Two-wheel enthusiasts plan to dominate downtown parking

Group wants more spaces at better prices for motorcycles and scooters

Ian Tootill hopes hundreds of motorcycles and scooters will occupy vehicle and car parking spots downtown Saturday morning.

The ad hoc Vancouver Scooter/Motorcycle Parking Initiative group will meet at 7: 45 a.m. at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre's east parking lot, hoping to pressure city council into giving two-wheelers more spaces at better prices.

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"The people doing this are looking for sympathy from the rest of the public. We're doing this in the least disruptive way that we know how while still making our point," said Tootill, who rides an Aprilia 250. "We're being as polite as we can to everybody concerned. We don't want to disrupt people like Critical Mass does."

Almost exactly two years ago, on May 8, 2010, city council voted for free parking for zero-emission vehicles and full-price metering for fuelled two-wheelers, with a 50 per cent pay-by-phone discount. By April 2012, there were 200 spaces, each designated to hold four to eight motorcycles and scooters, which Tootill said is insufficient for the estimated 30,000 riders in Greater Vancouver. Powered, twowheeled commuters are still faced with having to "poach" space and park between vehicles.

This puts motorcycles and scooters at risk of parking tickets and damage. Parking is available at the beginning of city blocks on the far sides of intersections. Tootill said it should be expanded to include the end of city blocks, on the near sides of intersections. Toronto has free sidewalk parking, while San Francisco charges 40 cents an hour.

"We're suggesting that in all the high-demand locations that the parking meter can be dedicated as free," he said. "If you need to charge for it then you charge for it on a pro rata basis that's competitive with other jurisdictions that do the same thing."

Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs said he is "not aware there is a crisis."

"We significantly increased the supply of parking specifically allocated to motorcycles and scooters and I don't think there's any intention to turn our back on that program," Meggs said. "There has been a fee for other street users. At this point there is a fee for motorcycles and scooters as well. There's a finite supply. Anything that's produced for motorcyclists and scooters would be taken away from drivers."

Tootill said motorized cycles are more fuel efficient, less polluting, reduce traffic congestion and require less space to park. Because they are also lighter and smaller, they provide less wear and tear to roadways and bridges and free up space for others, he said. "It's a good alternative to congested streets. Vancouver's one of the few places in Canada that's ideally suited to riding scooters and motorcycles. It's not always dry, but certainly tolerable for people who want to ride two-wheelers."

Tootill said the Vision Vancouver majority council wants fewer internal combustion engines downtown, at a time when motorcycles and scooters should be encouraged.

Tootill believes that when zero emission bikes are widely available, that the existing motorcycle and scooter riders will be first to switch. "The first thing you've got to do is convert (commuters) from four wheels to two wheels," he said.

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