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High rates of recent moped accidents, many of which involved students, prompted University of Wisconsin and city officials to consider changes in policy that might restrict parking locations.[/media-credit]

Mopeds are involved in about 30 to 40 injury-producing accidents per year in the University of Wisconsin campus area, making moped drivers more involved in crashes than any other class of motor vehicle operators.

With the prevalence of moped use at UW, policymakers are looking at reforms to both city and campus moped policy, according to a UW Transportation Services presentation on moped use.

UW Transportation Services Director Patrick Kass said there are currently about 1,800 permitted mopeds on campus.

Kass said in terms of future changes to moped policy, UW Transportation is focusing on the process of modifying campus moped parking rules. He said mopeds are not being used in the way they were intended to.

“We are seeing mopeds being used as an intra-campus commuting option when the intent was for them only to be used to drive to and from campus,” Kass said in an email to The Badger Herald.

According to the UW Transportation Services presentation released last month, potential policy changes for Madison include mandating operator eyewear and headlamp use.

UW Police Department Sgt. Aaron Chapin said for the past several years, two UWPD officers have been working to implement changes to Madison moped law to increase safety through a committee involving campus and city officials.

Policy changes for the UW campus could include assigned parking lots with a guaranteed stall in the assigned lot, with some available all-access lots and permits being valid in any lot after 4:30 p.m, according to the UW Transportation Services presentation.

Currently, the moped parking system allows individuals to park in any of the lots, Kass said.

Student Transportation Board member Chase Wilson said the proposed parking policy has merit as it will decrease moped traffic during passing hours, and that Kass’s point about mopeds needing to be used less for intra-campus transportation seems logical.

“There’s a lot of logic and reason behind that, and the fact that this recent accident happened seems to validate that point,” Wilson said. “Hopefully [the policy] will be good for campus as a whole.”

Chapin said with the high use of mopeds on campus, safety is a primary concern and unsafe moped operation can be extremely dangerous for pedestrians and vehicle operators alike.

He said in terms of safety, UWPD is focused on informing campus on the rules and regulations of moped operation.

“We really try to educate the campus community to make sure that people operating mopeds on and off campus are safe and informed,” he said.

Chapin added that UWPD highly encourages helmet wear and knowing the laws, including that riding double on a moped is illegal.

He said important to note is that mopeds must obey the same laws that motorcycles and other vehicles do, and that the high amount of pedestrian and motor vehicle activity in Madison means an increased possibility for serious accidents.

Regarding the accident involving a bicyclist and a moped driver on Monday, Feb. 27, that occurred on the 1600 block of Linden Drive, Chapin said UWPD is still investigating to ascertain exactly what happened.

“At this point, no citations have been issued,” he said. “We’re still conducting our investigation, and if there are any charges they will be taken care of.”

Chapin also said he wanted to make it clear that as of now, the incident should not be looked at as a moped hitting a biker, but as a crash between the two. He said since the investigation is still ongoing, blame cannot be placed on either person involved.

UWPD officials did not return calls at press time regarding exact statistics on moped crash frequency.