The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Vespas and scooters and bikes, oh my


Just the other day, a woman whizzed by me and the soft breeze danced in her red, curly hair. Accelerating faster than me on my red beach cruiser was a lady on a sleek, sea-green scooter. We rolled southbound on Freeport Boulevard. I was going to class and she was out of sight soon enough.

What a lucky witch, I thought. She didn’t have to worry about pedaling her way uphill, over the light rail tracks, rough terrain and afternoon traffic to make it to campus.

I locked my polished bike frame onto the rack between the Learning Resource Center and the Public Information Office where I counted 17 bicycles, one moped and 10 motorcycles. I noticed a Kawasaki, some Harley Davidsons, Hondas, Suzikis and Yamahas in the vicinity. I was sort of surprised I didn’t find the sea-green Vespa that raced by me just minutes before I located a parking spot.

Scooters are, after all, an alluring, trendy mode of transportation.

Hours before I hopped on my cruiser that day, Sacramentan and self-proclaimed “scooter enthusiast” Darrel Kloss explained to me his affinity with Vespas.

Vespas were popularized by the Mod culture of the 60s, he informed me. According to Kloss, Audrey Hepburn’s adventure on a Vespa in the 1953 film “Roman Holiday” helped expose scooters to popular culture.

Earlier that same day, I watched Hepburn’s adventurous character enjoying herself as she learned how to suddenly maneuver a vehicle. Hepburn stays safe after a man hops onto the Vespa with her, helping her avoid oncoming traffic, pedestrians and eventually causing a ruckus as she collides into stands and attracts the sirens of the “polizia.”

Is this supposed to be cute or annoying? The sexist depiction of a man “helping” a woman irritated me. Hepburn is an elegant classic in my eyes, but scooters aren’t any sexier than they are practical.

The scooter lady on Freeport Boulevard didn’t need a man to help her pass me by. She was just cool enough to do it on her own.

Could scooters, bikes and similar vehicles embody the ideal mode of transportation for City College students?

It seems like scooters are seen more frequently around the city these days—and I’m not the only one who’s taking note.

“I’ve noticed Vespas outside by the bike rack,” says Cheryl Bratton, a barista at the Coffee Garden on Franklin Boulevard.

She says she likes the idea that Vespa and scooter use is increasing in the area.

“I don’t really like cars,” says Bratton. “Vespas use a gas/oil blend and only need to be filled up once a week. They are more efficient and less dangerous.”

Bratton has another reason not to like four-wheeled vehicles: An oncoming car driving 40 mph in midtown hit Bratton on March 6 while she was walking. She recalls “the shock of laying on the ground, hearing people and an ambulance nearby and being frozen, almost, not able to do much but breathe.”

For a few months, Bratton says she couldn’t use the stairs to her apartment due to a broken shoulder, arm and leg. She then stayed with her parents for a few months.

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Not only are scooters safer than cars, Bratton says, they also reduce travel time on a bicycle, are easier to park and get around with.

Vespas are also easier to use, but more expensive than mopeds says Kloss, which require pedaling before an engine starts.

“Newer Vespas are easier to drive because they have a twist and go [feature about them,]” says Kloss. “They definitely provide the ‘feel cool’ factor [of riding a vehicle] because they go faster [than a regular bicycle and save gas.]”

The idea of longevity and a classic look of a Vespa make it one of a kind, says Kloss. The look of a bike got him enraptured,

he says and how cool he feels while scooting down the street.

“Going 45 mph is not that fast, but it’s cooler,” says Kloss. “There’s a little danger to it that makes it sexy because you have to be aware and awake when you’re on a scooter. It’s meditative for me and helps me focus.”

Affordable and stylish, Vespas are just one example of a smart investment while scooters and bikes in general are a safer, environmentally friendly and cheap alternative mode of transportation.

Robert Ferris studies mechanical engineering at City College and says that scooters are a better buy and that Vespas are all about an image.

“More power to anyone who wants to get a scooter or a Vespa,” Ferris says. “The more people who know how to ride two wheels, the safer I know I’m going to be.”

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