Wednesday 17 May 2017

Moped gangs

I'm seeing report after report about "moped gangs". And I'm annoyed.

50 years ago, I used to have a moped, a Mobylette, HUL 294. You can tell how much I loved it from the fact that I still remember the registration number.

It had pedals, a 50cc engine, top speed 30 mph and did about 200 miles per gallon. And the key feature of a moped, is the pedals. A moped has a MOtor and PEDals, hence the name "moped".

To run it, I'd get onto the saddle, and start to pedal. This would turn the engine over, the engine would start, the automatic clutch would engage, and away I'd go. I paid £17 for her, secondhand, from a place that sold mopeds and light motorbikes, and learned to ride on the way home. I had a learner's licence, and the insurance was a very tiny amount. I wore a crash helmet even though that wasn't compulsory at the time, and leather gloves, because if you came off a moped, your hands would suffer.

When I went up to Cambridge, I bought and rode a bicycle, but there's a nasty hill between Fitzwilliam and the town center, and I wanted my moped. But you were not allowed a motor vehicle, because if gownies had had cars, the traffic in Cambridge would have been dreadful. But there was an exception - if you were the president of a sporting club, you were allowed a car.

So I set up the Fitzwilliam Bridge Club, and as I was the only member, I was also the president. I successfully persuaded the Motor Proctor that I qualified under the exception, so I was allowed to ride my moped around Cambridge.

So let me explain why I'm annoyed. These so-called "moped gangs" aren't riding mopeds. They are riding motor bikes and motor scooters. They aren't riding moped, because they don't have pedals. They are "motorbike gangs".

Today, I ride an electric bicycle, and that has taken me full circle, because an electric bike is just like a moped, but not so fast and with less range.

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