By September 30, 2009

Random Motorcycling Tip #02: Parking in a parking lot

Motorcyclists spend a lot of time worrying about things while they are in motion. How’s my speed? What’s in front of me? Any critters to the side? Is that car coming up behind me going to slow down? There are lots of things to track, but vigilance doesn’t stop once you’ve parked at your destination. Parking presents a few challenges of their own. Here are some tips about “surviving” a parking experience.

One advantage of a motorcycle as a commuter vehicle is that they do not take up a full parking spot. As a courtesy, motorcyclists often park to one side of the spot or another, thus leaving room for an additional bike. However, this may cause problems.

Let’s say I park on the left-hand side of a spot at Target. I have no idea that another motorcycle may visit Target during my trip, and even less of an idea if they will choose to park in the same spot I do. By parking on the left-hand side I run the risk of car occupants hitting my bike with their car door, or even risking a tip-over if they bump the bike from the left-hand side. I once parked on the right-hand side of a spot, only to come back and find a four door truck had parked over the line and about a foot away from my bike. If I am traveling alone I always park smack in the middle of a space.

I also try to park as closely to the “back” of the parking space as possible. I learned this when I owned a MINI Cooper. If you pull all the way forward into a space, other motorists might think your spot is empty. At best, you irritate someone. They could bump your bike and knock it over, or monster truck it completely. I haven’t decided if it makes a difference if you park nose-first or tail-first as far as visibility is concerned. It probably depends on the size of the bike. My FJR’s ass is pretty big. I take advantage of the height of my motorcycle, the large side cases, and the super large Givi E55 top case to further signal my presence in a spot.

I try to be careful where I park in relation to the lot as a whole. I don’t like parking near at the front of wherever I am going; traffic tends to be more heavy there. Also, people that really fight for close-in spots tend to be elderly or have children, and they have enough going on without adding a motorcycle into the mix. A friend of mine came out to see a guy holding a toddler over his motorcycle. WTF. People might want to touch your bike (or sit on it) on the way into a store, but if you park far enough away they are not going to walk out and then back towards their destination.

Posted in: motorcycling

2 Comments on "Random Motorcycling Tip #02: Parking in a parking lot"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Gremlin says:

    I don’t mind people looking at the bike, or even kids sitting on it, with permission. But motorcycle exhaust is hot, shiny, and accessible. My cousin got second degree burns that covered his palm when he touched a bike. I was only ten, but I’ll never forget that lesson.

  2. Cap'n says:

    I do the same with parking towards the rear of the spot, and for the same reason. Cars are quickly scanning to find open spots, and the sooner they see that your spot is occupied, the less chance that they will decide to floor it into your spot (knocking you over, or worse). I consider it a courtesy.