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StarBulletin.com

Give incentives for bikes, mo-peds


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POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2009

Rising gasoline prices, congested traffic and environmental concerns are driving many commuters to the sensible alternative of bikes, in their various motorized forms, only to be hit with new parking fees. Governments need to step in with incentives to encourage people to leave their cars at home and commute by two- or three-wheel vehicles.

Looking for ways to increase revenue during the recession, private parking garages that had allowed free parking for motorcycles in Honolulu have recently initiated charges, most recently $75 a month at Waterfront Plaza, beginning Sept. 1. In downtown commercial lots, motorcyclists pay monthly rates of $40 at Pioneer Plaza, $62.83 at First Hawaiian Center and $83.77 at Davies Pacific Center.

Free parking is available for motorcycles or mo-peds at various public parking lots in the downtown vicinity, but a surge in motorcycles has resulted in those spots being filled up early in the morning. City motorcycle registrations increased by more than 1,000 last year, reaching 18,964 at year's end.

Boston, which has the same problem, is considering the option of retrofitting parking stalls in a downtown lot and other areas to fit up to four scooters or motorcycles in a single space. Such a strategy would fill the needs of two-wheel commuters while nudging car commuters to look for an alternative, including TheBus.

Several cities, including San Francisco and Portland, Ore., have opened special parking areas for motorcycles, mo-peds or scooters for free or low rates. In Boston, the transportation commissioner is allowing scooters to park on sidewalks without getting a ticket unless they create an obstruction.

In Austin, Texas, the city council recently approved an ordinance allowing two-wheeled vehicles to park free at all meters and pay stations for up to 12 hours a day. The purpose of the new rule is to encourage commuters to reduce carbon emissions in the urban core, according to Austin Business Journal.

The problem is worst in New York, proclaimed by Wes Siler, editor of Hellforleathermagazine.com, as “;the least bike-friendly city I know.”; The Big Apple “;provides no separate — much less free — parking for scooters and motorcycles,”; Siler asserted in an essay for Newsweek.

“;Unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles and scooters don't create congestion,”; Siler added. “;By traveling through stationary traffic, they're actually able to safely and efficiently reduce congestion, no matter what the NYPD says.”; (The New York police regard two-wheelers moving between lanes as “;reckless driving.”;)