On your bike: Public servant, Nathan O'Brien, of Nicholls, has recently bought a motorcycle to avoid Parliamentary Triangle parking fees. Photo: Graham Tidy
Money-conscious public servants are heading to motorcycle stores in larger numbers in an attempt to dodge the ACT’s new pay-parking fees.
Four of Canberra’s largest motorcycle and scooter retailers said they had received dozens of expressions of interest from parliamentary triangle workers over the last couple of months.
Public servant Nathan O’Brien, 31, said he’d been thinking about getting a motorcycle for years, but the introduction of pay parking had tipped him over the edge.
He just bought a Kawasaki Ninja 300, which in total will cost him less than two years of parking fees, after tax.
‘‘Particularly because I live in Nicholls and it’s hell trying to get a bus out of there... I’m not going to pay for the car and it’s about an hour and a half on a bus, so the bike’s the best option,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve got a heap of colleagues planning to do the same. One has just bought his and I work with two other people who are getting bikes this weekend for the same reason.
‘‘They’re looking forward to riding, but the pay parking’s a factor.’’
Joe’s Motorcycles owner Joe Spratford said he had already sold at least half a dozen scooters to concerned public servants.
‘‘It’s becoming a bit of a topic. Probably about a month to six weeks ago it started to pick up a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re just looking for scooters because they think the parking will be too dear and they can buy themselves a motorcycle and get away with the parking fees.
‘‘People are surveying their options.’’
From July 1, pay parking will be introduced throughout the parliamentary triangle, costing almost $3000 a year for public servants with cars.
However, motorcyclists and scooter-owners will be able to continue to park for free.
Canberra Motorcycle Centre operations manager Andrew Barber said you could get a brand new Honda CB125 road bike for $2499, less than the cost of a year’s pay parking.
He said there had been an increase in interest from returning riders and couples who were considering a bike as a third vehicle.
‘‘We’ve seen partners and friends coming in together, both public servants, looking into getting motorbikes,’’ he said.
‘‘A lot of couples are going to be keeping their second vehicle in the garage and use their motorcycle as a cheap way to beat the parking fees.’’
At a National Capital Authority public forum on Thursday, April 3, motorcycle-riding public servants took the authority to task for not creating enough parking spaces.
The NCA said they would be adding 10 new motorcycle spaces to what was already available.
But 30-year-old Lena Saboisky, who rides a motorcycle to her job in the parliamentary triangle, said that wouldn’t even meet current demand.
‘‘The parking’s been free, so it hasn’t been a priority, whereas now that the pay parking is coming we’re quite concerned we won’t be able to get bike spaces,’’ she said.
‘‘I daresay staff won’t be happy if they have to pay for motorcycle parking in the triangle because there happens to be a large uptake.’’
A spokesperson for the NCA said they were doing their best to respond to people’s needs and recognised there could be an increased demand for spaces.
‘‘We’ve already booked in an audit of all the spaces from the first of July, that’s across the whole state to see what impact the introduction of pay parking has,’’ she said.
‘‘Part of that audit would look at the amount of motorcycle parking.’’
The spokeswoman also said if there was an increase in demand for motorcycle parks it would take a matter of weeks to fix, not months.
‘‘It is a quick change on our part, just extending a space and putting up a new sign. It’s not a particularly onerous task,’’ she said.