Mopeds and scooters to be banned from Iowa City bicycle racks


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Iowa City scooter and moped motorists will be slapped with fines if they try to park in bicycle racks in 2012.

A new city ordinance, set to go into effect Jan. 3, will outlaw moped and scooter parking in Iowa City bicycle racks. City officials said that because of the cold winter months, it is unlikely they will issue tickets immediately.

"We'll have an extended period where we'll issue warnings," said Chris O'Brien, the Iowa City director of transportation services. "… It'll be a prohibited parking area at that point."

Roughly 142 moped/scooter stalls are available on city property for parking in anticipation of the coming ordinance, O'Brien said. The parking spaces were designated in late fall 2011.

"Because of the large number of mopeds and scooters downtown, we had some safety concerns," he said. "Most of the bike racks are located in high-pedestrian areas."

City officials are still waiting for signs to be completed for the spaces, O'Brien said.

"The parking spaces will be in convenient locations," he said. "I anticipate it will be a relatively smooth transition."

To inform motorists of the new ordinance, O'Brien said, maps depicting the new permit parking locations will be made available at Parking Services, 335 Iowa Ave.

He said officers will issue $15 citations for bike-rack parking, after a grace period of issuing warnings, which is expected to last into the spring.

However, the new ordinance may cost people.

O'Brien said an unlimited number of $45 city permits will be available to park in the designated lots.

This permit will not cover UI parking requirements.

"We issue permits," said Dave Ricketts, UI director of Parking and Transportation. "In order for people to park motorcycles or mopeds in a university motorcycle lot, they must buy permits for $8 a month." However, he said, "in a cashiered facility, you can park there and pay upon exiting."

The University of Iowa forbids motorcycle and moped drivers from parking in bicycle racks on campus property. 

"There was some confusion because the city did not have the same rules," Ricketts said.

He said he thinks the new ordinance will cut down on some motorist confusion.

Ricketts noted that most students who drive mopeds and scooters on campus purchase a nine-month parking permit for $72.

Bryan Ilg, the founder of MopedU, said he does not believe the new ordinance will affect moped rentals.

"The city parking is really nice right now," he said. "… We do still provide university parking passes."

And Ilg said MopedU will also work with the city to inform its customers about the new ordinance.

Currently, the UI also issues $15 parking violations for parking in bicycle racks.

"Every fall, there are new people who don't know," Ricketts said. "So there's a little education about it in the fall. Once you get past the first few weeks of school, we don't see it very often."

Though city and university policies are now closely aligned, Ricketts said the UI did not have direct input on the decision to enact the new ordinance. But he said he understands the reasons behind the regulation.

"It's like parking your car on the grass," he said. "It just doesn't belong there." 

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