Have you ever attempted to park in a public parking lot or parking garage and been faced with a sign reading in whole or in part that motorcycles are not allowed? Have you ever attempted to use any roadway to enter any public property only to find out that motorcycles may not enter the property? If you have then the locality which is restricting you access merely because you are on a motorcycle is breaking the law.
Section 33.1-13.1 of the Code of Virginia, prohibits the imposition of any requirement of which the principal purpose is to restrict or inhibit the access of motorcycles and motorcyclists to any highway, bridge, tunnel, or other transportation facility. This provision applies to any roads or transportation facility undertaken or operated by counties, cities, towns and other political subdivisions of the Commonwealth where public funds have been used in whole or in part to plan, design, construct, equip, operate, or maintain the facility. For the purposes of state law a parking garage or parking lot is a transportation facility.
This issue has arisen several times over the last year. This past summer my wife and I were visiting Williamsburg with our two children. We were in our SUV (I apologize for that) waiting to park in the Prince George Street parking garage. Ahead of us was a motorcyclist attempting to enter the garage. It seemed to be taking longer than it should have so I rolled down my window to see why. At that point I heard the attendant say that motorcycles were not allowed in the garage. I could see my wife wince (she knew what was coming) as I exited the car. I found from the attendant that the garage is owned and operated by the City of Williamsburg. The very next Monday a letter went out to the city informing them of the law in Virginia. Within 30 days, that garage was opened to motorcycles. Unfortunately, the issue has now arisen in Big Stone Gap Virginia. The town operates a cemetery. The town does not allow motorcycles to enter the roadways of the cemetery. A letter went out last week and we will see what happens next.
The bottom line is that if the state, or any city county or town uses public money to build, maintain or operate any roadway or transportation facility, they cannot keep motorcycles from using them. We as motorcyclists pay taxes which fund these projects. We should not be told that we can't use them.
I would encourage any motorcyclist who sees any situation similar to the ones described in this article to let the owners know that they are breaking the law. If that does not correct the situation, feel free to give my office a call. We don't charge a dime to enforce this statute. We as motorcyclists have the same stake in protecting equal access to public property as you do, and we will be more than happy to help. As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns about anything I have written, feel free to give me a call at 1-800-321-8968.
The preceding is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Before attempting to settle any claim you should contact an attorney. The rules governing insurance coverage may be different in your state .
Tom McGrath is a personal injury lawyer with credentials that are rare in his profession. When Tom's not lawyering, he's lobbying to protect your rights, or crisscrossing the Commonwealth teaching motorists and motorcyclists about their rights, helping them to understand the insurance laws and how to protect themselves and their loved ones. Got a question? Send Tom an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.motorcyclevirginia.com/.