May 10, 2010 by LADOT Bike Blog
Sadly -technically- not allowed
We received this comment from reader ‘Joseph E’ regarding locking your bike to a parking meter:
“Why is it illegal? Is it a city ordinance?
Parking meters make great bike parking, and are otherwise a huge waste of sidewalk space.
Care to explain, LADOT?”
Well, technically: yes. It’s a City Ordinance. Follow me below the fold for the longer answer…
Let’s all put our “policy wonk” hats on. Under the City of Los Angeles Municipal Code Chapter VIII Traffic SEC 88.10 it reads:
PARKING METERS AND PARKING METER STANDARDS NOT TO BE USED FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES.
It shall be unlawful for any person to attach anything or to allow a bicycle, newsrack or any other article or thing to lean against a parking meter or a parking meter standard.
Translation: No parking your bike against meters. Yeah, we were pretty bummed out when we fact checked this. Parking against meters being non-kosher really limits the amount of bike parking. When getting some back story on the ordinance, we heard a lot of concerns from various parts of the City.
One rationale we heard was concern for meter technicians and collectors. Having obstructions in the way of meters could preclude them from getting their job done efficiently, which means no coin collection. You may think “it’s only coins”, but any type of revenue generation in these tough economic times won’t be trifled with. On top of that, I’ve been told that in instances where a bike obstructs collection from a meter, it’s policy to cut the lock and impound that bike. Yikes! This may become less of an issue in the future with the implementation of meters that take credit cards. If a meter needs servicing less frequently, it may be less of an issue to have a bike parked to it. LA Daily News
has some great coverage on new credit card meters, though Streetsblog
sees some problems on the horizon.
Additionally, the Office of Parking was concerned meter parking could pose insurance liability for the City. If a bike was stolen from a meter that had its head removed for maintenance or for construction, the City could be held liable.
Other reasoning we heard was that motorists wouldn’t be able to open their passenger side doors if a bike that was locked to a meter had fallen over and blocked the door. Or that bikes would block too much of narrow sidewalks when parked against meters(though maybe that will be grounds to install a bike corral
!). Some of these concerns may not seem like much, but they’re real concerns that were expressed to us by other departments when researching parking bikes against meters. One positive side effect of our digging around is that it’s gotten a lot of people talking about meters and possible solutions.
We find from every bicyclist we talk to about parking against meters, and from our own experience, that this ordinance is not really enforced. At the very least, it’s not a top priority for LAPD. (Ed. Note: Has anyone out there actually been ticketed for parking against a meter? Just curious…) Regardless of its implementation, we hope this ordinance can get overturned. Were meters to be allowed for bike parking, the number of newly legal spots would dwarf the existing 3,600 LADOT U-racks installed throughout the city. A council motion would be necessary to get the gears turning. If you feel like exercising your democratic rights, take action with your city council member. San Diego’s got a pretty interesting solution to bike parking on meters. Maybe they can be used as a model:
Now, some of you might be wondering how we installed those fancy looking “Meter Hitch” bike racks. Aren’t they parking meters too? Well, technically: no. When those parking meters were converted to the multi-space meters, Bike Program Staff was able to convince others in the City that the parking meters were no longer covered under the ordinance.
Isn't that a parking meter too? ...not quite...
The money (eating) portion was taken off and we retrofitted the poles: they were no longer parking meters. In 2009, we were able to secure federal funding which allowed us to convert 446 parking meters into lovely, useful meter hitches. Check the Fact Sheet
for yourself. As more meters are converted to kiosk pay-stations in the city, we hope to convert even more meters into legal hitches. If you know of meters being converted to kiosk parking in your neighborhood, let Bikeways and your council member know.