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Moped boom causes parking issues for city

BY EMILY HOERNER | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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The many moped riders in town could soon have a greater selection of parking thanks to a city effort to free up overcrowded bike racks.

The City of Iowa City has received complaints from bikers who say too many people are overcrowding bike racks with their mopeds. Now, city officials are looking into adding spots downtown specifically for mopeds and motorcycles.

City officials said they don’t yet have the details of the potential parking spots and haven’t presented any plans to the City Council.

They are working to decide whether to designate one large section of downtown for moped/motorcycle parking or scatter a few spots in different locations.

“We’ve asked ourselves, ‘If we created some more dedicated spots, where would we put them?’ ” said Iowa City transportation planner John Yapp.

Officials also haven’t determined sources of funding or how much the project would cost.Yapp added the city wouldn’t take action until at least the start of the fall semester.

University of Iowa sophomore Megan Cassady — who has had a moped for two weeks — said she often parks at bike racks.

Cassady said she understands why bicyclists might be angry with the recent spike in mopeds on campus because they take up so much space.

“I kind of feel bad [parking at a bike rack],” she said. “But I don’t really have a choice.”

Parking at bike racks is fine on city property, but the UI campus bans it.

The city’s efforts come at a time when the number of mopeds on campus is increasing.
From March 2010 to March 2011, the UI Transportation Department states the number of registered mopeds and motorcycles increased by over 100 — from 1,060 to 1,196.

Jim Sayre, the associate director of the department, said the moped trend has been increasing over the last decade.

And for the two owners of the new moped renting company MopedU — Bryan Ilg and Josh Bass — business is booming.

“The demand just keeps coming,” Bass said.

MopedU put its product on the streets March 18, and its 39 mopeds were rented out in only 11 days. There is now a 25-person waiting list, and Bass said the company is in the process of obtaining more vehicles.

Because of the success, the two plan to expand next year to a campus with a warmer climate to eliminate their off-season, Ilg said.

“We’re just catching the wave,” he said. “Especially with gas prices, and [moped] parking is a breeze.”

However, the “breeze” with which mopeds park has some area bicyclists and city officials concerned.

“We’ve had complaints, more from bicyclists, about mopeds and scooters being parked in the bike racks downtown,” Yapp said.

UI senior Matt Coziahr, who has ridden his bike to campus for the past four years, said the situation has definitely gotten worse.

Coziahr said he is lucky because most of the places he parks his bike — near Schaeffer and Phillips Halls — have a large number of bike racks.

He said he has friends who often have trouble with bike rack parking.

“At some racks, it’s just horrible,” he said.


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