A Walk in the Park

This article was originally posted to the Ixion mailing list by the author (Hoddy Hodson) on Mon, 1 Apr 1996 16:38:27 +0100. All correspondence regarding this article should be with the author.

Never To Late to Learn
A Walk in the Park
Parking Regulations

As those who have attended LAM events of late will know, there is one aspect of proper use of a motorcycle which LAM do not teach. This is that basic task: parking the beast!

Many of us firmly believe that, as with the face of a Heidleberg student, it is unmanly for a motorcycle to lack a few scars. However, many riders seem to wish to keep their fairings unscratched, their mirrors unbent and their footpegs straight. A grasp of the basics of parking your motorcycle will aid you considerably in this aim.

No rule is absolute, but most of the following rules apply most of the time. For convenience, it is assumed that small people ride smaller 'bikes and big people rider bigger 'bikes: so, whatever your size, your 'bike will be pretty big in comparison to your body weight. (Fat gits on mopeds are ignored).

  1. Park with your rear wheel to the kerb. Most roads camber; that is, they slope down to the gutter. Also, you have only got forward gears, so the engine can only help you pull away if you are facing in towards the centre of the road.


  2. Your tyres never sink into even the softest of ground, but metal stands can do so. Park on the sidestand if you have the slightest worry about the surface (mud, soft tarmac, etc). You can put a stick or 1/2 brick under the sidestand in such a case. It's much harder to chock up both legs of a centrestand. Also, on the sidestand you are "three point stable" like a tripod, the centrestand only gives you "two point stability". (Always use the sidestand and have a bit of wood under it when on camping trips. And position the 'bike so, if the stand still sinks in, your tent, with you in it, will not be beneath the wreckage !)


  3. Park at between 90 and 45 degrees to the flow of traffic (depending how wide the road is). Parking parallel to the flow of traffic makes the 'bike far less visible to other road users, without reducing the actual width all that much. If you can't park safely at 45 degrees, you probably shouldn't park there at all.


  4. Don't park with the engine running or with the 'bike in gear. The first is illegal. The second is likely to let it fall over. If it's so steep that you need to leave it in gear, once again, it is probably not the right place to leave it. If you have to park on a hill; park at 45 degrees to the road, with the rear tyre downhill of the front and against the kerb. And (unless you like the smell of ABS cement) use the sidestand.


  5. Think before you park ! Look at the ground (for the aforementioned mud or soft tarmac) and if you see a nail, don't park on it ! If you see a "No Parking" sign or marking, consider parking elsewhere. If you see 'Brixton confetti' (broken car window) consider parking elsewhere. If you see half a U-Lock and the innards of a Yamaha ignition switch, do park elsewhere !

    If you have a choice of parking spaces (e.g.: the length of a 'bike bay), you should park: where the road is widest; furthest from any corner or junction; not under a tree; under a streetlamp; next to a wider vehicle but not behind a vehicle that may have difficulty reversing and where the 'bike is easily seen (preferably by yourself or members of your household).

    Try to leave a considerate space for other road users ('cos they'll only try to move the 'bike if you don't). Never park in the middle of a gap that is 'one and a half" cars long: it's rude and selfish. However, you should park in the middle of a gap that is only one car long, to indicate to car drivers that they shouldn't try to squeeze in.


  6. If you want to park 'rear to kerb', and the kerb is not too high, and there is a ramp up onto the kerb nearby, and the space is not by a police station... why not drive over the pavement and forwards into the space ?

    It saves all that heaving and scrabbling to move the 'bike backwards. You spend less time (almost) stationary in a flow of traffic. And, if the gap is narrow, it's easier to judge your positioning going forwards than backwards.


  7. If you possibly can, when you do have to move the 'bike under your own steam, sit astride it. If you are walking alongside a 'bike and have to turn or brake it sharply, it can easily fall away from you. As the 'bulk of the 'bike itself prevents you placing your feet to brace yourself, this quickly leads to the embarrasing position of you lying on top of the 'bike while a passing mongrel throws a bucket of water over you.


  8. When you have to move a 'bike under muscle power, don't let the exertion make you forget your Roadcraft. In large fleets, up to 80% of accidents happen while parking. People relax and forget to concentrate at the end of a trip. Don't forget to check for other moving vehicles before pushing your 'bike across the road !