A Motorcyclist's Perspective on Overpopulated Parking

Assistant Editor-in-Chief Hannag Hawkins

Photos by Hannah Hawkins & Jacob Inouye

MY STORY BEGINS LIKE THIS:

on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 3:41 p.m., I was issued a parking citation at UH Hilo. The ticket read, “parking in a prohibited area.” Now this might not seem like an uncommon occurrence within the first couple weeks of school, but in my case I got a little fiery over this otherwise minor annoyance of a ticket.

I ride a sport bike - a 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 250 to be exact. Although this is technically classified as a motorcycle under state law, this streetbike is only slightly bigger than a moped or scooter. I thought I was doing the right thing by obtaining a parking permit; motorcycles are considered the same as a car or truck when it comes to parking permits. I therefore paid the same amount, though my bike is only a fraction of the size of a four-wheeled vehicle.

Motorcycles are allowed to park in designated motorcycle parking areas - there are a total of five on campus - or in the respective parking zone, as determined by the parking permit placed on the motorcycle.

After placing my parking permit on my motorcycle, I proceeded to park by the bookstore where I had previously seen other motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles parked. To my dismay, I returned to my bike around 6:30 p.m. only to realize I had apparently parked in a prohibited parking zone for motorcycles, as noted by my ticket.

I decided to appeal this citation for a number of reasons. First of all, I had seen a number of other motorcycles parking where I had parked with no parking permit and, to my knowledge, I never saw any of them receive a parking violation. Second, there are also no signs specifically saying that motorcycle parking in that location is prohibited. Third, my motorcycle was not taking up space from mopeds, scooter or bicycles and was not preventing any from riding in or out. Fourth, my motorcycle is only 250cc - meaning it is light enough to potentially be picked up and put into the back of a truck and stolen out of the general parking lot at UH Hilo. Because the school is not liable for cars broken into or stolen, I decided I did not want to run the risk and would rather park my motorcycle closer to campus where suspicious activity would be more easily noted. Lastly, there are very few actual designated motorcycle parking areas when looking at the University’s interactive parking map, and of the five total, none are within close proximity to Campus Center. Four are on the outskirts of campus, and one is near Hale ‘Ikena.

Also, I find it peculiar that when looking at the interactive parking map found on the University website, 23 icons show places where bicycles may be parked and only four icons show places for scooters/mopeds. These four icons are also the same for motorcycle parking areas. Mopeds and scooters can be seen parking in locations on campus where there are not designated icons. Should they not be allowed to park there or should this open up to allow motorcycles to park there as well? Furthermore, it appears as if the larger, thicker steel racks are in place for mopeds and scooters to be locked up to, yet some of these structures are also located in places where there is no scooter icon on the map.

According to the UH Hilo website, as of Jan. 16, 2016, Auxiliary Services’ parking stall count notes 2,193 total parking stalls available on the main campus, with only five designated motorcycle parking areas. Those five areas were made into motorcycle parking because they are odd shaped and not fit for cars to park there. (I’m not sure where the fifth motorcycle parking area is, since the map only shows four.)

The University’s Auxiliary Services explained that the process of assigning where motorcycles vs. mopeds/scooters should park has stemmed from the DMV’s classification of the two groups. To the school’s knowledge, mopeds and scooters are considered Class 1, the engine size being 49cc or less. Motorcycles on the other hand are considered Class 2, the engine size being larger than 49cc. Mopeds and scooters require only a driver’s license to operate where as a motorcycle requires an additional endorsement license.

Talking to the DMV via phone, an employee said that mopeds/scooters and motorcycles are still considered two separate classes. However, the department’s website contradicts their own employees’ words. According to www.dmv.org, “In Hawaii a motor scooter must go through the same registration process as a motorcycle. Also, the laws for scooters and motorcycles as essentially the same. This means to ride a scooter in Hawaii you must obtain a motorcycle-class license and have the proper insurance.”

If this is the case, then either mopeds and scooters should have to pay for a UH Hilo parking permit park like cars, trucks, and motorcycles, as well as park in the general lot. Otherwise, motorcycles should be allowed to park with mopeds and scooters, since they are all equal in the eyes of the State of Hawai‘i. Nevertheless, I look forward to going further in depth on these issues - so if you’re a student and want to share your experience on parking at UH Hilo, feel free to reach me at kalahea@hawaii.edu.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.