4-wheeled respect

I got kicked out of a downtown parkade on Thursday evening.

Zombie rehearsal didn’t start until 6:30, so Shan and I made plans to meet at Pacific Center after work. We had a craving for Vietnamese food, and I wanted to check out the new Sephora store, so we made plans to relocate our scooters to the mall parking lot and meet up for deliciousness.

Shan managed to get past the ticket machine, but I had no such luck. Lola couldn’t trigger the sensor, and as I wiggled back and forth trying to get the machine to spit out a ticket, someone came over the intercom:

“You can’t park here.”
“Excuse me?”
“No motorcycle parking; you’re not allowed in here. You have to leave.”
“Where exactly am I supposed to go, then? There’s no street parking at this time of day.”
“I don’t know, but you can’t park here. I’ll open the gate but you have to leave the parkade.”

I tried to argue some more, but I was ignored. The gate rose, but instead of going to the exit, I went to find Shan’s scooter. She wasn’t there, so I called her and explain the situation: although we were willing to pay for parking and took up less room than a single car, we were not allowed to be in the lot because we did not have four wheels.

Shan came back down, and we prepared to leave. On our way out, we saw a security guard striding purposefully and looking for something – me, we assumed. It had been some time since I was told to leave, and I hadn’t been by either ticket booth yet and heaven forbid I sully their parkade with my inferior two wheels. We pulled up to the booth to be ignored by the three people standing around chatting, until I called out and asked for them to lift the gate. One of them gestured for us to drive around it, and turned back to the conversation. Awesome.

We drove around the block while I swore, looking for someone else to park. Since it was barely 5:30pm and still rush hour, we were out of luck – there was no street parking to be found anywhere, and no other lots nearby.

We were fully intent on spending money in Pacific Center that evening on both dinner and some shopping, but because they would not allow us to park in the only option we had, we decided to go elsewhere – I don’t have time and shouldn’t have to convince businesses to take my money.

It really kills me that Vancouver is so proud of itself for being a “green” city. We pat ourselves on the back and make fancy websites so we’ll look good to other cities, but it’s a total joke. Okay, they opened a bike lane on the Burrard Bridge and they expanded the Sky Train lines. How progressive; giving people a choice. We’re apparently the number 2 city in the WORLD for the very model of green and clean living, which is just ridiculous.

One of the reasons I ride a scooter is to try to minimize my carbon footprint. I produce a great deal less CO2 per year because of my scooter, and it really bothers me that I am actively persecuted instead of lauded for my choices. Motorcycle parking in downtown Vancouver is a joke: two narrow allotments with 2-hour limits. Very few lots offer discounted rates for two-wheeled vehicles. We’re not allowed (and shouldn’t) park at bicycle racks. We can’t park on sidewalks. There is nowhere for us to go.

Other cities are doing their part to encourage people to consider alternate forms of transportation. In Toronto, scooters are allowed to park on sidewalks. In San Francisco, entire blocks of the downtown core are reserved for motorcycles and scooters at $0.25 an hour, for a maximum of ten hours. In Vancouver, we get hit and manhandled and ticked and towed. People take it upon themselves to move our scooters out of their way when we have every right to be there. Parking authorities tell us to give up and get cars, because we’ll never be allowed to park in peace. Distracted drivers run into us, then yell as though we’re the ones in the wrong.

I’m willing to pay for the same rights as a car owner, but I take up less than ¼ of the space. I suppose safe parking is a privilege and not a right, but first I have to find a lot that’ll let me in.

It seems the only way to get any respect in this city is to line the transit coffers or buy myself an SUV.

11 thoughts on “4-wheeled respect

  1. Admittedly, I haven’t tried to park a bike downtown in a couple of years, but are the triangles at the end of parallel parking no longer safe haven for two-wheelers? I parked in one for years with no trouble at all (didn’t have any parking in my building, so the triangle out the side door was my spot.)

    I spoke to a bylaw enforcer about it once, he said that since they aren’t really impeding the view (which is why those triangles are there) he wouldn’t ticket a bike there because, as you say, it’s better than a little tiny bike taking up a whole spot. Legally, a bike can share a metered spot with a car as long as the meter is paid up, but I’m a little untrustworthy with strangers cars being that close to my bike… and since half of them are SUV’s anyway, there’s no freaking room even for little ole me.

    Finally: That parking lot attendent was a dick. For a while, I was going to VGH once a week, and their parking lot also had trouble with not recognizing when a motorcycle was there. I ended up getting to know the attendent at that lot and it was understood that I would zip around the barricade on my way in (not getting a ticket) then pay my $5 on my way out. I’m sure he pocketed it without a ticket to match it up to, but I don’t care, I just wanted a place to park. :)

    • It varies from person to person: half the parking enforcers will tell you it’s okay to park there, and the other half will say no. If you’re lucky you’ll get an enforcer who’ll allow bikes to park in the triangles, but more often than not you’ll be ticketed and at worst, towed. Everyone has a different opinion, and unfortunately I don’t trust the triangles. You can try to park in one, but you’re also very likely to be hit or knocked over by someone backing up in a giant van or SUV, who’ll just drive off because they didn’t notice they hit something or “well, they shouldn’t have been parked there anyway so it serves them right”.

  2. Just tell them that you have the best ass below 14th street. That should do it.


    (I’m sorry, but you put the song in my head and now I can’t get it out again.)

  3. Scooters seem to be invisible to a lot of people. On the road and while parked. The only people who seem to see them are other riders and parking enforcement. I believe it depends on the meter-maid’s mood whether you get a ticket for parking in the triangle. This is bullsh*t, we should be allowed to park there. Best bet for street parking is at the very front of the row of parked cars just behind the triangle or parking signage. Never ever ever park between cars or at the back of the row, you are asking to get knocked over. The situation sucks but if it means choosing to park a few blocks away and walking a bit vs. making an ICBC claim, I’m going for a walk. Better for the environment too.

  4. Loved it!
    Thanks for the brillant text. Sorry to hear that Pacific Centre people are not smart enough to create a good customer environment for you!
    Hope things get better when I start to ride my scooter…

  5. “EasyPark, a parking company affiliated with the city, provides discounted rates for scooters and motorcycles at three lots, including locations on West Pender Street, Richards Street and West Georgia Street.”

    Perhaps you need to encourage EasyPark (and the City) to provide this discount at more locations, and to clarify the no scooter policy at Pacific Centre. The listed lots are $0.50/hr (max $4) for a scooter. The West Georgia lot is close to Pacific Centre, might be an alternative.

    • The four lots with the $0.50 rates are nowhere near our offices, and the lots that offer discount parking start at $125/m – I *was* paying $84/m before I got free parking, which seems to be the cheapest (and yet still incredibly expensive) option. :(

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