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The Green Party today welcomes the Upper Hutt Police joining Nelson Police in allocating mountain bikes to some officers for their patrol work.
Green Party Spokesperson on Active Transport (cycling and walking) Kevin Hague says it is especially valuable that police officers will experience first hand the challenges faced by urban cyclists both in roading design and maintenance, and inconsiderate and dangerous behaviour from other road users.
“It’s a great development from so many angles. For one thing the use of bikes by the police sends a powerful signal about the practicality of cycling for getting around and about the legitimacy of cyclists as road users.
“We hope it will also raise police awareness of some of the challenges that cyclists face, leading to a more assertive and effective approach from police in keeping cyclists safe. This in turn should increase the number of people cycling, with massive benefits, both personally and for New Zealand.”
Mr Hague says the use of bikes by police overseas has proved very influential, and he encourages New Zealand police to also experiment with using plainclothes officers on bikes, so they can share the cycling experience of the average cyclist.
Police on bicycles have significant other advantages as well:
They allow police greater contact with citizens than patrol cars and have a much greater range than strictly foot patrols. Bicycle patrol units are an excellent match with community-based policing aims.
Bicycle officers get serious on-the-job exercise.
A bicycle is significantly less expensive than a police car. The cost of a police bike (about $2000) is substantially less than a patrol car. Annual maintenance is about $300.
* Background information on bicycle policing is available at: http://www.ipmba.org/newsletters/ABriefHistoryofPoliceCycling.pdf