[media-credit name=’NATALIE WEINBERGER/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]moped_nw_416[/media-credit]To accommodate for the rising numbers of free-wheeling mopeds on campus, University of Wisconsin officials have begun implementing a more structured and stringent parking policy for the popular student vehicles.

While student scooter drivers once enjoyed the luxury of parking virtually anywhere they pleased — as long as they were not left obstructing pedestrian traffic or on grassy areas — riders will now have to adhere to marked parking spots in designated lots.

Students are also prohibited from parking near bicycle racks on campus.

Those who do not keep to the new moped parking policy on campus could face a $40 fine, or have their vehicle towed. UW police say they will be informing students of the new policy until Sept. 16 before they begin issuing citations to those who fail to comply.

To appropriate signage to the new parking areas, UW transportation services have designed a series of signs featuring the first-ever international moped parking symbol.

The signs will identify designated moped parking areas and areas where it is restricted.

UW Senior Transportation Planner Rob Kennedy said the policy was enacted to inhibit moped drivers from driving on sidewalks, wheelchair ramps and other potentially hazardous detours in search of a parking space.

“What we are doing is to try to organize pedestrian and moped conflicts in general,” he said. “We’re giving these mopeds basically driveways like cars so as they have to cross the sidewalk, they don’t have to go up and down them — so they don’t have to enter traffic illegally.”

Kennedy said mopeds illegally entering traffic and obstructing pedestrians contributed to 37 injury producing accidents involving mopeds in 2003-04.

“That’s the worst injury producing accident of any vehicle we’ve ever seen,” he said.

Kennedy added the policy is designed to “basically accommodate the mopeds out there by having the same or more parking as before” and “provide moped parking that doesn’t require going up and down sidewalks.”

UW senior Dave Eckhardt said he has yet to witness serious safety concerns resulting from moped traffic, adding he thinks there is a significant amount of this traffic.

“But the fact that we won’t be able to park as close to the buildings as we used to kind of defies the idea of a moped,” Eckhardt said, while parking his moped outside of newly striped spaces at the Social Sciences building. “And the fact that they’ll be ticketing and towing mopeds, I think, is wrong as well.”

Eckhardt acknowledged the benefits of increased moped parking, but said he does not believe it will affect safety issues surrounding scooter traffic.

“I do not believe there’s a safety concern at all,” he said. “I don’t see any problems and as a moped rider, I haven’t experienced any.”

Yet UW Police Central Campus Community Officer Kristin Radtke said she continues to see a number of violations and safety concerns associated with moped parking and driving on campus.

“I think it’s going to make mopeds more liable and they’re going to be more [responsible in] how they ride on campus,” she said of the new policy. “It will cut down on mopeds going wherever they want and parking wherever they want — because if they don’t park in a parking zone, they’re going to get ticketed or towed.”

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