Mo-ped popularity grows on campus

Football players helped spark the trend by driving around campus.

by Lora Pabst

A 6-foot-6-inch, 270-pound tight end balancing on a metallic blue mo-ped might draw a few laughs around campus.

But Matt Spaeth, a junior football player, doesn’t mind if students make fun of him and his teammates for cruising around on mo-peds.

In the past few years, mo-peds and scooters have become increasingly popular among students. Football players helped spark this trend by driving around campus in packs.

“A few (football players) had them three or four years ago,” Spaeth said. “In the last year, people started getting them like crazy.”

Dom Barber, a sophomore football player, said it started with a few players getting mo-peds.

“Now it’s like a mo-ped parking lot outside (Bierman Athletic Building),” he said.

Mo-peds offer a cheap, convenient way to get around campus. Barber said it costs him $2 a week to fill up his tank.

For student-athletes, who balance hectic class and practice schedules, mo-peds make travel a lot faster.

“If you have class at 11:15 a.m., you can get up at 11:05 a.m. and still be on time,” Barber said.

But there can be some disadvantages to riding mo-peds on campus.

“The big disadvantage is it seems like the police are on our case,” Barber said. “A lot of officers know we’re athletes.”

Mo-ped drivers can get parking tickets too. Tickets for parking on bike racks are $33, Barber said.

Mo-ped drivers are also required to wear protective eyewear, but not helmets. Sunglasses can be considered protective eyewear under this rule, which is why so many football players wear sunglasses while riding their mo-peds, Barber said.

While operating a mo-ped is considerably less expensive than operating a car, the initial cost for one of these vehicles can still run into the thousands of dollars.

Barber bought his mo-ped from fellow football player Marcel Jones’ dad. Randy Jones owns R&R Scooters in Shakopee.

“(Marcel) has one down there, so a lot of the players ask where he got his from,” Randy Jones said.

He said he has sold about 15 mo-peds to University students, both athletes and nonathletes. R&R Scooters offered a discount this fall for any college student.

“It’s a good option for kids these days,” Jones said. “There is no place really to park cars.”

Athletics director Joel Maturi said the mo-peds were not provided by the athletics department or any booster club.

“That would be a violation,” he said. “Any reduction in price would be a violation.”

The exception to this rule is if a discount was offered to everyone, not just student-athletes, Maturi said. This is the case with the R&R Scooters discount.

“(Student-athletes) have to purchase them like any other student,” Maturi said.

For Barber, this meant spending about $1,600 for his mo-ped this fall. And he’s not even going to use it this winter.

“I really don’t trust myself in the snow,” he said.

Spaeth said about 30 guys on the football team have mo-peds.

“We get made fun of ’cause people see two big guys on a mo-ped, but we don’t care ’cause we’re getting where we need to go,” he said. “They’re walking and we’re riding.”