’re not supposed to be on the sidewalk period. Reality is that scooters are easily stolen and the city doesn’t provide on-street parking for scooters with a lock up point. So while it’s technically not legal, I don’t blame the scooter owner for locking it up. So as to not interfere with bicycles locking up, maybe the scooter owner could just lock up to a light pole or something else?

    • But please don’t lock to trees!

    • EXACTLY. I’d actually prefer to not have to pull onto the sidewalk and park at a bike rack. But I have to, otherwise my scooter will be stolen since there’s nothing to lock it to if I park in the street.

      Scooters are much lighter than motorcycles and can easily be placed into the back of trucks. That’s typically what happens when they are stolen.

      Until DC puts lockable anchors or racks in street parking spaces, I’ll be forced to keep parking on the sidewalk. And hopefully not getting tickets (I’ve only received one ticket for $25 and that was day I forgot to take my Velcro’d license plate off my scooter). The city really needs to either change the law or provide more infrastructure for scooter riders. There’s more on the road every year.

  • I have no problem with scooters locked to bike racks, so long as it’s only taking one spot, as in the photo above. I do have a problem with scooters being driven on the sidewalk to get to the rack.

    • You don’t have to ride a scooter on the sidewalk. I turn my scooter off and walk it as if it were a bike. This is why scooters are so easily stolen if you don’t lock them. One hard turn on the handle bars will break the internal front wheel lock and boom, you’re off! It’s essentially as easy to steal as if you left a bicycle unlocked. The law should be engines off on the sidewalk, scooters and bikes share racks. The city just needs to add some racks

      • I agree and understand that it can be walked. My problem is that many people choose to ride them on the sidewalk. If they walk them to the rack, I have no problem with it.

  • Dumb selfish questions – Yes they should be allowed to park and lock-up there.

    In the pic provided there certainly seems to be no friction among those locked up… everyone seems to have room and be getting along…

    • Exactly…

      if there is nothing provided to lock it up any where else they should deff lock it to a bike rack/ pole/ flower box etc.

      thats like saying bikes can ONLY be locked to BIKE racks and nothing else because thats where they are supposed to be

      hell, i pull my motorcycle on a curb to park it sometimes depending on where it is
      people are inconciderate, they will tip a motorcycle over and drive away like it never happen so in high traffic areas whetre i dont feel like i can get a safe place for my motorcycle i wuill walk it up on a curb
      or if im at a friends house i almost always take the sidewald to pull it into their front yard/ walkway

      • brookland_rez

        I do that too with my bike. It’s not legal, but I don’t want my bike getting hit by some car, so I risk the ticket. Downtown, they generally give tickets (I’ve gotten a few). Elsewhere in the city I’ve not had a problem.

        • Yea man…

          i do get funny looks when im walking or slowly riding (Idle speed) an R1 down a sidewalk but who cares lol
          they wont be the ones paying for anything after tiys been tipped over

  • Scooters are NOT considered a motercycle. To qualify as a motor cycle the motor needs to be more than 50cc. These “scooters” are produce only 49cc just for that reason. No licensing of driver or scooter necessary. The botton line is DC needs to plan for the multiple modes of transportation that are now becoming popular in the city. Until scooter parking is provided owners should be allowd to lock scooters to a bike rack. Driving a scooter down the sidewalk to get to the rack vs entering at the curb is a completely different issue.

    • brookland_rez

      Why do we keep going back over this? In DC, scooters are considered motorcycles. Check the DMV website: “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]” Any scooter meets requirement number 4, so therefore every scooter is classified as a motorcycle by DC standards.

      • I can verify this by the tickets I received a couple of months ago for not having tags on my 49cc scooter. I was given $575 worth of tickets for not having it registered or insured. Went to traffic court, admitted with explanation and the fine was cut in half because I had a sensible judge, however, the law still considers my scooter to be a motorcycle. Insurance for my scooter was only $100/year through Nationwide and registering the scooter is only $75.

        • brookland_rez

          Exactly. It’s really not that hard. If you try to flout the law in DC on this, they will eventually get you. It’s not like scooters are fast enough to run either. When they get you, they get you.

          • brookland_rez

            Also, you’re supposed to have the “M” endorsement on your license. The written test is 20 questions, and is pretty easy. For the riding test, when I took mine all they did was have me ride around the parking lot at the DMV in Brentwood. I actually took all the tests when I had my scooter, before I ever got a motorcycle.

  • Are bikes only allowed to be parked in bike racks now? Can’t bikers just chain their bike to a signpost or something else if the bike racks are full? If they can’t, then I understand the frustration, because there are definitely not enough bike racks to accommodate all of the bikers in the city. If they can, then I’m not sure what the fuss is about. Moped/scooter commuters have to park somewhere, and there is certainly not enough car parking to go around, either.

    • You certainly can lock your bike to a sign post, but it’s a risk. If the sign is at all lose, a thief can knock it out all the way and steal your bike. I didn’t think it possible until a couple people I know got their bikes stolen that way. Now, I always give the pole a firm shake before I do that. I’ve noticed there are signs on some of the city installed flower box things (like the ones in front of the Giant) saying “no bikes” too.

    • Agreed, the signpost is risky. As for other types of posts or fencing, you could potentially run into some trouble if the implement is privately-owned. I’m not sure if they’ve ever actually gone through with removing a bike, but my building is constantly advising passer-by not to lock their bikes to the wrought-iron fencing outside, and threatening to confiscate any bikes that are locked there.

  • I don’t have a problem with scooters parking on bike racks, as long as they play nice. you can usually lock 2 bikes on each of those staple racks, so it *would* have been nice if the scooter owner had locked their scooter in such a way that allowed a bike to share the staple as well. In this picture, it looks like they are locked through the middle of the staple, which makes it very difficult to share that rack with another bike. If they had locked it the side, it would have freed up room to put another bike along side. So while i don’t have a problem with scooters using a bike rack, i do have a problem with them parking in a way that takes up two spots like in this picture. it’s akin to a driver straddling the line on a parking spot, thus taking two spots, when more courteous parking would have kept a spot free for another person.

    • I agree. The only problem I have with scooters on bike racks is that most of the time they are parked in a way that takes up two spaces.

  • The title for this blog posting and the question being asked therein don’t match. With regard to the title — “ARE scooters allowed to park at bike racks?” — the answer seems to be that according to D.C. regs, they aren’t.
    Whether we think they SHOULD be allowed to park at bike racks — the question being asked within the text of the posting — is another matter.

  • Yes Scooter’s should be allowed. A friend of mine just had their small motorcycle stolen off the street the other day. Until this city’s police can find a way to control bicycle, moped and motorcycle theft, everyone should be allowed to lock up. Share with your brethren.

  • I’ve never owned or ridden a scooter before– why are they so easy to steal?

    • because you can pick them up

    • They are lightweight and can easily be wheeled/lifted into the back of a pick-up truck or box van. That’s how they are typically stolen. It’s also very easy to knock them over, so vandals will just mess with it and cause damage simply for the sake of it (that’s happened twice to my scooter).

      You need to be locked up to something – same as a bicycle – otherwise you’re inviting trouble.

      • Yes, I don’t know why I was picturing someone hot wiring it or something. I guess this is why my criminal career has yet to take off. Perhaps I should look into cooking meth instead.

  • When you ride your scooter you should have an M endorsement and license plate. When you park on the sidewalk you pull your license plate off (velcro). If there’s no license plate they will leave it alone. It’s a lot of work to get it taken away and, if they can find the VIN, I’ll gladly pay the ticket.

    90% of the time there is a parking meter of flower box that you can lock to and it is unnecessary to use a bike rack. If other options are available, they should be used.

  • I’m pretty turned off by inflated senses of entitlement, and that tends to be a pronounced quality in a lot of cyclists. I say this as a District resident who uses a bike as my only means of transportation. Instead of arguing about the “legal” distinctions between a this vehicle and a bicycle, act like a social being and think about what is fair. This scooter is taking up just as much space as a bike and is also subject to theft. Why not let it park? The note writer in this picture is a particularly uncourteous whiner because only four of seven other bike spaces are being used. But even if he or she were inconvenienced, TOUGH! First come, first served. Go find a street sign to lock your bike onto.

  • gotryit

    Solution to all this: get a four-wheeler and then the police won’t give you an problems. Park it wherever you want.

  • Wow, I am really surprised by this post and the follow up comments. I am a regular biker and scooter owner in DC for 4 years. I actually ride my bike around DC more than my scooter and I always lock both to bike racks. And never once have I had had a problem of not being able to find a spot to lock up because a scooter was blocking the space. Just look around there are always other spots to lock up.

    That being said, mopeds/scooters (they both refer to the same things), with engines less than 50cc can legally park on sidewalks and on bike racks in DC. Anything able 50cc is considered a motorcycle and must park on the street. This is standard regulations in most states.

    I feel like many of these comments are posted by people who are not even effected by this situation and do not even bike or ride scooters. Stop looking for things to complain about people, we live in a wonderfully bike friendly city, be happy!

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