Mopeds and scooters have been in the news lately around Portsmouth, NH - specifically the downtown area. The moped and scooter population has been booming over the past few years - I remember back in 2007, if you were riding a scooter in Portsmouth, and saw another scooterist, you'd pull over and high five because there were so few other scooterists on the road:
"Woah! You have one of these things too!? Isn't it awesome?? Yea, I know!"
Flash forward to 2014, and scooters/mopeds have been on a steady increase in the Seacoast area - everyone knows someone who owns a Honda Ruckus to get to the beach and back, or a Puch Maxi to commute to and from work. They are a fun, practical, and economical means of transportation, and the masses are starting to catch on. I generally consider this to be a good thing. However, the abundance of mopeds in the downtown area is starting to take its toll. As a rule of thumb (look up the actual regulations), mopeds and scooters are allowed to park in essentially the same fashion as a bicycle - they can be parked at bike racks, on sidewalks, behind dumpsters, etc., so long as they are not in designated "NO PARKING" areas, and they do not hinder the passage of vehicular or pedestrian traffic. Pretty sweet policy if you ask me. That's why I think its important that all scooterists and mopedders are considerate when parking downtown.
In a town that is already plagued by car parking issues, the amount of scooters parked on sidewalks, and other areas, is starting to have its effect. In Scooter Surge: Increased Ridership Raises Parking Concerns in the Portsmouth Herald, the co-owner of Poco's restaraunt complains that scooters are parking in a designated "NO PARKING" area in front of his dumpsters. I found the "jist" of his quotes pretty fair - he is even a supporter of mopeds/scooters downtown - his only concern is that if his kitchen guys can't throw away the trash because the dumpster is blocked by scooters, he has a problem. Pretty fair!
In this more recent article, titled Scooters on Sidewalks a New Portsmouth Problem, a local taxi cab operator complains that his taxi stand is blocked by scooters on the sidewalks - making it difficult for his fares to board his cab... they'd either need to manuever through a row of scooters, or walk into the street. Certainly less than ideal from a cab operator's perspective.
I am happy to see that these "problems" are mostly localized to very specific areas downtown, and can and have been mitigated on a situational basis instead of blanket policy change. The latter of the two articles implies that the situation at Pocos has been mostly resolved by the issuing of new signage to delineate the dumpster area as a "NO PARKING" area. That's great! Now I think that if we are all considerate and concious when parking our scooters downtown, we can help maintain a solid flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the "Laissez-faire" parking policy that we have all come to know and love. So next time you park your scoot, just do a quick 360 and check for the obvious, and not so obvious, ways that you could be impeding someone else's progress. OK!