Putting police officers on bicycles is actually a very old idea that has made a strong come back in the past decade. Bicycle patrols were started by the New York Police Department over 100 years ago in an attempt to find a less expensive alternative to the mounted horse patrol. Bicycles were less expensive than vehicles and did not have the high maintenance cost of horses. Eventually these patrols were replaced with motorized vehicles. Over the past decades, the use of Bicycle Patrols has seen a phenomenal resurgence because of the increased effectiveness of their use in highly populated areas.
Putting a police officer on a bicycle has many advantages and makes the officer more approachable to the public without the car doors and windows forming a barrier between the officer and citizen, allowing for more informal interactions. This approachability augments the Police Department’s commitment to community policing, working in partnership with the community we serve. The bicycle also attracts children to officers, which creates a learning situation for safe riding discussions.
To be qualified for the bicycle unit, an officer must attend an intensive four-day training class. During this training, the officer is taught advanced riding skills, defensive and offensive riding strategies, and general bicycle maintenance. Officers assigned to this unit must be in excellent physical condition.