Stop the Knockovers!

Most of us have been here before. You’re walking back to your bike after work.  About half a block away, you can already tell something doesn’t look right.  When you arrive, it’s on its side leaking fuel, or worse.  Your brake lever is snapped off, and your plastics are scratched.  There’s no note. There is never a note.

It’s enough to make you want to kick someone.  Or, enough to make you want to park on the sidewalk next time!

There is no sure-fire way to prevent an inattentive driver from backing into your baby.  However, there are a few things you can do to minimize the possibility!

  1. Leave more room between you and adjacent cars.  It’s amazing how many riders don’t do this!  Look at the cars you are parking next to, look how much room they have in front and behind to pull out of the space, and ask yourself if that’s enough.  If not, then you are taking a risk!  A good rule of thumb is that the combined space in front and behind each car should be no less than three feet – preferably more!
  2. Park with other scooters / motorcycles.  A few bikes next to each other are more noticeable.  Coordinate with other riders on the block!  (Added bonus: Get to know your fellow riders in the process!)
  3. As a corollary to the above, don’t leave room for a car.  In other words, if you happen upon a spot which is enough for one smallish car, don’t try to be the “nice guy” and park all the way at the front or rear of the space.  Park right in the middle.  This may sound mean, but if you leave room, a car is going to try to squeeze into that spot, and may knock you over.  Don’t give them any hope that they can fit in there.  Plus, if you do that, you will be creating 3-5 spaces for other bikes in the process!
  4. Don’t park exactly perpendicular to the curb.  Park at a slight (65-75 degrees) angle to the curb to make yourself “wide” and prevent your front wheel from being clipped by passing traffic.
  5. Cover your bike & use a lock. People are less likely to move a covered vehicle.  Also, it may protect you a bit from minor scratches and theft.
  6. Get to know your neighbors.  Say “Hi!” to the doorman, the restaurant staff, the shop owner, and the guy you see every day walking his dog.  If they know you and recognize that you’re a member of their community, they will watch out for you.

If you DO get knocked over, call 911. (Don’t worry that this doesn’t feel like an “emergency.” 911 operators will prioritize your call, appropriately.)  This is especially important if you intend to file an insurance claim, in which case you will need a police report.  It may take a while for the police to come out, but if you leave the scene then you lose your opportunity to have an official report.  Finally, help the NYMSTF lobby for more motorcycle parking!  Join the forum, and tell us where you would like to see dedicated (motorcycle & scooter only) parking.  Then, go to your community board meeting, and ask for it!  We’ll help you do so.

View the results of our April 2010 Parking Damage Survey here.