While having a two-wheeled vehicle can provide a great way to traverse city streets quickly, avoid traffic congestion and save you money on petrol, there are some rules and regulations to abide by when riding your motorcycle around London and other areas of the UK. Parking areas and certain roads may be restricted or have special lanes that are designated for motorcycle use only, and it's important to know which ones you can use.
Where to park your motorcycle
You can park your motorbike in designated parking areas for motorcycles in car parks and garages; or you can park on the side of the road.
When looking to park your motorbike the obvious place is in a car park or garage that is built for the purpose. There are usually many more spaces for cars than motorcycles dues to the heavier use of four-wheeled vehicles, but most parking areas have reserved a place specifically for motorcycles to park in.
If there are no car parks available you can, of course, park on the side of the road. Make sure to observe any parking restrictions or time limits and never park on double yellow lines unless you relish the prospect of getting a parking ticket and being hit with a fine.
Also, keep a lookout for any non-motorised bicycle parking or stands. Often these areas will allow motorcycles and scooters to park there too. The parking allowances should be checked carefully for each location as they can vary drastically by city, area, borough and council.
Can you park a motorcycle in a car parking space?
Yes, legally motorcycles may park in a car parking space.
If you are parking in a car park or garage and the usually designated motorcycle parking spaces are all full then you can use a space that would typically be for a car. If you are able to park at the front or back end of the space it may be safer for your bike. There have been cases of motorists flinging their car door open and knocking over the bike that is parked next to them.
Similarly, if you are with friends you can courteously park several bikes in one car parking space. How many bikes can fit in one space will vary depending on the make and model but the maximum is usually 4 motorcycles.
Can you park your motorcycle on the sidewalk or pavement?
The answer is ‘sometimes’ unless you are parking in London.
In a similar fashion to parking in bicycle bays, parking on the pavement varies greatly depending on the area or city that you are in. Some cities allow on pavement parking providing you are not causing any obstruction, while some do not permit it at all. A case in point is the city of London where on pavement parking is not allowed under any circumstances. It would be wise to remember the section of the Highway Code that states:
'You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.’
Even if you encounter an area that has no signs restricting on pavement parking don’t be fooled, you will still likely receive a ticket for the infraction.
Where to put a parking sticker on your motorcycle
When you need to pay for parking, either purchase your parking via a pay-by-mobile app or use a document holder to hold a physical sticker.
If you happen to be somewhere that doesn't offer free motorcycle parking and have to purchase a pay and display ticket it can leave you in a bit of a dilemma as to where to put it. Stick it to the bike and you run the risk it being stolen, take it with you and it looks like you didn't pay.
One solution is to purchase a small lockable document holder that attaches to the bike and lets you display your ticket clearly. Or even better, technology has come to the rescue and many car parks and street parking now allow you to pay your parking fee via a mobile app.
Where to put your motorcycle helmet when parked
When you park your motorbike, you'll either need to take your helmet with you or store it on your motorcycle.
If you're just doing a short visit somewhere like nipping into a shop then you may be able to leave your helmet on your bike seat or hang it on your mirror for a few minutes but there's risk of it getting stolen—and motorcycle insurance won't cover a stolen helmet that was simply left out in the open. If you don't want to run the risk of theft, purchase a helmet lock (also known as a gun lock) to secure your helmet to the motorcycle.
Can motorcycles use bus lanes in the UK?
Generally speaking, motorcycles are permitted to use bus lanes in the United Kingdom.
Many bus lanes around the country allow motorcycles. However, the rules can vary greatly depending on the local government and councils that regulate the area. To ensure you can use the lanes and don’t end up costing yourself a ticket, make sure to check the blue road signs at the lane entrance. This will indicate if motorcycles and other vehicles are allowed and will state any hours that are restricted for use.
Can motorcycles use bus lanes in London?
Yes, motorcycles can in the majority of London’s Red Routes.
Along with other vehicles such as taxis and bicycles, motorbikes also have the luxury of being able to use most of London's Red Route bus lanes. Be careful though, if you happen to ride a motorcycle with a sidecar attached then use of the bus lanes is not permissible for you.
Red routes are indicated by double red lines and most can be accessed if you are on a motorcycle. However, this rule does not apply to all bus lanes so you will still need to check road signs for restrictions before you enter.