Tech to define new bike, moped policies

With record enrollment, the increase in students on campus can be experienced firsthand with the increase in people walking along Skiles and the corresponding increase in cyclists trying to ride to class. Tech has also seen an increase in the number of students using mopeds to get around campus.

“[Mopeds are] not really special; they just don’t have a set of specific governing laws,” said Crime Prevention Officer Ian Mayberry in a comment about the moped’s legal status.

A moped, or scooter, is a gasoline-powered vehicle that resembles a small motorcycle. Mopeds with engines that have less than 49cc of displacement do not need to be registered as motor vehicles.

When traveling on public roads, Officer Mayberry said riders of mopeds and bicycles are required to follow “the exact same laws that you would have to follow if you were driving a car down the road.” As with bicycles, mopeds must follow these rules to avoid both traffic accidents and citations for moving violations.

Mayberry also explained that there are some particular situations where cyclists may be at an increased risk for a potential accident.

“When a person has been operating their vehicle on the sidewalk and [then transitions] to the roadway, [many accidents occur],” Mayberry said.

He further explained that riders of bicycles and mopeds could compromise overall safety by avoiding stop signs, red lights and failing to follow right-of-way guidelines.

The storage of mopeds has also been an issue, and appropriate storage on campus can be hard to find.

“Anything that has gasoline in [its tank] is not appropriate to be stored in a bike room or bike cage,” said Dan Morrison, director of Residence Life. Across campus, owners of mopeds have found creative places to park.

The ability to link a moped to its owner presents challenges for both the Housing and Parking departments. “Some [serial numbers] are in places that we do not want our officers to go after…we don’t want our guys to lift the seat or move the handlebars,” said Carlton Morgan, operations manager for Parking and Transportation.

Even if the serial number is visible, Parking would only be able to search for mopeds that had been registered.

Parking and the police have different views on some aspects of motorcycle parking. Currently, Parking is focused on the storage of the mopeds in safe and appropriate locations, while the police are focused on maintaining a safe environment for students on campus. Aware of the growing popularity of mopeds, the two departments met Wednesday to collaborate and create a unified policy.

“By a strict law sense…they are required to be on the roadways,” Mayberry said, with respect to both bikes and mopeds. However, in the absence of reported pedestrian-bike collisions, the police have not been focusing on enforcement.

Whether a moped is over 49cc or not, owners are encouraged to register it with the GTPD. “The only reason we would use [owner information] is if we have recovered something,” Mayberry said, explaining that the system is used to benefit the owners.

For Parking, their goal is to have mopeds registered as vehicles and parking alongside motorcycles. “We need a license plate to issue a citation,” Morgan said, stating that current registration requirements for mopeds fall short of Parking’s needs.

Moped owners wishing to park on campus can currently register their vehicles as motorcycles.

“[Parking will] seek out other parking locations.… [Mopeds] will not be attached to bike racks or signs,” Morgan said.

Parking is not opposed to moped use by the campus community. “[Mopeds] are something the campus needs to deal with, because they are a good alternative,” Morrison said.