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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vespas ring in New Year

Vespas ring in New Year

Children on bicycles and tourists on foot stopped and stared at the troupe of buzzing Vespa motorbikes that gleamed under the afternoon sun.

The colours, set against the brown of the Independence Monument, stood out.

Beige, black, army green, orange, cherry red, all-white, sky and royal blue.

About 40 owners of the Italian-made brand came yesterday, on the first day of 2013, to ride in support of diversity and road safety.

Amassed at the southwest corner of Norodom and Sihanouk boulevards, the bikes formed a phalanx, while organisers passed out flags from dozens of countries.

Most wore helmets as a way of encouraging others on the road to drive safely and take the necessary precautions.

“The [death and injury] rate hasn’t gone down significantly since last year,” said Tong Soprach, member of the city’s Vespa Club and Post social affairs columnist.

“Nearly 2,000 people died [in traffic accidents], and more than 4,000 had serious injuries. That’s why we feel sad and disappointed.”

But the atmosphere of the event was more celebratory than sombre, and welcoming of non-Vespa owners.

After everyone had arrived and was ready to roll, the street corner filled with the sounds of engines revving. A few warm-up laps around the Independence Monument, and the bikers were off.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Freeman at
Khouth Sophak Chakrya at




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