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Police On Bikes

 
Wayne Pein, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
It's been a 100 years since bicycles ruled the roads, and we now live in a fast-paced society where motorists want to zoom at 50 mph to every red light. So it might seem quite strange for a community to put some policemen back on bicycles. wpe21.jpg (11498 bytes)

However, an officer in a patrol car is highly visible, he can't easily scout back alleyways, parking lots, parks, crowds, and other high-crime areas, and he has difficulty pursuing criminals who don't use a motor vehicle to escape.

But unencumbered mobility is just one of the many advantages of police on bikes. This mobility, combined with quietness and small size allows for surprise apprehension of unwary criminals. Bikes are the bane of drug dealers.

They allow police greater contact with citizens than patrol cars and have a much greater range than strictly foot patrols. Thus, bicycle patrol units are an excellent match with community-based policing protocols. Residents and business folk love them.

Bicycle officers get some serious on-the-job exercise. Is there any doubt that exercise is the closest thing to the fountain of youth? The "quad squad" officers are lean mean crime bustin' machines. They're also hungrier than average, which bodes well for downtown eateries.

A bicycle is significantly less expensive than a car cruiser. This translates to more officers on the beat, more bang for the buck, and happy town and police department administrators, as well as citizen taxpayers.

Cycle cops are also ideal for enforcing traffic laws for bicyclists to protect us from ourselves. A heavy hand isn't always needed though. Probably just as effective for most infractions is a simple explanation that bicyclists are required to follow traffic rules like other vehicle operators and doing so is a lot safer than not. Educational intervention at the point source.

Pedal pushing police can also enforce speed limit and traffic control laws for motorist violators, making the roads safer for everyone. How's that for a snazzy way to raise motorists' awareness that bicycles are legitimate road vehicles?

Police-on-bikes visibly advertise bicycles as ideal urban vehicles. If bicycles can function as instruments of the law, then surely they can handle trips to the store and elsewhere.

If your city or town doesn't yet have a police bicycle unit, get working on it. The advantages to bicyclists are great, and it's a crank in the right direction toward a cycle friendly community.

 

 

By
Wayne Pein

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08/16/11
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