Following a closed-session meeting of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, the university has dramatically changed its scooter regulations. However, some scooter owners have criticized the transparency of the decision, and argue it doesn’t go far enough in encouraging students and faculty to ride the fuel-efficient vehicles. (See the June 24, 2009 Indy story, “Scooter outrage could change UNC policy.”)
The old policy would have charged between $174 and $371 for a scooter permit, depending on whether the owner is an employee, faculty member or a student. Following the Board of Trustee’s decision, UNC will charge a flat fee of $24 for all scooter permits next year, and appears willing to find secure parking spots for scooters on campus.
Steven Gordon was one of the dozen scooter owners who showed up at the Carolina Inn on Wednesday night, while the Board discussed the scooter policy change behind closed doors. Though they were not allowed inside, Gordon and others spoke afterward with Chancellor Holden Thorp.
Thorp explained the policy change to the owners, and assured them that there would be enough parking on campus for scooters. Thorp provided a map of possible parking spots for motorcycles and scooters, though Gordon called the map "outdated” and criticized UNC for not involving scooter owners in the decision.
“It’s just interesting how if this is the typical way they deal with policy at UNC, maybe it’s not intentional, but they sneak things through with a minimum amount of public input,” Gordon said. “As far as we know, no scooter rider in the community was contacted before this was voted on.”
However, at a separate meeting Thursday morning, board members invited scooter owner Brian Moynihan to speak on behalf of the community. Moynihan laid out four policy demands: a fixed fee of $24 (the price could raise as early as next year, as the new policy is currently written), an increased number of scooter parking spaces, the ability for scooters to park at bike racks, and the notification of scooter owners before the board makes any further changes.
While there was no change in the final ordinance, Moynihan said he still felt progress had been made.
“Overall, it was positive,” he said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we did get lasting recognition that we’re here and have concerns, and that we need to be involved in the process in the long term.”