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Old 07-13-09, 11:13 AM   #1
DCwom
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Overnight parking

1st time tour planning and I'm stuck on overnight car parking. What/where do people park the car? I'd like my car to be there and not in some impound lot when I return after a long ride.
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Old 07-13-09, 11:29 AM   #2
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1st time tour planning and I'm stuck on overnight car parking. What/where do people park the car? I'd like my car to be there and not in some impound lot when I return after a long ride.
What area do you need to park in?
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Old 07-13-09, 11:45 AM   #3
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What area do you need to park in?
Its really a general question, but we're thinking a small portion of the Erie Canal, or maybe the York rail-trail in PA. Doing a CC tour with a single overnight to see how it works out. I've found overnight lodging, food, transportation back to the start, etc, but the overnight car parking is an unknown.
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Old 07-13-09, 12:00 PM   #4
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If my starting/ending point is in a city with an airport, I park in the airport long term parking lot. They have reasonable prices and security. They also expect cars to be left for several nights without assuming they are stolen or abandoned.

Some (non-airport) parking garages and lots get nervous about cars left overnight or more. If you choose one of these type lots, be sure to talk to someone there about your plans.
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Old 07-13-09, 12:28 PM   #5
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I don't tend to drive to tours or do tours shorter than a week, but... I have parked overnight or for a few days when carpooling on canoing, backpacking, and kayaking trips. I have often left a car at a park and ride for a couple days. I have occasionally left one at a grocery store parking lot. I have never had a problem in either case. If concerned ask around and find somewhere that the owner or manager knows you will be there and is OK with it. If in doubt ask the local police. If that fails, is there a local bike shop? Maybe a church? It shouldn't be that hard to find a place on the fly where there won't be a problem.

If you are in an urban area in a major city, you may have to resort to a pay lot. Just let them know up front what to expect and expect to pay an exorbitant rate.

If by "York rail-trail in PA" you mean the York County Heritage Trail and Northern Central Railroad Trails, the whole thing is only about 42 miles each way. It might be easier to leave your gear behind and do the round trip as a day ride. I prefer to ride on the roads, but some of my coworkers often do the round trip in a day and they often have folks along who are not serious cyclists. If you do that it is probably better to start in Cockeysville since it is uphill toward York and it is easier to do the uphill when you are fresh, even if the grade is slight.
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Old 07-13-09, 12:34 PM   #6
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Its really a general question, but we're thinking a small portion of the Erie Canal, or maybe the York rail-trail in PA. Doing a CC tour with a single overnight to see how it works out. I've found overnight lodging, food, transportation back to the start, etc, but the overnight car parking is an unknown.
Pick a town, then call somebody in the town hall and ask for advice. We did Finger Lakes tours in 2007 and 2008. We arbitrarily chose to start in Seneca Falls, NY. My wife called the town manager and found out that there is long term parking available to serve boaters on the Erie Canal. My wife told the town manager that she was nervous about leaving the car, so the town manager put her in touch with the police department. The police department allowed us to park in their lot for the week we were on tour.

Ask. It's the simplest solution.

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Old 07-13-09, 12:55 PM   #7
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It should be no problem to park in any legal parking space for up to 72 hours. I'd probably choose a residential street. But don't leave it longer than 72 hours or it might get towed away.
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Old 07-13-09, 02:56 PM   #8
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Busy, large parking lots at commercial centers, all-night gas stations/diners/stores (with permission, and offer to pay a few bucks), church parking lots.
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Old 07-13-09, 03:07 PM   #9
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Try the Warm Showers list. I was once contacted by a small group of cyclists who found me, and more importantly, my town, on the Warm Showers list. They didn't need a place to stay, but rather a place to park their van for a week or so. I said OK and gave them directions. I never actually met them, as they arrived and departed when I was at work. They kindly left a T-shirt from their club for me.
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Old 07-13-09, 03:24 PM   #10
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Don't know for sure, but I'd guess that WalMarts are probably ok with leaving a car there if you ask permission. They let people in RVs stay overnight in their lots so I'd think they'd also let you park there as long as it isn't during the busiest shopping season where the lot may fill up.
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Old 07-13-09, 04:34 PM   #11
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I've found overnight lodging, food, transportation back to the start, etc, but the overnight car parking is an unknown.
The place you're overnighting should have no problem with you leaving your car there another night. We left our car for 3 days at a motel where we'd spent the night, no charge.
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Old 07-13-09, 04:41 PM   #12
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I think the answer is a bit different between eastern US and western US. I don't own a car, but when I've gone with folks who stash a car, we generally try to pick places that others also leave cars overnight, e.g.
= airports
= park-n-ride lots for airport shuttles
= motels (with their permission/blessing and likely some business)
In small towns, we've also asked at police or chamber of commerce and put them at the library or park.
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Old 07-13-09, 05:30 PM   #13
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A few years ago I started a tour from a state park here in Ohio. I called ahead and talked to the head ranger who told me to park my car in the lot next to the ranger HQ so they could keep an eye on it. He suggested I remove my rack from the car and lock it inside and to check in after the tour so they wouldn't think the car was missing. I was quite impressed.
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Old 07-16-09, 08:49 AM   #14
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As others mention, with permission.

I've had good luck leaving my car at various lots for hiking & biking, like: LL Bean store, a couple bikeshops, a bunch of state & National Parks/forests etc.

I've heard that some Walmarts are very friendly about letting folks park in there lots (I'm thinking about the RV folks).
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