motorcycle parking

Why would a sane person spend $25 and two separate courthouse trips totaling more than four hours to fight a $65 parking ticket? Oddly enough, to defend access to public space.
Lincoln parking ticket
I know. Personal motor vehicles are not generally associated with public good. But they are a major public policy and law enforcement reality. When I got a ticket on my motorcycle in August 2019, I had no idea that I’d end up setting a legal precedent about the limits of parking enforcement and the defense of liberated zones on urban streets.

"Cushing v. City of Oakland, Parking Division" case RG-19046692 in the Superior Court of California (yes, amazingly, the third step in contesting a parking ticket in Oakland requires suing the city for the cost of the ticket), County of Alameda, on January 14, 2020 affirmed my contention that under certain circumstances there are small spaces on public streets where a small vehicle – and motorcycles only take up a small parking footprint – can legally park for free.

At issue was the defined zone of parking meters. When charging for street parking, cities have two tools available – meters and “pay-to-park.” The latter requires people to prepay at a kiosk and affects whole block lengths (it also affords no cost reduction for small vehicles such as motorcycles, which is a whole other issue). But parking meters are for a specific piece of the street, and according to Oakland regulation Section 10.36.020, those spaces are supposed to be defined by painted lines – and I’d parked at a reasonable distance beyond the last meter in a row, and no lines defined the spaces.

My case affirmed that there are, in fact, parts of some streets where parking is neither legal nor illegal, and if a vehicle can squeeze in - as only a motorcycle can - it's not a violation.  Parking for free in dense urban areas should not be a right. It's a situation which has been dramatically distorted by current policies for disabled parking, but cities need to encourage transportation modes, such as motorcycles, that reduce congestion. This court ruling is a step in the right direction.

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created 2/15/2020, updated 4/23/2021