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Old 03-30-05, 05:20 PM   #1
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Are bike cops really as clueless about vehicular cycling as I have been led to believe?
Would more cops on bikes in my city be a good thing for cycling in my city, in general?

This article mentions that they are gonna increase numbers of bike cops in some areas that I ride
on a daily basis... and I'm just a little bit apprehensive.

Police to take different tack
Numbers to rise in downtown Durham

By SAMIHA KHANNA, Staff Writer

DURHAM -- Durham police will soon change the way they fight crime downtown, introducing more officers on bicycles and boosting officer presence during peak hours. The changes come in response to a steady climb in downtown development and entertainment, Durham police Capt. Ron Evans said.

The plan is to move some existing officers from cars to bikes and to change their current schedule to correspond to downtown's busiest times, Evans said. About a month from now, residents can expect to see a boost from the current minimum of two bike officers downtown to six officers during the morning and evening rush hours, the busy lunch hour and weekend nights.

The Police Department has used bike patrols for more than 10 years, largely in the city's public housing complexes and areas of downtown. Bikes bring police closer to the public, Evans said.

"We need to be visible and accessible, and bike and foot patrols are well suited to do that," Evans said.

On a given afternoon in downtown Durham, there are typically two to three officers on bikes and the same number in cars, Evans said. With the changes, officers in cars will continue to drive the downtown area, which stretches along Main Street from Alston Avenue to Rutherford Street. Officers on bikes will concentrate on downtown's hubs, specifically the American Tobacco complex, Ninth Street and Brightleaf Square, Evans said.

The cost of training and equipping the new bike officers is minimal, Evans said.

[edited to end]
From March 29 News and Observer www.newsobserver.com


What are your experiences with bike cops?
Are there any bike cops on these forums?

(as you can tell, our downtown is pretty small)
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Old 03-30-05, 05:34 PM   #2
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Never seen a cyclist cop, but plenty of cops on bikes.
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Old 03-30-05, 05:37 PM   #3
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I don't understand your concerns. The purpose of bike cops is not necessarily to concentrate on cyclists. Cops are using bikes for the same reason that messengers use them. They can often respond more quickly to incidents than automobile based cops. They are also very visible to the public, like a cop on foot, but with greater potential speed.

Cops on bikes may also increase the public awareness of bicycles as something other than toys and as valid transportation alternatives. In addition, a cop on a bike will see traffic from the cyclist's perspective. All these are positive for cyclists.

I would welcome bike cops in my town.
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Old 03-30-05, 05:43 PM   #4
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I guess my concerns are whether it really works, or if it's just a PR thing - not concerned about tickets!

I have this worry that the bike cops are just there to be seen, and will be tooling around on the sidewalks in public areas.

I just don't know what to expect. I've never seen bike cops around here, even though we apparantly have a few.

I'm hoping for the positive effects you mention, supcom, believe me! I'm just naturally skeptical. And pessimistic.

Last edited by * jack *; 04-13-05 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 03-30-05, 05:50 PM   #5
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Just thank god they are not tooling around on seques!! The "universal people mover" [except if you live in a rainy/snowy climate and 100% of your city is not paved].

Next time i see a cop on a seque i'm gonna flip him off and take off on a dirt path and watch him fall off from my mirror!
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Old 03-30-05, 06:14 PM   #6
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Seques? You mean segway?
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Old 03-30-05, 06:16 PM   #7
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yes---

sorry--fast/poor typer and also a musician, thus "segue"--I still hate cops on them, however they are spelled
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Old 03-30-05, 06:28 PM   #8
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Cops on bikes are usually exempted by law from many of the vehicle regs that civilian cyclists are required to follow, such as prohibitions on sidewalk riding, etc.
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Old 03-30-05, 06:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by * jack *
I guess my concerns are whether it really works, or if it's just a PR thing - not tickets for running stopsigns!

I have this worry that the bike cops are just there to be seen, and will be tooling around on the sidewalks in public areas.

I just don't know what to expect. I've never seen bike cops around here, even though we apparantly have a few.

I'm hoping for the positive effects you mention, supcom, believe me! I'm just naturally skeptical. And pessimistic.
The main purpose of the bike cops is not traffic duty. They provide good police presence and mobility in dense urban environments. You generally see them in areas where there are a lot of people walking about enjoying restaurants, nightclubs, theaters, etc. They are also used a lot in areas where police cars cannot easily access like multi-use trails in parks. The bike is just a mobility tool that allows the cop to move quickly without having to park a car and possibly tie up traffic.
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Old 03-30-05, 08:13 PM   #10
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It is funny to watch a bike cop try to catch a rider with a road bike with his overloaded MTB. Really funny listening to him explain to his sargent why he had to call a backup motor or crusier unit to catch another bike.
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Old 03-30-05, 08:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudobrit
Never seen a cyclist cop, but plenty of cops on bikes.
I got arrested last summer during the pre-RNC CM and the cop who put me through the metal detector was a cyclist. I tried to warn him tha my cleats were gonna set of the detector & he & I talked about cycling in the Bronx in van Cortland park. So there's one, in NYC.
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Old 03-30-05, 09:33 PM   #12
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I do see "bike cops" take the sidewalk most of the time, but as one poster mentioned, their purpose is pedestrian-oriented.

One dark morning on my way to work (I was walking from the train station,) a "bike cop" passed by on the road. Problem was, he had no lights.

I approached him as he waited under the lighted canopy of a corner gas station. I started to mention the importance of lights to him (in a very friendly manner, since I love seeing anyone on a bicycle,) when I noticed he, in fact, did have lights mounted.
He told me with a friendly smile, "I have lights, I just don't like to use them."



I do hope he knows what he's doing, such a nice young man...
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Old 03-30-05, 09:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by * jack *
What are your experiences with bike cops?
- - My experience is they really like their bikes and they like to talk about cycling. I would like to see more of bike cops because their presence helps condition the public to seeing the bicycle as a useful transportation vehicle.
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Old 03-30-05, 10:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
He told me with a friendly smile, "I have lights, I just don't like to use them."
Some of the local bike cops told us at a bike club meeting about how they sometimes ride at night without lights so that they can sneak up on suspects. This activity almost always occurs off the road proper (parking lots seem to be a favorite location). The bike cops that I've had a chat with have been, if anything, even less comfortable with the idea of cycling in traffic than most civilians I've talked to.
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Old 03-30-05, 11:19 PM   #15
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In general, they are pretty decent bikers. They tend to be sidewalk riders though, with exception to one cop pulling over a car via bike (that had to be the largest demonstration of brass ones I have ever seen, even though the car was going 20mph...point still stands).

Really they aren't supercops or anything like that, they don't target cyclists, they are just regular cops, on a bike. Think horse cops, but without the poo and hooves.
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Old 03-31-05, 03:13 AM   #16
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The City of Thousand Oaks ranks either number 1, or is behind Simi Valley, CA as number two, each year, for the safest city in America with a population over 100 thousand. They don't even have their own police force, but contract from Ventura County Sheriffs. They use bike cops in certain areas, and it's a welcome presence. Not because there is crime, but because their presence deters petty crime. Beverly Hills PD also has mounted cops, as does Las Vegas. I think they're a good thing. Wasn't there a terrible TV show about them several years ago? Baywatch on bikes or something?
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Old 03-31-05, 06:31 AM   #17
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I saw a bicycle cop last night. For some reason he was watching some car on his side of the street, but as he was watching he aimlessly drifted from the right side of the street to the left side or my right side. Further, he didn't have lights. When I first saw him, I thought, perhaps it is a rent-a-cop. But when I passed him, it did appear that it was a real cop. Maybe they want to be in stealth mode so that they can sneak up on the bad guys. I wouldn't mind seeing more bike cops around here, but it would also be nice if they rode in a somewhat predictable manner. They really don't ride any more recklessly than some other bicycle riders. But I don't remember one incident of a bike cop riding in a lawful/vehicular manner. In the downtown area here, lawful does generally mean vehicular since bikes are prohibited from the sidewalk downtown.
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Old 03-31-05, 10:41 AM   #18
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One of the funniest things i've seen was some hessian on a mountain bike, being chased through downtown Huntington Beach by 4 police cars. Full on "high speed pursuit that went on for a good half hour.

The mountain biker must have been amped-up on crystal meth or something.


Back to the trhead: Around here cops on bikes are used for patroling crowds in the tourist areas with heavy foot traffic. They are more mobile than cars, and gan get around quicker than foot patrols. Its generally a good idea.

Bike cops are in better shape than their donut eating counter parts. They also seem to have a more relaxed approach in dealing in situations that require police intervention.

They don't seem to bother cyclists
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Old 03-31-05, 11:50 AM   #19
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As others have pointed out they are primarily for pedestrian management, not vehicular, so they go where peds are as peds travel.

They are generally in denser urban enviroments, places where peds gather. They also use them in the Phoenix airport. That actually is funny to me, on a full sus mtb with knobbie tires and a helmet, riding indoors.

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Old 03-31-05, 12:22 PM   #20
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Started off in Seattle IIRC. The IPMBA training course is pretty comprehensive. those cities/towns which use properly bike-trained cops find they have a superior arrest rate to car patrols, espec. where local drug dealing goes on.

They also find that people respond better to them than foot or car patrols and are more likely to approach them (US and UK) with info. They're also more efficient at catching local young scallies committing minor crimes/misdemeanours since they can use the short cuts and back alleys, etc. which patrol cars can't.

I've done basic training for one of the local police forces (not IPMBA level) for Community Support Officers in traffic riding and simple bike handling techniques and they agree with the above.

BTW, I think the programme had the word Blue in it.
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Old 03-31-05, 12:34 PM   #21
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After I wrote that I didn't remember one incident of bicycle cops riding by road rules, I remembered one incident where they were riding in the street in at a fast rate to some location. I think it was during some of the war protests and there were in sort of a convoy with police cars who had their lights and sirens going. I suppose the bicycle cops were being escorted across downtown to wherever they were needed, and they were moving at a fairly rapid pace. I would think they were in pretty good shape if they were ready to take on rowdy protestors after that ride.
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Old 03-31-05, 12:40 PM   #22
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Believe it or not I've recently applied for a position on the Atlanta PD and I dream of being a bike cop. Can you imagine being paid to ride all day?
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Old 03-31-05, 01:03 PM   #23
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Just a fun fact.

The first ever speeding ticket for a motor vehicle was handed out by a bike cop in the late 19th century, On lexington ave, New york city. For a whole 12MPH. Bring back those days.
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Old 03-31-05, 03:22 PM   #24
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There's also an ex-BMX racer that is now a police officer and he teaches the bike cops in California. His name escapes me right now.
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Old 03-31-05, 03:59 PM   #25
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I think cops on bikes is a good thing. All the advantages of cops on bikes have been mentioned - mobility, etc.

In my home town we eventually got 2 cops on bikes just before a bike rodeo my local cycling club was having. Well, we wanted them to show up at the rodeo, ya know, good PR for them and good point to drive home to motorists about the advantage of bicycles.

The big day of the bike rodeo arrives and the police officers show up on their bikes....

.......with their helmets on backwards. Honest injun. No foolin', helmets were on backwards.

Great training guys.

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