No more Mojo for motorcyclers

I’m angry.

On three consecutive visits to Wellington city for coffee meetings I received 4 tickets on my motorcycle. Here’s the chap that gave me the third one – he is drawing a diagram of the location of the bike. Note that the bike is off the main footpath area, and between a tree and a driveway, not somewhere where people walk and does not impede car or other traffic.

The first ticket I received was a warning. I’d had a quick chat to the the ticket giver as I rushed to a meeting, trying to understand why policy had changed.

The next ticket was a $40 fine and another $200 fine for having no registration displayed. Registrations fall off motorcycles. The last one, that’s the photo above, was another $40 fine. I have not bothered to go back to the CBD since, and did a bunch of Christmas shopping in Auckland instead. Merry bloody Christmas, and don’t forget the ACC levy has gone up a bunch as well.

I have received only one other motorcycle parking ticket from the over 70 countries that I have ridden in (London, outside the AA while getting the fundamentally useless international driving license), and in almost all of them I have parked on the footpath or on other unofficial parking spaces.

There was a good reason why I parked on the footpath:

All of the official motorcycle parks were full – I know because I spent time looking around (and thus was later than normal to meetings)

The enforcement of motorcycle parking rules has no room for logic from the enforcers. Here are two scooters receiving warnings:

They are smaller bikes, and so are not poking out into the street, nor on the footpath. Their crime as to be on a dotted yellow line.

Their crime was also to be be part of a massive shift to motorcycles as a result of a recession, rising fuel prices and increasing realisation that bikes are better than cars for commuting and traveling.

This, according to Jon Visser, the WCC person in charge of the shift in policy, resulted in hundreds more bikes coming in to town each day. While this may have freed up car parks in parking buildings, it also jammed the motorcycle parks.

As he explained, the problem was commuters – people riding to work, parking their bike all day in a bike park, and then riding home.

So entered a policy change to push motorcycles into car parking buildings. That’s paid car parking buildings.  I used to park my motorcycle for free in a variety of car parking buildings, and it seems that now, thanks to the efforts of Mr Visser, I’m going to have to pay. That sucks, and it changes the incentives for having a bike in the first place.

But wait – I’m not a commuter, and the car parking buildings only have a $50-$100 (in the examples I heard) monthly deal for riders. There is, it seems, no casual parking deal for occasional visitors, or those like me that pop into town for meetings. So now I am locked out of parking in all but two, still free, car parking buildings.

It gets worse. Let’s run through the economic incentives to show how this is failing for me:

Economic incentives

1: Commuters that arrive early will find empty free motorcycle parks, and park there all day.

2: Commuters that arrive late to work, that previously parked on the footpath or in street niches, will choose either to arrive earlier, pay for a car park building, or to park further away.

2.1 If they arrive earlier then the other early arrivers will confront the same choices – the problem is simply moved to even earlier. This makes for earlier starts for everyone, and I guess as a result higher coffee sales, but worsened family situations as Dad or Mum has to abandon home earlier.

2.2 If they pay for a car park they are now out of pocket by $50. This is economic loss.

2.3 If they move to another bike park then they are transferring the problem to a new set of riders, and they are also subjecting themselves to a longer total commute, and to the pain of traipsing for long distances in full protective gear.

2.3.1 Riders can choose to reduce the inconvenience of traipsing by either wearing less protective gear – which increases their chance of injury or death while riding

2.3.2 or they can acquire luggage for their bike to place their gear into. This makes the bike bigger when parked and also harder to ride, especially for learners in Wellington’s wind,  increasing both the parking and the injury/death problems

3: Once a commuter has a motorcycle park, then they will not move for the day, because they know they will  unlikely be able to get a bike park anywhere else.This means that the bike parks will not churn, meaning that places will not become available throughout the day. I’ve noticed this.

4: Day trippers, or casual riders (such as myself) are thus unable to get bike parks through the day as the free parks are full of commuters and the paid parks are only available on a monthly basis. As someone that can ride to the city several times each day this is a big problem. The choices confronting the casual rider are not pretty:

4.1 Park illegally – find a safe place to park and put the bike there. Wear any ticket cost – which you are quite likely to get given the large number of ticket givers in the CBD. I’m told that towing is not going to happen under current policy, so consider it a $40 price to park. Oh – and since you are going to get a ticket anyway, don’t worry too much about parking the bike out of the way of pedestrians and motorists.

4.2 Park and walk – in Oriental Bay or Thorndon somewhere else that far away. This makes a mockery of the purpose of riding a motorcycle, which is to increase convenience. You also have the problem of shifting the parking problem elsewhere, all of that gear and the extra time for the visit to town, the bike being in position for longer, walking in inclement weather and a higher chance of theft.

4.3: Choose to go elsewhere or not to go. I’ve found myself reconsidering the “quick coffee” concept in the CBD after these draconian measures were bought into place. That’s sad. I’ve yet to get a ticket for parking on the footpath in The Hutt recently. Sorry Mojo, instead of using one of your venues, tomorrow morning I’ve having a meeting in Roseneath. How convenient.

4.4 Park in a car park on the street or in a loading zone. The first will cost you money, and both will have a negative external cost on car drivers, who are going to get justifiably annoyed at the single motorcycle taking up all of their space.

4.5 Choose another mode of transport. There is a clear policy by the local and national governments, to shift people away from motorcycles. They are doing this because of the differential between serious injury rates between cars and bikes. This is a sad argument, as it results in part from the lower experience of the new riders that have recently been forced on to bikes, on roads and car drivers that are relatively unfriendly to riders and most of all on not including the substantial societal benefits of having more people on bikes and less in cars. Those benefits include less emissions, greater capacity for a given road, more parking per square meter and better riders and drivers. That’s right – motorcycle riders have a steep learning curve, but I contend that they end up being, on balance, far superior and safer road users in all vehicles.

I was also encouraged by Mr. Visser to take public transport or to ride a bicycle. Public transport may be OK for regular commuting, but is too slow, irregular and unpredictable to use for dashes into meetings. Meanwhile bicycling is great, but you also have a much higher risk of injury, and once in town a higher risk of getting your bike stolen. Then for me there is that ride back to the top of Mt Vic. I have no desire to do that more than once a day. I’m also lucky I live so close – what about those that live further afield?

Solving all of this

Timed based parking

Jon says that the one thing they are trying to change is commuters using bike parks all day. The solution to this the above is actually in progress and may be ready to go in 6 months, and that’s to impose time limits on some, but not all, of the free motorcycle parks. That will push many day-long commuters off the parks and into longer all-day carparks.

That’s not going to make them happy, so I propose also:

Large, free bike parks

I’d like to see a few larger free bike parks introduced, ones that can take 1-200 bikes if necessary, on the outskirts of the inner-city.  Te Papa, one or two areas on the wharf area and somewhere around the Terrace all work. That way bikers will know where they are virtually guaranteed a park, and there will be security in numbers. Give riders a simple decision for their destination where they are guaranteed a park, and the inner city parks will also become more free.

Sensible sentencing and parking

It is maddening when confronted with draconian laws and this:

That is a dotted yellow line and a lane divider. It also seems like a perfect place to park a motorcycle, or a car, or several of each. The WCC should give parking officials authority to dish out tickets only when a bike is egregiously in the way, when there is an easy alternative park in the area and when a ticket is a last resort. There are plenty of nooks and crannies around Wellington – let us use them sensibly.

Biker Hell
Finally there is the philosophy of the matter. Wellington has chosen to be unfriendly to motorcycles. It’s joining a mere handful nasty law enforcement regime cities around the world when it does so. I’ve motorcycled in hundreds of towns and cities throughout over 70 countries, and have had parking problems in only one: London.

That’s it.and now Wellington.

Jon tells me that Sydney is also pretty rough on bikers, and San Francisco too. I’ve motorbiked in Sydney before and not had a problem, and though I have not motorbiked in San Francisco, I’ve had very little problem in any of the 40 or so US States that I have motorbiked in. Across Northern Europe, a richer, more organised and rule-based society than here, I can park my bikes virtually anywhere, while in Latin Europe and Latin America for that matter, bikes take priority over everything. Actually – Monaco was an exception – a place so unfriendly to bike parking that I did the sensible thing, and left without dismounting. I hear that Monaco is used as a comparator to Wellington – something which made me ill when I think about what a horrible place it was to visit on bike.

I think the pertinent example to follow is the rest of Western Europe, which somehow manages to mix great public transport with superb services for cards, bikes, motorbikes and walkers. There are plenty of cities with similar geographical problems to Wellington, and plenty with larger populations. Why would we want to copy London and Monaco with their nightmarish motorcycle regimes?

And why are we not asking instead:  What can we do to promote Motorcycling?

The Jon Visser Factor

There is another part to this story, and that is the professionalism and engagement by its architect, Jon Visser. Hailing from Holland, a place with great laws for cyclists of all types, Jon has been very active in engaging with bikers. There is even a great 28 page thread on Kiwibiker where he has answered questions from all-comers.

I spent a decent amount of time on the phone with Jon, and he was unfailingly polite, reasonable and logical, but there was no moving his opinion, nor that of his masters. The fix is in, and the council signed off on it.

So perhaps it is time to vote them out, and perhaps I’d even vote for Bob Jone’s crowd if they campaign on bring back the bikes. How about it?


Anyway – I’ve pulled out a few choice quotes from the 28 pages below. Credit to those authors.

“Bugger. We went all out to be as bloody minded as possible to car drivers, so as to force them onto to public transport, despite its vileness. But, lo, the contrary sods are coming in on motorcycles instead. So we’re going to have to turn the clobbering machine on motorcycles also. Once there are no other transport options available , they’ll *have* to use public transport whether they want to or not , which is the only way we’ll ever force people to use it”

the Council would rather see a reduction in the number of motorcycle riders getting hurt or hurting/affecting others. Jon Visser, WCC

From what I’ve read of your comments here, Jon. this has as much to do with the social engineering of commuters onto public transport as it does with the saftey of footpath users. Despite acknowledging that there is a problem with lack of parking around Grey st, rather than address the shortage of spaces for bikes and scooters (in the problem area) the only action it seems the council are prepared to take is “chase ’em off the road”. Clockwork

“there is no way I would park my bike in a Wilson carpark, given the number of bikes that have disappeared from them in the back of vans..”
James Deuce
provides reason enough never to park your bike inside a car park. Others pointed out that the car parks are making more money from the bike parks than car parks.

“I switched to motorcycle commuting because of the shortened time and reliability. The train is cheaper from Johnsonville than riding a bike (once you factor in buying a bike, gear, rego, insurance, servicing etc…) but takes me 25 mins all up (gear off / on, traffic slowness) compared to 45mins on a good day walking to / from the train at either end and assuming the J’ville train is running to time (which it usually is weather permitting).

I actually enjoy commuting on my bike and look forward to beginning my workday with a smile (nice ride in during sunny days) and can cheer up before I get home if I’ve had a bad day. I think that makes me a happier CBD citizen.” Dave Bullet says why biking to work is good for the soul

In January 08 I was in Wellington CBD for a day.. …I settled for a bit of space on the end of a couple of angle parked cars, between car and start of a driveway. I was pleasantly surprised to come back at the end of the day to find the bike unmolested, with no tickets as a welcome. Gremlin explains that tourism demand free parks

“Read Mr Visser’s posts closely Bob. He isn’t after opinions. He’s telling us that WCC are about to start charging for bike parking and is making up figures about how much space is needed to park bikes to justify not providing parking. It is disingenuous to try to put any other interpretation on the matter.” James Deuce says it’s driven by revenue 

“Those prices are going to penalise biker’s wallets, especially if they have moved from $0.00 yearly parking cost for their bike. Suddenly finding $600- $1200- for a years parking.” Swoop responds to Jon Visser’s reporting of $50-$100 per month pricing for bike parking.

Dare I mention it’s free in all the Auckland city carpark buildings?” Sayeth Devil

easily remedied by a change in the wording of the law, ie. ‘Parking on the footpath without due care and attention’. Magic Monkey has a sensible wording change to the parking law

1) there is a lot of unauthorised parking but most are in unused space which is not required by pedestrians.
2) Riders do help lessen congestion – the council needs to take this into account.
3) Commuters make up the vast majority of weekday retailer customers.
Wild_Weston sums it up

As I have stated earlier. It costs me 3x more to take public transport that is unreliable, crowded, germ-fested and inconvenient,
Str8_jacket discounts public transport. I agree.

Published by Lance Wiggs


16 replies on “No more Mojo for motorcyclers”

  1. I’ve parked in a heap of similar places like the one in the photo above, without getting a single ticket so far.
    Will take your post into account when looking for a park in the lower Willis St/Lampton quay area.

    Did the other scooter in the photo get pinged too?


    1. No. Wardens are on a fixed income and they receive that income regardless of how many tickets they issue. There are performance incentives on quality – i.e. that the tickets they issue must be robust and stand up to scrutiny if challenged (i.e. if a ticket needs to be waived or has been incorrectly issued, this would be at a cost to the company issuing the ticket).


    2. Jon Visser responds that: “Wellington City parking wardens do not operate on a quota or a commission basis. The wardens get paid a fixed income regardless of the number of tickets that they issue. There are performance requirements around the “quality” of the ticket that they issue (i.e. it must be issued correctly, in accordance with the policies that Council has set and stand up if challenged) and there would be a performance problem if they did not deal appropriately with offences that they encounter.”


  2. we are being very confrontational people…

    why are we?

    have we suddenly become bad people? what is achieved by this?

    I suspect that the cost of giving the tickets out weighs the cost of letting motorcyclists and scooterists park ‘gracefully’ to use an IT expression, not-in-anyones-way in the city. That is, it would save them money to let motorcycles park where-ever they damn well please! Ironic. Melbourne does.. is that a problem? I didn’t notice it if it was…


  3. I love it how the council is trying to put off bikers, while also scratching their heads and plotting new roads to help with congestion. Surely ANY method if transport outside of cars would be invaluable to the city and make good sense to save on new roads and the obvious side effect of more cars. It always shocks me how dumb and single minded people can be here about either protecting the rights of car drivers. Wouldn’t 2 car parks even allow for a lot of bikes? I reckon they just need to set one or two spots aside in every parking area. Simple!


  4. I like the suggestion you quoted above: “easily remedied by a change in the wording of the law, ie. ‘Parking on the footpath without due care and attention’.” But the problem with this is that it would require the ticketers to use their brains and use logic and reason to work out whether to issue a ticket or not. It’s far easier for them to follow black-and-white laws so there’s no confusion for them. Personally, I don’t see any problems with bikes parked on the pavement as long as they are out of the way of pedestrians.


  5. I picked up a warning yesterday as well, doing exactly the same thing you did but at the bottom end of cuba. I put significant effort into ensuring I impacted nobody and yet …

    I’d say that WCC has an interest in pushing more business towards owners of car parks who I note are now “willing” to provide spaces “on a commercial basis”. I’d also use the word “corrupt” but we all know how angry the Prendergast oligarchs get when we call them out and I wouldn’t want to do that in a public forum now, would I?

    I also note from Jon Visser’s KB post ( that adding additional motorcycle parks would “impact other road users”. So impact them! We can get 6-7 bikes i.e. 6-7 people in the space taken by a single car park … we can raise the on-street parking efficiency of Wellington using some paint and signposts – perhaps we should do that then?


  6. Write a letter of appeal for the registration ticket. I forgot to change my label and got pinged $200 as well. I wrote in saying that I had paid but forgot to change the label. My first letter got an auto-response of no. My second letter got it waived.

    Also, I recently overheard a parking warden talking on their radio, saying they only had “2 to go” before they could finish. Sure points to a quota system.


  7. Yes it is warped. These governments police things as stupid as carparking, but the government had no one policing and checking up on many of these finance companies. They need to get their priorities sorted. They are just turning law abiding citizens into criminals.


  8. I exchanged a series of emails with WCC earlier this year with regard to delivery vehicles regularly (i.e. many times each day) blocking legitimate bike parking on Victoria Street (corner of Victoria and Mercer, opposite the library). Delivery vehicles are illegally parking in front of the bike parking where there is space between the bike park and the main flow of traffic. They are using the space as a delivery bay for local businesses. This is everything from couriers, large delivery trucks, and trades people working on site.

    I informed the council of this and after a few emails, got the response that they would inform their parking attendants to look out for it.

    I have noticed no change whatsoever, and have seen parking attendants walk past illegally parked delivery vehicles. Furthermore, this is happening on a road which is passed many times each day by traffic Police vehicles coming from the vehicle depot off Victoria Street.

    I’d suggest that if WCC wishes to encourage use of official bike parking, then they should ensure that the parks are sufficiently sized and are accessible, with access protected by clearway zones.

    I suggested clearway and/or information signs to help communicate with delivery drivers, but this does not appear to have been actioned by WCC.


  9. Would just like to let you know that down here in Christchurch we don’t seem to have your problem. I regularly park both my scooter and large 1200GS on the pavements and have never received a ticket.

    Also, when I do need to use a motorcycle park I have never had an issue in finding an empty one.

    Maybe Christchurch has missed a step and car drivers have gone from cars to bicycles, missing out motorbikes along the way.

    I think the best city for bikes must be Melbourne. It has wide pavements and its a wonderful sights seeing all the bikes parked along them.


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