Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to park a scoot in Boston

Legally, you park a two-wheeled, motorized vehicle with license plates this way: taking up a whole curbside parking space. People will think you're a jackass, but the law is the law and we have to obey, don't we? I've never done this myself since it only seems like a good way to incite enmity, and I've rarely seen another motorcycle or large scooter do it either. Who wants to look like an ass? I'll tell you: the legislature knows what's best for Massachusetts. Let the Law of Unintended Consequences be damned. Nobody voted on that one.

I'm all for order but I'm not too keen on laws meant to protect me from myself or from being inconvenienced. Yes, the world is full of jackass-ery but living among fellow human beings demands that we have to put up with it. Hopefully, our fellow citizens will grow older and wiser and see the error of their ways. Asking the police to intervene by statute rather than standing up in person for civil behavior when we see a transgression abdicates our responsibility as citizens. We are all social policemen. If we don't chastise infringements on basic good manners, we are chattel. I'm not recommending citizens' arrests, but stern words or correction would go a long way if bystanders spoke them more often.

Some motor scooterists ignore traffic laws. Granted. So do truck drivers, car drivers, airplane pilots, hang gliders, surfers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and even motorcyclists. I will tell you straight-faced and without a smidge of regret that I have broken laws governing most of these modes of transportation. Try to sue me. No one was hurt or even endangered. I don't ignore the law. I disregard it when it serves no purpose. Good sense and common sense and respect for one's surroundings and situation are all the same thing. If you run a red light at an empty intersection after midnight in Boston, nothing is damaged but some fussbudgety witness' sense of propriety. "The law is the law," they'll say. The law is a pointless hindrance in this case and the person who sits at a red light in the dead of night is a jackass who thinks a dumb machine is smarter than they are. They may be right. I think, therefor I am and I think I am smarter than a timer set to regulate rush hour traffic at 3:00 AM.

Hubris? Perhaps, but I haven't been proven wrong yet. If you have any sense of propriety you would be complaining about the casual sex and violence that permeates popular culture, not the fact that a motor scooter is unobtrusively locked to a parking meter.

I'm no closet occultist but I don't disagree with the Law of Thelema: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." I tend to vote Republican but I still have a whiff of youthful Anarchy about me. I don't like being told what to do if my actions inconvenience nobody but myself. I am what used to be called a Goldwater Conservative, not that I have any love for nuclear weapons. What I have a love for, which I think most people share, is the right to be left alone if I am not bothering anyone.

I have gotten my share of parking tickets in Boston, ranging from $40-100 dollars for the basic infraction of taking up space with my little Ninja, every time in no body's way and not blocking any access or egress or thoroughfare. For most of my tenure in Boston I have driven a small motorcycle to get around town, a Ninja 250R. When I want to do something besides drive, I park and I do it as I am supposed to in a parking space. I feel guilty taking up a full parking space as the law requires so I usually squeeze into some available void that has ample room at either end and park the way motorcycles are supposed to: with the back wheel against the curb for stability. Illegal in Boston. Perpendicular parking will earn the city $45.00.

I parked next to another Ninja in Brighton one day and met the driver as we were both leaving. She said, "Thanks for taking this spot with me. I feel like a jackass taking up a whole parking spot but I got a ticket last week for taking up less." I said, "We're not the jackasses and neither are the cops. It's the law that makes us all look like we should be braying."

Massachusetts law is changing shortly requiring more vehicles to have license plates. Vehicles with plates are required to take up a full parking space on the street. Motorcyclists are used to this and have been ignoring the rule for years, paying the penalty at random intervals to let other drivers be able to park their cars. Now scooters officially won't be allowed to park on the sidewalk, even if they are discreetly out of the way where no one walks. The city says they won't enforce this rule. We'll see how long that lasts.

If I ever park in a way that impedes a wheelchair or blocks a crowded sidewalk in the least way, feel free to move my Little Ninja aside or kick it over if it's that much in your way. If I am not bothering you, our lives are as they should be: co-equal, co-existant and harmonious, with better things to do than try to regulate each other's behavior.


Christopher said...

Dig it.

Watch the video from yesterday's rally, I ride your bike's big brother, a Ninja 650R.

Whalehead King said...

Two wheels set one free. Thanks for the video


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