In the minutes between classes at UW-Madison, hundreds of students hop on mopeds and scooters to drive from building to building, creating a chaotic scene along with pedestrians and bicyclists.

Now UW transportation officials, citing what they call inefficient and dangerous use by moped owners, are looking to end the practice of students riding between their classes this year by requiring owners to apply for parking in just one of 52 campus lots starting Sept. 1.

The idea is to get moped owners to park in one place and walk or ride buses between buildings, UW Transportation Services Director Patrick Kass said. Owners would have access to that lot, along with seven others around the perimeter of campus.

"We are going to start treating mopeds the same as we do automobiles," Kass said. "They can be used to commute to and from the campus, but not within the campus."

Until this year, a moped parking permit earned an owner access to any moped parking space on campus.

Soon, however, if riders park somewhere other than their lot or an all-access one between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. they could face a $40 ticket.

University officials say the policy will make UW safer and less congested, but riders say it makes their mopeds "obsolete."

"It's not a matter of laziness, it's a matter of getting some place in time," said sophomore and moped owner Anthony Winchell.

Needed change or too restrictive?

University transportation officials say the change will cut down on traffic and crashes in and around the campus. The area sees 30-40 crashes with injuries involving mopeds each year, according to Transportation Services.

But many moped riders say the new policy is too restrictive, and makes it harder for students to get to classes and jobs that might be on opposite ends of the sprawling campus. More than 850 people have signed an online petition calling on the university to reconsider the policy since it was announced in May.

Winchell signed the petition, and said restricting parking to one space during the day, "pretty much renders mopeds useless."

When he bought a permit this month, Winchell had to choose between a space by his classes on one side of campus and his job at a residence hall on the other.

"When I have to get from a class to work in 20 minutes, it's going to be hard to find a bus," Winchell said, "and it would be much more convenient to have my moped parked outside."

Comments on the petition also bemoaned an increase in permit prices — they will cost $120 this year, up from $85 — for something purchasers believe has less value.

Some signers commented they would protest and not buy a permit.

Transportation Services Marketing Specialist Michelle Bacon said that as of two weeks ago the office had sold 700 moped parking permits. The university sold more than 1,700 last year. Permits went on sale earlier this month, with owners choosing from lots on a first come, first served basis.

Bacon said she expected the office to sell many more as classes start.

For the first week of the new restrictions, which take effect a few days before classes start Sept. 4, Bacon said enforcement will take a back seat to education. Rather than issuing tickets to violators, she said, the office would be leaving brochures with information about the new rules.

Soon enough, though, tougher restrictions will mean that reminder could be replaced with a ticket.

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(35) comments


Lazy students would be better off buying an electric bike which could be ridden and parked pretty much anywhere without permit fees.


So let's see. There are 42,000 students on the UW campus and only (maybe!) 2,000 mopeds. How is it that 40,000 students can figure out how to get around campus without the need for a moped and others just absolutely have to have this status symbol as a form of transportation?? If you are in band and have a class until 3:45 PM, you go to band late. Leckrone isn't going to kill you. Academics have always come first. That is why the band has "alternates". To fill your place when you are gone. I know because I was one. From my experience on campus, you can walk from the Engineering campus to Humanities in 15 minutes (the standard class change time). Most classes are held in somewhere in that area. If you can't get from one class to another in 15 minutes, you are doing something wrong (or spending too much time on your phone). Thousands of students have graduated from this university WITHOUT using a moped. You are all smart people. Figure it out.


Our roads are designed for automobiles and automobiles only. In some communities where large bicycle lobbies exist local governments are carving out a lane when possible. This policy has been mostly a failure in Europe. The most successful programs are where the bicycles are separate from the road meaning there is a physical barrier separating from the road. with high usage. You introduce mopeds, motorbikes and bullock carts to current roads - you are almost becoming Bangkok or Beijing.or Bombay! For now we have no choice but to continue this misadventure until technology comes with a solution. Until then I prey that bicyclists & mopedistas stay away from my car which only knows how to follow speed limits.


The roads in SW WI are quite often from horse and buggy days. What's your point?


There's no reason students can't arrange their classes and work schedules to allow more passing time, eliminating the "need" for a scooter. And bicycles work wonders.

However, given the existing scooter culture, perhaps the University should have given a bit more notice so students could plan accordingly.


I'm looking forward to not being behind these kids on their scooters who insist on driving them IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, with tiny toy tires and no ability to control them - also no helmets, of course. They are a hazard.


Sounds like you're describing half of the automobile drivers in winter. How is the mopen more hazardous than a full size car?


I agree with the UW transportation's thinking of trying to limit moped use during school days and all that, they are pretty annoying. But think about it from my perspective for a second. I have class 3 days a week that end at 3:45. I'm in the marching band, so I have to go from wherever those classes are to band practice, which starts at 3:45. So I bought a moped and spent hundreds of dollars of my own money so I could get between band and class on time. And now with this rule, I don't really have $120 to buy one permit, and I need to buy three to be able to have my moped outside of my class on days for band. By the end of the year I will have spent more money on permits than for my moped, and I don't think that's right at all. I don't have a moped because I'm out of shape or lazy, hell I'm in the band, I'm not either of those and these rules are making it impossible for me to be able to do all the things in college that I want to do. Go to class and get an education, and be in the band.

TL;DR I'm in the band and need a moped to get from class and band since they end and begin at the same time 3 times a week. $120 is ridiculous for a permit. FML


Talk about first world problems.


This rule is not about safety. This is about the emissions from scooters. The 49 cc scooter favored by students (since they do not required a motorcycle license), are often 2 cycle engines which have higher emissions that the 4 cycle engines in cars and motorcycles. Even if the engine is a 4-cycle, there are no real emission control devices on scooters. When I first heard of this proposal last fall from a couple of bigwigs at UW Transportation, they were quite upfront about their intention to curtail scooter use on the UW- Madison campus. When I mentioned to them that despite the higher emissions, the typical duty cycle on a scooter is a fraction of that of a commuting automobile or a diesel bus (or a lawn mower for that matter), they really did not want to hear it...This is all about an attempt to remove what they consider a polluting vehicle.


Then they should offer an exemption for electric scooters.


People are acting as if mopeds have been outlawed.

People will still use them bc they will still find it easier than walking.

It's just now they won't endanger people as much.


The UW does not issue free mopeds to anyone, including student athletes. A lot of athletes ride mopeds because it's part of the culture ("Hey, everyone else rides a moped, why don't I get one?). Some athletes use their scholarship stipend intended for food/housing expenses (it's issued in the form a check) for mopeds or other stuff, but a moped not given to them by the university.


Reasons this is a bad policy, disregarding all "In my days" and pedestrian/biker jealousy:

1. It makes mopeds functionally equivalent to cars in use, and this drives users away from mopeds toward cars which can be used year-round and have a wider travel range. Cars are less efficient environmentally, spacewise, and in cost.

2. It discriminates against academic pursuits by giving privileged access to athletic ones. Notice the free spots are at the basketball and football training facilities nearly exclusively? Why does a healthier than average athlete (assumption) need to ride a moped more than any other student other than the fact that the UW hands out mopeds as cheap signing incentives?

3. Part of the reason the bus line was so accessible in prior years is that mopeds siphoned off a portion of users. Winter bus conditions in madison are pretty horrible during class breaks. I've had buses drive past me because they were full and not stopping. Know why? Moped users (and admittedly some bikers) are now on the buses because of the snow. Now that extra stress is on buses all year.

TL;DR Bad policy. It could negatively affect environment, space, student discrimination, and the current ability of our transportation system to function. thanks for reading and considering my points.


You can ride a bike any time of the year when you can ride a scooter. Also, I don't think any of us is jealous of those scooters. I can afford one and would not be caught dead riding one. As to the inevitable person who says they live too far off campus to ride a bike in, ride your scooter in, leave a bike on campus, or use the b-cycles.

The guy who mentions pulling his daughter up by the arm to prevent her from being run over by these reckless army of self-entitled brats pretty much summarizes why this policy is being put into place and isn't going away no matter how much the students whine about it.

I hear there's a big sale on scooters over on craigslist, check it out!


In my day, we had no more than five minutes to walk from one class to another in minus 30 degree temperature against a 20 mile an hour wind BOTH WAYS-and we liked it...


So the university owns 1700 scooters? Doubtful.


I too walked everywhere on campus, even when I lived off-campus, or rode my bike. I had an off-campus job and had to park my piece of junk on the street. That meant walking a few blocks back home sometimes, especially on football saturdays. Oh BTW, I wonder if it's coincidence the moped lots are within a few hundred feet of campus sporting stadiums.


What the article fails to mention is that the vast majority of scooter riders are athletes riding university issued mopeds. They will continue to park wherever they choose.


Mopeds aren't necessary unless you live off-campus, and if you live on-campus you can walk everywhere. It's sometimes faster than taking the bus. It's not that bad.

As far as teachers not being lenient towards students being late, that's a completely separate issue.


missdee091 said - "Been on a city bus recently?"

Yeah. Pretty sweet bus system for a city this size. Your anecdote is meaningless.


3 times this summer I had to lift my daughter of the ground by her arm to keep her from being hit by a scooter. While on the side walk by memorial union. No apologies from the driver or anything.

My idea is that enforcement should entail just slapping a U lock on the front tire. Then the student comes out of class or work to find their motorcycle immovable. They then have to walk their asses to their next destination and discover they can make it. They also have to hike over to campus police to put a deposit on the key to unlock the lock. Then have someone waiting there to issue tickets if the student parks illegally there.

Another issue needing to be tackled is wearing headphones while riding.

Lastly, I bet many students would find it easier to walk from class to class in the allotted time if they put their cell phones away.


Right on. Lots more clueless fools on bicycles on the sidewalks too, I've noticed.


Either these "bropeds" are vehicles, or they're not. Since they travel on roads used by cars and trucks, I guess they are vehicles--which means they should have the same restrictions other student vehicles have. I do know one thing, that most of their owners are terrible drivers and have no business navigating through downtown traffic. They are a hazard to themselves and everyone around them.


How old are you kids on campus? Can't you pedal a bike? I am twice your age, and I pass you daily because you are all out of shape. Also stop parking those things in the bike racks, because I'm going to start pouring piss in the tanks.


It's about time. Finally the city is doing what a city should.


Personally I find mopeds extremely annoying (they're 10x louder than cars) and unnecessary for intra-campus commuting. I went to uw Madison for 5 years and was able to get between opposite ends of the campus in less than the allotted 20 mins on foot. If you can't make it, ride a bike or take the bus.


10x louder than cars? I think you're 400% off base with your 100% made up comparison. I doubt you understand how LOUD 10x a car is...


missdee091. Passing time is 15 minutes on campus, not 10.
Also, busses on the peripheries of campus are super easy to catch back to central campus where it is beyond easy to make it between classes in 15 minutes. I even made the trek by foot, bike or bus from the Nat to Chemistry or further many times in 15 minutes.

So biking to school is out for you? Why?


This is dumb. I understand what they are trying to do, but how can the transportation department at a high rated university be staffed by a bunch of non-thinkers?

Seriously. Treating mopeds like vehicles and requiring moped owners to park in one spot and walk or catch a bus to classes and work? Been on a city bus recently?

The city bus system 20 years ago consisting of letters, not numbers, buses driving and having stops on State Street with every bus meeting on the square was much better than the crap they have now. It seemed back then that buses ran more often, and it was more convienent for students and others who relied on public transportation to get around town. Granted I don't take the bus at all, however this semester I will be taking it more as driving to school would be pointless based on my class schedule.

Last school year, I worked before and after class, having a 30-40 minute drive from work to school and back again. I made this choice, and there were many days I wished I could take a bus to work; unfortunately, my job wasn't on a busline.

Think about the students here. If they have a 10 minute break between classes, how are they supposed to get there? I had a teacher who locked the door 10 minutes after class started. I was late one day due a work scheduling error, and she wasn't pleasant about it.

"My class starts on time. Based on your being late, I can drop you from this class."

"I understand that, however, I was late due to computer error at work, as it had me working longer than was I was supposed to, due to an error."

"I don't care why you were late. There is no reason for that."

"And there is really no reason to get mad at me for something that wasn't my fault. IIf you keep talking to me in a rude tone, which you are using, I will call your boss and explain the situation to him and he will talk to you about acceptance of each student and their situation."

She shut up after that and didn't say anything else to me about being late for class again.

What are students supposed to do if they are late for class or work? By implementing this new policy, the students are the ones being screwed.


Graduated from UW almost 10 years ago. I'd ride my bike/walk every day to class (yes, even in the winter) and then across campus to work. Wasn't late once.


Gosh, how did people manage for decades before the invention of the moped? Get a bike or learn to walk you lazy kids! Most of you need the exercise anyway.

bob roser
bob roser

i agree it's tough to get across campus in 20 min. i ran my tail of for 5 years doing it in the 'old' days.


When scooters are outlawed...


only outlaws will have scooters!

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