- The railing/lampost/whatever is closest to the cyclist's destination and therefore most convenient
- There are no cycle racks provided so the only option is the railing/lampost/whatever
- There actually are some cycle racks but all the space is taken up by motorcycles and mopeds
The Deansgate rack from the first photo but on another day:
So what's going on here?. As annoying as it is, I can't really bring myself to totally begrudge the motorcyclists for doing this. If you look at it objectively all it really proves is a lack of proper motorcycle parking in the city centre. There are a few of spots I know of specially for motorcycle parking (Fountain street & Withy Grove near the Printworks for example) but clearly its nowhere near enough if this is happening.
Anybody is going to go for free convenient parking if they can get away with it (which is why the city centre is riddled with blue badge fraudsters) and motorcyclists are no exception, unfortunately it just results in yet another example of cyclists being bullied out of the way.
Update after Ian's question:
Here is the Councils info about motorcycle parking. It's free but there are only 108 defined spaces. From the wording
"Motorbikes found parked in contravention of parking restrictions are liable to receive a parking ticket. All motorbikes are now subject to the same regulations as other vehicles."
it would seem that all these motorbikes should technically be getting ticketed for parking on the pavement, but obviously they are not doing this. Personally I'd prefer them not to get ticketed, but to get more than a paltry 108 spaces. More (motor) bikes = less cars and that can only be a good thing in the long run.
There is also a google map showing each location.
To put these 108 spaces into further perspective: My old primary scool; Down Primary in Gee Cross has as many spaces for their pupil's bicycles as the entire city centre does for motorbikes. And the primary school spaces come with a roof.