The day of the free ride_or, more accurately, of free downtown parking_is over for Washington motorcyclists.

For the last couple of years, cyclists (and that includes those on motorized bikes and mopeds) have enjoyed free all-day parking privileges at eight locations in and near the downtown area. The sight of all those legal freeloaders has made more than one automobile driver envious and occasionally angry.

Now the D.C. Department of Transportation has decided to erect meters and collect fees from the cyclists. Tara Hamilton, speaking for the department, said the regulation providing for the fees was adopted officially last month.

The fee will be 25 cents for three hours, and the meters will be rigged so an all-day (nine hour) fee of 75 cents can be paid at one time. The rate is far less than that for automobiles, which ranges up to 75 cents for a single hour. There are few all-day car spaces, either free or metered, in or near downtown.

The motorcycle parking areas in the near Northwest are at or near 15th and I streets, 19th and Q streets, Sixth and E streets, 22nd and F streets, 18th and H streets, 14th and K streets and 17th and M streets. The one in Southwest is at Seventh Street and the Southwest Freeway Frontage Road, outside the HUD building.