East Lansing’s City Council voted 4-1 this week to adopt a new parking law requiring moped users to either buy a parking permit in advance and park in specially-designated garage zones or park in a car spot and pay the same rate as cars. Parking at public bike racks is now against the law for mopeds throughout East Lansing.
At the Jan. 11 meeting, Council member George Brookover cast the lone “no” vote and also raised concerns about electronic scooters continuing to be left where they are blocking sidewalks.
Before the vote on moped parking, East Lansing Parking Administrator Caleb Sharrow explained to Council that the impetus for the new moped law is to try to stop moped users from “ripping down a sidewalk to get to a bike loop.”
Sharrow said he had heard from business owners and pedestrians that they are tired of having moped users driving along the sidewalk and blocking businesses downtown. Bicycle users have also complained about mopeds taking up bike parking spaces.
The new law is valid throughout the City of East Lansing and it effectively gives moped users two options in terms of public parking.
One option is to park like a car, in a car spot, and pay the same costs as car drivers. If a public car-parking space is free, moped users can take that spot without cost. If the spot is limited to two-hours, the same limitations would apply to mopeds. If a car parking spot requires feeding a meter or paying a garage-use fee, the moped user can use those spots by paying the same rate as car drivers would.
Alternatively, a moped user can buy a parking permit from the City at the cost of $60 for 6 months. Permits will cover either January-June or July-December. These permits will allow moped users to park without further cost in specially designated “moped parking areas” in the City’s Albert Avenue ramp, the Grove Street ramp, and the Division Street ramp.
Violations of the new law may result in a $35 ticket.
During the discussion, Brookover told the City Manager that come spring, when he gets his Vespa out of storage, “I guess I need another one of those City Council parking things,” making a reference to the free parking passes the City Manager directs staff to give to all Council members for City-owned parking facilities.
Prior to the vote, Brookover had several questions about how the law would work for Vespa owners like him. His questions were answered, and when asked by ELi yesterday why he voted no, he declined to provide an explanation other than saying, “My vote speaks for itself in the context of the discussion on the Motion.”
Before voting yes, Council member Dana Watson asked that moped owners in the first few weeks be given warnings rather than tickets, and Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg asked that bike racks include notices about the new moped parking law.
During the discussion on mopeds, Brookover raised a concern about e-scooters being left on sidewalks, including outside his law office on Abbot Road.
In response, Sharrow explained that e-scooters are supposed to be parked in specially-designated and marked “landing zones” or otherwise parked in a fashion that keeps sidewalks clear.
City Manager George Lahanas said that his staff had had a meeting with e-scooter vendor Spin to talk about the issue of parking.
“They had agreed that they would do a better job” of collecting the scooters promptly, to clear them off sidewalks, Lahanas told Council. Lahanas also said that Spin can penalize users who park improperly.
Lahanas also told Council that Spin has failed to hand over to the City the data the City requires of companies licensed to rent scooters in the City. He said that the City Attorney has now sent Spin a letter demanding the data.
As Jessy Gregg reported when she worked for ELi in 2019, before running for Council, “the City now requires companies to report their user data to the City’s government, including trip volumes, distances, routes, and the starting and stopping points for each trip.”
Lahanas also told Council that he had met with representatives of ASMSU – the undergraduate student government of MSU – and that they helped him understand that students enjoy having micro-mobility options like rental scooters.
“I try to keep that in mind,” he said, as he works on scooter management.
He indicated that his staff would continue to convey concerns to Spin.
Update, Jan. 14, 2022: In response to a question about why moped drivers wouldn’t just go around the barriers at the parking garages, Quinn Alexander, Communications Specialist for the City, explained: “After someone purchases a moped permit, they are given a decal that they attach to the moped fender. Moped drivers can then drive up to the gate arm and it can be opened by a Parking Ambassador from the control center. Also, the entry/exits are overseen by cameras and moped permit parking areas are overseen by Parking and PACE staff.”