According to the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA), mountain bikes have proven effective in a number of different environments. They are swift and agile in busy urban areas where traffic snarls and crowds delay motorized units. Bikes are also effective in less urban areas for park patrol, parking lots, campus areas, residential patrol, business security, athletic or civic events, and specialized details. They can be operated on streets, sidewalks, alleys, trails, and in any areas that are difficult to access with motor vehicles.
The advantages of using bicycles in public safety include:
• Bicycles can easily penetrate crowds – in highly congested areas police, EMS, and security personnel on bikes can move around more easily than patrol cars and ambulances.
• Response time in heavy traffic is improved – during their trial period in Orlando, bike medics responded in less than one minute 55% of the time; less than two minutes 83% of the time; and less than three minutes 95% of the time; contrasted with an average of four minutes for motorized rescue units.
• Stealth advantage – bicycles give officers the “stealth advantage” – because they are silent. Cops on bikes can ride right up to the scene of a crime before they are noticed.
• Police, EMS, and security cyclists lead by example – promoting helmet use and bike safety to the community and its children.
• Bicycles are great for public relations – an officer or a medic on a bike is much more approachable than one in a patrol car or ambulance.
• Bicycle use promotes good health – and departments benefit from decreased healthcare costs.
• Bicycles are enjoyable – even occasional bike duty improves morale.
• Bicycles are cost-effective – the average cost per bike is approximately $1200, a fraction of the cost of a cruiser, an ambulance, or any other motorized vehicle – and the annual maintenance costs are low.
• Bicycles are environmentally-friendly – no fossil fuels or emissions, and less parking surface is needed.
The IPMBA’s Complete Guide to Public Safety Cycling, third edition, is the only publication devoted exclusively to public safety cycling. It represents decades of experience and the collective expertise of hundreds of police, EMS, and security personnel who operate bicycles in the line of duty. Although they serve in many capacities, they all agree that, in the hands of a trained public safety cyclist, the bicycle is not just a mode of transportation-it is literally and figuratively a vehicle for delivering essential services to the community.
Written by members and friends of IPMBA, the Third Edition features new and expanded material, including:
• Bicycle Response Teams: A versatile, approachable crowd management team that responds quickly to crowd movements and changes in demeanor.
• Community Engagement: An essential aspect of public safety that can be enhanced by the accessibility of personnel on bicycles and through bicycle-focused initiatives.
• E-Bikes: A technology that has expanded patrol areas, enabled faster response times, and attracted additional public safety personnel to bicycle duty.
• Specialized Security: A field with a focus on routine patrol, rather than call-driven response, for which bicycles are ideal.
The most recent Complete Guide to Public Safety Cycling contains updated statistics, photos, figures, and examples of how public safety cyclists impact their communities as well as ways in which agencies can sustain and diversify their bicycle operations.