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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Parking a Scooter in Rome

A designated--but full--scooter parking area, near the
Spanish Steps
It's often said that it's impossible to get a bad meal in Rome.  If you've been in Rome for more than a few days, and did your best to enjoy a gloppy fetuccini Alfredo, you know that's not true.  The same could be said of "it's easy to park a scooter in Rome."  But why?  Scooters are small; the options are many; and, if need be, you can always squeeze another one in.  That's not how it works, at least not always.

Dedicated scooter parking, adjacent to Termini
(and one on sidewalk)

Scooters (and motorcyles) blocking scooters. Rude.
Unlike American cities, where parking regulations are posted in great detail on signs (Los Angeles specializes in byzantine instructions that require careful reading and deciphering), Rome has few postings.  The main exception is "Divieto di Sosta," a phrase you'll see on garage doors everywhere.  Parking in a driveway is a bad idea. 

About a decade ago, in an effort to bring some order to Rome's parking mess, the city created scooter parking areas, visible by the whites lines that set off individual scooter spaces.  If a designated area (photo above) is full, you can take a slight risk and park adjacent to the official area--as close as you can get--in a sense recognizing that the designated parking area exists and that you're doing the best you can to obey the rules (see photo at end of post).  Sometimes frustated drivers of automobiles will take up several scooter spaces--not nice, and surely illegal.  Perhaps the worst thing you can do is to park so that other scooters can't get out, as in the photo above  right.  Our Italian friends who work in the city center tell us that those who park illegally in the Centro are risking a ticket.  There's more tolerance, and less enforcement, in outlying areas. 

A Friday night at the MAXXI gallery, with sidewalk parking
Scooters park on sidewalks, too.  But which sidewalks?  Some sidewalks are fair game for parking, and others are not.  Custom prevails.  If you see a sidewalk full of scooters, you should feel free to join them--assuming there's a reasonable space.  If the sidewalk is clear of scooters, go elsewhere.  If there's one scooter on a sidewalk, there's a reasonable chance that it's OK to  put one more up there.  (By the way, it's perfectly OK to drive your scooter on the sidewalk--albeit cautiously--to reach a parking place).  Some commercial establishments don't mind scooters parking on the sidewalk (or in the Centro, on the street) on front of their businesses, while others--especially establishments catering to an elite clientel--obviously do.  Use common sense.  In the suburban-like Flaminio neighborhood where we lived for a time, we parked on the sidewalk in front of the building--tempting because it was so broad--but only if the designated area across the street was full.  When there's a large-scale special event in the neighborhood, like an exhibit opening at a museum, scooters use the sidewalks. 

Two things are wrong here: a woman has a) parked
her car in designated scooter spaces and b) knocked
over some scooters.  A bad day.  Bill helped her right
the scooters.  See his contemporaneous post
Scooters sometimes (and apparently legally) park in the larger spaces set off for cars, designated by blue lines.  But custom  pervades this area, too.  It is considered bad form--that is, piggy--to park a scooter in the center of a space intended for cars.  On a recent trip to the beach, where parking was available on the sides of the beach road, we parked the Malaguti in a space big enough for a car.  Young people in the car behind expressed their consternation and asked us to move, which we did, and easily enough.

Especially in very crowded areas, it's appropriate for a scooter to use as little as possible of the car space, leaving most  of the space free for a small automobile.  Parking between two parked cars is fine, but only if you leave enough space for the cars to clear your bike or, if the cars are parked side-by-side, enough space for car drivers and passengers to enter and exit.

Rural parking, below Monte Cavo
In rural areas, one can park on the side of the road with impunity.  In the photo at right, we've parked the Malaguti near an intersection in the Colli Albani, in preparation for a hike up Monte Cavo (photo right).  Many country roads are more isolated than this one, but we've never had a problem leaving our scooter on the side of the road, often for 6 hours or more. 

A small percentage of scooter owners in the city use a commercial parking garage at night.  We did so for a time, once because we were warned that thieves would relish the brown leather seat on our Piaggio Hexagon, again when we purchased a new Malaguti.  We slept better, and the scooters stayed cleaner when they weren't vulnerable to birds and Rome's pioggia sporca (dirty rain). But it's not cheap (about E60 per month), and garage-parking can be inconvenient: garages usually close at midnight, and ours closed on Sunday at noon. 


Designated scooter parking--Largo S. Susanna--with some cheating on this end

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