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Making the case for getting the police on bicycles

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  • Simon Baddeley
    Thought people might be interested in thoughts I ve put together with the help of postings from Urban-Cyclist on why we think our local police ought to have
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 2, 2001
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      Thought people might be interested in thoughts I've put together with the
      help of postings from Urban-Cyclist on why we think our local police ought
      to have bicycles:

      Keeping our streets and public spaces free of crime and the fear of crime is
      vital to urban regeneration. Indeed community safety including the safety of
      Handsworth Park (my local park) is widely agreed within the SRB4 area to be
      a priority. For this reason the Committee and members of the Handsworth Park
      Association would support a proposal for SRB4 expenditure on the purchase of
      bicycles by the police.

      We believe the use by the police of high quality specialist bicycle,
      supported by good training in their use for law enforcement - would help
      achieve greater community safety for the following reasons:

      1. It is increasingly recognised by traffic experts, by commercial cycle
      couriers and by cycling organisations, that in an urban setting, suffering
      from growing road traffic congestion, a high quality modern bicycle in the
      hands of a skilled rider can compete with, and frequently, exceed cars for
      mobility and access. Indeed, we understand that in many cases police on
      bicycles are even able to deal with road traffic offences involving cars in
      just as effective a way and perhaps on occasion more effectively than if
      they were in patrol cars.

      2. In addition there is a growing awareness that reliance on high-speed
      patrol cars to apprehend suspects is not always the most appropriate or even
      the most effective way to catch criminals in an urban setting. Danger to
      innocent bystanders may be out of proportion to the potential law
      enforcement results, and a car - however fast - may be unable to access the
      escape routes available to suspected criminals. Furthermore the relative
      costs of bicycles - given their effectiveness as a means of enhancing
      community safety - alongside the cost of motor vehicles adds to the
      attractiveness of this proposal.

      3. The great value of having police officers on bicycles is that it
      increases their visibility and access to the public. It is easier to stop
      and communicate from a bicycle. It is simpler and safer to lock a bike or
      carry it indoors to inspect premises and talk to owners and others at a
      crime scene and other settings where the police deal with the public.

      4. Bicycles can reach the places that require a police presence but which
      cannot be accessed by cars - towpaths, house backs, green lanes, pedestrian
      walkways (including subways) and of course public parks and playing fields
      where although police in cars may enter in hot pursuit (if they have keys)
      they may be less welcome routine patrol among pedestrians and other
      cyclists.

      5. Cycle riding police officers may be especially welcome where a "soft"
      approach is required in the policing of public events whether political
      demonstrations such as marches or large gatherings such as Carnival or
      Vaisaki or our own annual "Classroom in the Park".

      6. Police on bicycles are often in a better position to enforce the law
      where it is broken by cyclists riding irresponsibly and endangering the
      public or damaging the environment as in the case of cyclists on pavements
      or riding across flowerbeds.

      7. Police credibility in this latter area will be increased in that in their
      dealings with cyclists they are seen as being in a position to understand
      road conditions from a cyclist's perspective. They are thus in a better
      position to understand the views of cyclists reporting incidents where they
      have been endangered by the behaviour of other road users.

      8. Police on bicycles may also be in a far better position to catch people
      committing criminal acts such as drug dealing or assault where criminals may
      use bicycles to approach victims and make their escape. This applies to
      apprehending people who steal people's bicycles - often the heartbreaking
      experience of a youngster who has just been given a bicycle, perhaps for the
      first time, as a gift.

      9. Police using bicycles will have more opportunity to note and inspect
      features of their surroundings that may help them to advise on crime
      reduction measures, and on their bicycles they can assist in cycle crime
      prevention drives at local schools and shopping areas.

      10. Police trained in the use of high quality bicycles can also provide an
      adult role model for young people who - in a world where car travel is
      proliferating causing obesity and increased road traffic risk - may be
      tempted to consider healthier and more stimulating ways of achieving
      mobility. A valuable side effect of having more police officers on bicycles
      is the known health benefits of cycling for the officers themselves.


      The police officer on a bicycle should no longer be seen as a PR exercise -
      important though that may be. We note that Strathclyde Constabulary have
      recently reported favourable results from establishing a force of 'bicycle
      policemen'. It is suggested that this project has been the more successful
      because the Chief Constable gave officers extra internal standing by
      declaring them 'vehicular officers' like the pandas, rather than beat
      officers on bikes. The choice of suitable uniforms is also important, as is
      high quality specialised training in cycle-craft. In this respect the
      contents of the International Police Mountain Bike Association website
      (<http://www.ipmba.org/>) shows a growing body of interprofessional
      information exchange on the valuable role of bicycles in law enforcement.

      SRB4 funding would be well invested if it assists local police to take
      advantage of best practice in this area and we are keen to endorse this
      initiative in Handsworth and adjoining areas.

      Simon Baddeley
      Committee Member, Handsworth Park Association
      34 Beaudesert Road
      Handsworth
      Birmingham B15 2TT
      0121 554 9794
      07775 655842
    • Richard Risemberg
      ... In Los Angeles the police bicycle squad is continuously growing, as, all otehr factors aside, the department has discovered that the bicycle cops simply
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 2, 2001
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        Simon Baddeley wrote:
        >
        > Thought people might be interested in thoughts I've put together with the
        > help of postings from Urban-Cyclist on why we think our local police ought
        > to have bicycles:

        In Los Angeles the police bicycle squad is continuously growing, as, all
        otehr factors aside, the department has discovered that the bicycle cops
        simply catch more crooks per hour than the motorized ones.

        Of course, there's a multitude of other benefits, as Simon's post
        nnoted, but this is one that will sell the concept.

        Richard

        --
        Richard Risemberg
        http://www.living-room.org
        http://www.newcolonist.com

        "There is more to life than increasing its speed."
        M. K. Gandhi
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