University football player hit by car while riding mo-ped

An unidentified car struck a Gophers football player Friday morning as he drove his mo-ped on Washington Avenue.

Nedward Tavale, 21, sustained minor scrapes on his leg and arm, as well as a black eye.

Tavale, a communications junior, was driving westbound in the right lane of Washington Avenue at 11:30 a.m.

A car was waiting to make a left turn onto Harvard Street and the car behind it moved into the next lane and hit Tavale.

“Right when he or she pulled out, I put the brakes on,” Tavale said. “I knew I was going to fall.”

The vehicle’s driver didn’t stop. Tavale remembers the vehicle being purple and having Wisconsin license plates, but nothing else, he said.

It’s unclear whether the vehicle’s driver knew he or she hit Tavale.

“It’d be pretty hard for him or her not to know that they hit me, but I honestly don’t know,” said Tavale, who’s listed on the Gophers athletics Web site as 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 320 pounds.

He said the accident makes him more wary of driving his mo-ped.

“It is dangerous driving a mo-ped. You’re more exposed than if you were driving a car,” he said. “Now I’ll be driving half the speed limit.”

University police Lt. Troy Buhta said about four or five mo-ped accidents happen on campus each year.

Both Buhta and St. Paul police Cmdr. Neil Nelson expect a rise in moped ownership on campus and in the Twin Cities because of rising gas prices, but they aren’t concerned about an increase in accidents.

Minnesota took steps to ensure the safety of mo-ped drivers with a state statute regarding motorized bicycles that went into effect in 2007.

According to the statute, all motorized bicycle operators must have a helmet on at all times. It also states that motorized bicycles can not impede on normal traffic and must ride within a single lane.

Tavale said he wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of his accident, and now regrets it.

The University is also taking measures to ensure the safety of moped drivers on campus.

University Parking and Transportation Services is currently drafting a mo-ped policy, PTS spokeswoman Mary Sienko said.

In the meantime, Nelson recommends mo-ped drivers wear helmets, use their headlights and turn signals and drive mo-peds like they would a motorcycle.

“Drivers don’t see small things like a motorcycle or mo-ped very well, so you’re the one that has to be a safe driver and assume people don’t see you,” he said.