Madison's City Council approved stricter moped parking rules to keep city sidewalks and terraces clear. 

PHOTO BY M.P. KING - State Journal

Beginning in January, moped drivers will not be able to park their rides at bike racks and on sidewalks following the City Council’s approval Tuesday of stricter rules.

Under the current law, mopeds are treated like bicycles and owners can park them at bike racks and on sidewalks as long as they do not impede pedestrians. However, downtown alders argue that mopeds are cluttering the streetscape and becoming a nuisance.

Ald. Ledell Zellers, District 2, said the practice of parking on terraces is a problem in the downtown.

“You really can’t have great public spaces with a wall of mopeds, which is what we have in front of many of our apartment buildings,” Zellers said.

The new ordinance classifies mopeds as motorcycles for parking purposes, meaning that moped drivers would be prohibited from parking them on public sidewalks or terraces, the space between the sidewalk and the curb.

Exceptions to the proposed new rules include areas that would be established specifically for moped parking. A property owner could apply to include moped parking on a sidewalk or terrace if the area meets certain zoning conditions.

The new rules are effective Jan. 1, and a $60 fine is proposed for those who violate the ordinance. Ald. Zach Wood, District 4, previously proposed the January start date to allow time to educate students on UW-Madison’s campus who use mopeds.

Because currently parking on city property is free, some moped users may choose to forgo paying for a moped parking space at their apartment building for financial reasons or convenience.

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“I really don't think the city should be subsidizing private developers by providing free moped parking on the public terrace for their developments,” Zellers said. “Many owners have responsibly provided for moped parking within their development or on their property, however, sometimes it's not quite as convenient as putting a moped on a public terrace.”

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said some downtown apartment buildings offer free moped parking and others offer permits at a cost of $25 per month. The Hub Madison apartment building at 437 North Frances Street charges $50 per month for moped parking, likely leading to the large number of mopeds parked outside the building, Verveer said.

Opponents of the restrictions, many of whom work downtown, argue they should be allowed to park on sidewalks and terraces as long as the pedestrian right-of-way is clear. Moped drivers who work downtown also argue the current moped rules encourage them to avoid using a car downtown.

Ald. David Ahrens, District 15, said the new rules should be focused on the downtown districts where moped parking is more of an immediate issue. He suggested implementing a $50 per year permit for downtown moped drivers.

“This is a very specific problem and what we have is an entire city wide system that is going to be created,” Ahrens said.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.