Mopeds join the drive to beat crime
EVEN when I was a kid and not old enough to ride or drive anything on the road except a bike, there was another type of two-wheeler which was looked down on in disgust by all young people. Everyone dreamed of owning a car – a Mini or, better still, a Mini
EVEN when I was a kid and not old enough to ride or drive anything on the road except a bike, there was another type of two-wheeler which was looked down on in disgust by all young people.
Everyone dreamed of owning a car - a Mini or, better still, a Mini Cooper S was the number one choice although a Ford Popular would have done at a pinch - but in reality there were very few 17-year-olds who could afford to buy one.
One's own four wheeled transport was not likely to materialise until one reached the ripe old age of 20 or 21.
So as people turned 16 their thoughts were firmly fixed on getting around on two wheels with a motor between them.
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If you were a Mod the choice was obvious - a scooter. They were affordable and, legend had it, were guaranteed girl-pullers although in practice there was no certainty about that at all.
The only dilemma was which make to go for - some preferred the Vespa which looked like it had a large metal boil on each side while others, myself included, would only have the much sleeker styled Lambretta.
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But if you were a Rocker, it had to be a roaring motorcycle, shiny and bright but with the merest smear of oil on the engine.
Whichever camp you fell into, both sides agreed that they would never be seen on mopeds which were for freaks and old men.
In those days, the moped was a sad excuse of a machine, a cross between a push bike and a motorcycle which looked like it would fall apart if it ever reached 20mph.
This strange contraption had pedals which the rider was advised to turn rapidly whenever it approached anything resembling an upward incline.
If you had not got a good long run up at a steep hill, it was necessary to get off and walk pushing the awkward, heavy machine with difficulty.
No one aspired to own a moped. The reputation of this loathsome beast was not improved when it was singled out for a merciless ribbing by one of the funniest men on the planet, Jasper Carrott, whose first record in 1975 was the memorable Funky Moped.
All this came back to me this week when I received a press release from Hertfordshire Police.
They are all excited about the latest addition to their formidable array of resources used in the fight against crime.
They have cars which, if necessary of course, can outpace nearly everything else on the road.
Rural bobbies have 4x4s which can get them anywhere. At the other end of the scale, some even have mountain bikes which are cool.
But not so what they have just unveiled.
Hertfordshire now has its first police moped. It is in Harpenden but one supposes that more could appear elsewhere in the county if they catch on.
According to the police, the moped "has already attracted a lot of attention".
That would be from people sniggering behind their hands, I reckon.