Spot or Not: Motorcycles on the Sidewalk

As if to kick me when I’m down, our neighbor has recently (the past few months) decided that the best spot to park his Harley Davidson that rattles the windows and sets off car alarms, drips oil and gas, and generally annoys the hell out of us, is on the sidewalk.

So I ask again, Spot or Not?

In this photo the motorcycle is actually closer to the curb than it usually is. Most often, it’s smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk. When you have young children ripping down the sidewalk on skateboards, a Harley kind of gets in the way. Doncha think? Or should they just learn to ollie over it?

What to do? It’s a dilemma.

39 thoughts on “Spot or Not: Motorcycles on the Sidewalk

  1. As long as there is plenty of room for people to walk by, what’s the problem? The last thing this eco-conscious city needs is to discourage alternatives to cars.

  2. sanfrantim. The problem is a shiny hypnotizing attracting PIPING HOT exhaust at hand and face level of children.
    (sams goes for ferrari exhaust, but then, the risk is limited to kids on the road, or kids in your own garage)

    I agree with you, but then, there should be a way to protect the pedestrians. Could be a cover/wrap something heatproof. Or it could simply be parking so the hot stuff is turned toward a post/tree or something.
    There is a large bike parked in a half parking spot in our street (like the spot from the previous post) – which seems ok with everybody in the street, and there is a smaller vespa attached to a street cleaning post, in a way that it doesnt block the curbside. I dont have a problem with either one. But the one above, I know I would have one, because encouraging no cars STARTS with making streets walkable for a family with small children trying to avoid using the soccer mom van for trips less than a mile long.

  3. When I lived in the lower Haight 12 plus years ago, a motorcycle parked like that would have been ticketed.

    I’m guessing your neighborhood is not over-run with motorcycles like the lower Haight.

    I’d say not a spot. I’m also guessing there may be “half spots” on the street where the cycle could be parked? And like Sophie above, it this was parked up against the wall covered up or in a way not blocking the pedestrian flow I’d personally be fine with it.

  4. get real people! it’s a motor vehicle. it has no place on the sidewalk. EVER. I’ve had them in front of my house and they are ticketed immediately.

    since when do we HAVE to share a sidewalk with a motorcycle?

  5. The word on several moto forums is that the first 3 ’tiles’ are NOT spaces, but further in, presumably tucked up against your own building, is ok.

    And loud Harleys? Find a truck to fall under, willya?

  6. Not a spot. And riders with obnoxious pipes on motorcycles should go to self esteem training.

  7. Wow, life must be good if this is the biggest thing you have to worry about. Of course, if it bothered me, and it was illegal, I’d probably check with the city. City needs money so I’m sure they’ll rush over to ticket it.

    A couple other thoughts – if it’s most often smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk, you should have waited a day for this post and put a more incriminating photo up. Or follow up with one tomorrow.

    Also, young kids ripping down the sidewalk on skateboards? If these kids can’t avoid a parked motorcycle… how do they avoid pedestrians, strollers, etc.?

    [Editor’s note: Amen. Well stated, and good point about the photo. I’ll see what I can do.]

    All in all, there are worse things. We all do some things that annoy our neighbors.

  8. 3.5 years ago I would have said no big deal but two kids later and I have to say I am a little more egregious when it comes to the sidewalk. I have a double stroller and often I find myself having to route around via the street because people park on the sidewalk. Not a good compromise so I agree – nothing should be on on the sidewalk.

    (side topic: do agree that those loud Harleys etc. are another issue – there must be a law on how loud a bike can be. Do you really need to make my windows rattle when you start your motorcycle)

  9. I disagree completely. A civilized society is at the core of living together. Rules and laws are not just made to satisfy small minds and bureaucrats. they are to create a good life. and yes, parking a motorcycle on the sidewalk is, I agree, not the most important infraction in life.

    But what it says is that the cycle owner cares MORE about his convenience than the larger good of the community. that’s called being selfish. When we allow that, I think we begin to take other things just as casually; things like dog shit on the sidewalk, second hand smoke in an outdoor cafe, rude cell phone users on get my drift.

    I would rather see the bike owner just know that he should look for a parking place on the street and not disrespect his neighbors by parking on the sidewalk, for his happiness.

  10. i’ve had a bike in the city for 20 years and i know how easy it is to find a parking spot on the street (that does not use up a ‘car spot’).

    so the harley guy should take notice of the little note you attach to his bike that politely asks him to park on the street. sidewalk tickets are
    a hundred bucks now so the message is easy to get.

  11. Not a spot. The cycle owner would get a ticket if you called. Anything with a motor cannot park on the sidewalk. Also note that if someone actually parks in that parking space, it looks like it would be difficult for the passenger to open the door. Or if you had a kid in a carseat in the back on the passenger side, how would you unload him/her if this motorcycle were blocking your access.

  12. Janet,

    It’s funny you should mention the difficulty to open/close a door. When the Harley is in the middle of the sidewalk it is so they can get in and out of their GMC you see in the picture. Move the SUV, move the Harley. That’s how it goes.

  13. Oil on the sidewalk = not cool. Extra loud pipes in an urban environment = extremely not cool. Blocking the sidewalk any day or time = not cool. Call 311 and send DPT out for the ticket.

  14. Totally illegal (and it doesn’t matter how wide the sidewalk is). Call the DPT hotline at 553-1200 the next time it’s parked on the sidewalk and they will ticket. If it’s ever blocking a driveway, even slightly, you can also have it towed. It does not matter if you are the owner of the blocked driveway or if you do not reside at the location where the sidewalk parking has occured. They will respond. It’s the one city “service” that works pretty darn good, lol.

  15. wtf, the bike is probably the easiest thing to park in the city and decent spots for bikes can be has for $75/mo even in pac heights. Get off the curb or it should be kicked to the curb.

  16. What you don’t realize is that if you park a motorcycle on the street, it will be hit by a car and knocked over. I rode for about 12 years here and every bike I ever parked on the street got knocked over at least once a year.

    I think this guy should park behind the tree, so he is not blocking the sidewalk anymore than the tree is. In fact, if he doesn’t start locking his bike to something like that, he will end up with his bike stolen.

    Why not share the sidewalk if he is not disturbing you? The old “live and let live” San Francisco attitude is unfortunately being replaced with a “my way or the highway” approach from many of the new wealthier citizenry.

    And that is a shame.

  17. i ride a motorcycle and live in noe valley. i’ve been riding for 6 years and used to park on the street. now i park on the sidewalk as close to my house as possible. i do this because i became tired of having my bike knocked over and vandalized, including having my gas lines pulled leaking gas onto the street. i thought if i parked close to my house it would deter the vandals and avoid bad parkers. and well, it worked. but parking in the middle of the sidewalk is obnoxious. it would be nice if ya’ll respect motorcycles parked on the sidewalk that respect the pedestrian right of way.

  18. calling in $100 tickets is pretty harsh if its not blocking your driveway. leaving a note the first time seems much more reasonable.

  19. Screw kids. Why is the sidewalk supposed to be made perfectly safe for toddlers? Whiny parents don’t own the sidewalk or have a better right to them than anyone else. Kids should play in a park and be in a stroller on the sidewalk.

  20. Truth be told, motorcyles are cool and fun. But I do have a problem with folks who have, say, Harleys, and operate them at full blast on narrow streets in the city. Open road in the countryside? Have a ball. Do your thing. But if you’re revving up on a narrow Mission street? Come on. You know darn well that’s bothering the s**t out of all your neighbors.

  21. Posted By Dudley Perkins on Oct 13, 2008:
    Find a truck to fall under, willya?

    I don’t like loud Harleys, either (I like Japanese and European bikes), but wishing death or dismemberment on someone? Wow. You sound like one of those guys who purposely opens his car door into motorcyclists or road rages someone into a tree and then drives away. Just the kind of neighborly attitude I expect in S.F.!

    Even if you didn’t mean what you said, the attitude of several of the other posters is just as obnoxious. Paco and Jim have the right idea – try just asking the guy to park in a spot where it doesn’t bother you as much, instead of tattling to the teacher and calling the DPT. If it bothers you to that extreme extent to be around people and noise, maybe the city isn’t for you?

  22. Also, take a look at that bike. It’s not a tricked out $50,000 chrome chopper. It’s probably someones’ only vehicle. Sheesh!

    [Editor’s note: Joe, thanks for the comments. Dudley was a bit rude wasn’t he? As for the only vehicle. Not so. Black GMC in the background is the second vehicle.]

  23. Count me as another motorcycle hater.

    They are noisy and obnoxiously so.

    I’m afraid it’s going to get worse too, as people think they are saving gas/money by buying an accident waiting to happen.

  24. I stumbled across this post while looking for a real motorcycle spot near a venue I’ll be visiting this evening.

    I’m stunned. All this over someone parking their motorcycle in what is quite clearly an unobtrusive location.

    So I’ll leave you with a few points to mull over before I go:

    1) Where would you prefer this guy park? He could quite easily put the bike one two feet over ON THE STREET. This would accomplish what?
    * Hot tailpipes (which are just as easily found on cars) would still be readily accessible.
    * One less spot for a car…which is certainly more rude IMHO.
    * Does nothing to prevent the noise.
    * Allows another 2 feet of sidewalk on what is clearly a low volume area and that “lane” in the sidewalk is already congested with trees et. al.

    2) To you the motorcycle haters: Get out of your SUV. We are saving gas and a ton of money in the process (about $800/month for me). My bike gets between 40-50 mpg, allows me to not sit and idle in traffic (more wasted gas, more congestion) and enables me to park in a very tiny footprint…such as an unobtrusive part of the sidewalk.

    3) Regarding loud pipes…yes, I too find straight pipes annoying; however, ninety percent of motorcycles are relatively quiet, and even a higher ratio of scooters. Many make their bike louder for safety reasons (I did). Too many auto drivers are completely oblivious to their environment. Further, there are just as many loud, obnoxious or unsafe cars and trucks as bikes. So don’t get too high on that soapbox.

    4) There isn’t much in the way of dedicated motorcycle parking…and I’m guessing there isn’t any in your neighborhood. I’m sorry it may rankle you that the sidewalk is only 8 feet wide at a particluar point instead of 12…but I’ll deal with your annoyance rather than park where some oblivious idiot is going try and squeeze his truck right next to me and knock my cycle over yet again.

    So now I return to my google search for a place to park my motorcycle; because although there are always plenty of proper spots for you and your MASSIVELY OVERSIZED SINGLE COMMUTER VEHICLE, I try to do what I can to have a more positive impact on my world, my neighborhood and my environment.


  25. Parents concerned about their toddlers…long-time sf renters- citizens—all of you- You live in a metropolitan area. There are myriad concerns about the welfare of the citizens in which you live – the economy is going haywire and the majority of you still subscribe to having a ruling class looking over a proletarian majority. But the topic is motorcycles so – Loud exhaust saves lives. Motorcycles consume one tenth the oil and gasoline as your car, in the worst case-Harleys. That exhaust allows you to hear us on the highway as your child sings along to dora the explorer on your minivan’s television. I cant give you a ticket when your kid is screaming and crying while I’m out with my lady-friendtrying to have a discussion concerning overpopulation and solutions for food shortages etc…can I? Maybe you should consider the suburbs for a quieter lifestyle. Seems most of you are already in the mindset. For those of you progressive few wanting to make a change…get a bike..put on loud exhaust..plan on spending less than 20 bucks a month at the pump and enjoy the california roads. Your neighbors might hate you, but they do anyway…because they hate themselves and the decisions they made with their life ,and they want someone to blame it on …

  26. Studies say there is no correlation between loud pipes and a lower rate of accidents. The Hurt report claims 77% of all motorcycle obstacles come from in front of the bike – pipes point and direct most of their sound behind them. As in any relationship – afterall, like it or not, that’s a relationship you have with harley guy – open comunication is a good way to find effective compromise of differences, assuming you want your relationship to continue, which you probably both do in that the relationship is based upon the location of your homes. Bikes don’t have to be loud. The first week I had my bike I thought I’d do the right thing. I parked on the street in a spot unable to accommodate a car. I went to ride it and found that it had sustained some damage from a fall. At least someone had the decency to stand it back up, but the throttle had been damaged and would not release once opened. That could have killed me, but I tend to check the bike every time I ride. I now park on the sidewalk, an inch from the wall of my house and cover it. Please don’t call DPT on me. Thanks

  27. Wow. Consider a gated community. Consider the facts: motorcycles are much more economical, environmentally friendly, and have an extremely small footprint (including, even, the ‘egregious’ Harley). Unfortunately out of ineptness, yuppie social-deviance, or weird pathological motorcycle resentment, bikes get consistently knocked down and damaged when parked on the street, especially by big SUVs and other gas-guzzling vehicles that block a driver’s rear view. Now those should be illegal.
    I’m assuming you drive a car. If you ride a bicycle only, then you can kvetch.

  28. From a purely economical standpoint, presuming a late model Harley. A knocked over motorcycle can cost $1000 damage. The insurance for coverage for collision is about $1000/yr, which is what covers knocked over motorcycles. If a ticket is $40 on the sidewalk, that’s 25/yr tickets in lue of insurance. SFMTA is more aggressive ticketing motorcycles on the street than on the sidewalk, but they do occasionally ticket the sidewalk, maybe once a month in my experience.

  29. no one seemed to mention that the major reason bikes park on the sidewalk is because it cost money to park on the street. Should be free for bikes to encourage people to get out of the cages.

  30. Want to concur with the motorcycle riders here:
    1) It is possible to responsibly park on the sidewalk. Either on a very wide sidewalk, between other obstacles where you are not creating an additional impediment or up against a building, again on a very wide sidewalk.

    2) Parking on the street near cars means that someone will bump and/or knock over your bike. This can costs hundreds of dollars to repair. Drivers NEVER leave notes if they do this

    3) Parking on the street in those little spaces between driveways, is often even worse. Cars backing out of garages, especially SUV’s will clip your bike and knock it over.

    4) The optimum solution is a few dedicated motorcycle parking spots on every block.

    5) If a motorcycle is inconveniencing you, the first step should always be to talk to the owner or leave a note (unless its a totally unreasonable situation). Calling parking enforcement should never be the first option.

  31. sorry Danny, but you have it all wrong. It IS illegal to park a motorcycle on the sidewalk.

    My first option when I see that is to call the parking enforcement. simple.

    obey the law.

  32. I just came across this discussion while researching the legality of parking my motorcycle on the sidewalk in front of my apartment in San Francisco.

    Parking a motorcycle on the sidewalk is not permitted, unless it is in the “shadow zone” of a building, meaning within the distance the stairs of the building extend into the sidewalk.
    Typically, SFDPD doesn’t give out tickets to motorcycles parked on the sidewalk as long as there is plenty of space left for pedestrians, strollers and wheelchairs to pass. They will ticket if someone calls in the violation.

    Before you call SFDPD on your neighbor, you might consider a few things.

    1. Is this really THAT big an inconvenience for you? You must live a pretty sheltered live if this is big enough of a problem to post online. Your downstairs neighbor has to tolerate your kids running up and down the hallway. Consider showing some tolerance as well.

    2. We live in a city, meaning a lot of people share relatively little space. As some people already pointed out, it is sketchy to park one’s motorcycle on the street. Sooner or later, someone will back into it, which can be quite expensive. Plus, I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation of searching for a parking spot for our car and seeing a motorcycle taking up an entire spot (which is perfectly legal), thinking “Dude, do you have to take up this much space?”. Unless there are some 1/2 spaces on your block, where is the guy supposed to park his bike?

    3. I also think it should be illegal to install loud tail pipes like on a Harley, but it isn’t, so don’t take out your annoyance on your neighbor. I would just ask him to keep the noise to a minimum while he is on the block and especially in font of the house. It is called COMMUNICATION, which is quite different to calling him in.

    4. Realize that you live in a city. With all the great things such as convenience and culture, there are some drawbacks to living in an urban environment. If you absolutely can’t handle that, move to a Cul-de-sac in Sebastapol.

  33. what about a gas leak running down the sidewalk from a parked (on sidewalk) in front of an apartment building. Fumes through my windows, possible fire, motorcycle exploding, my building burning…what then? Parking enforcement? a ticket? Towing? Some do-nothing cops?
    This guy’s disregard for people around him is disgusting.

  34. Stephanie, get a life… Do you not have better things to do than imagine wildly unlikely fictitious scenarios? As long as the bike is not blocking pedestrian traffic, what is the big deal? If you don’t like it move to the sticks and take your neurosis with you…

Leave a Reply