Cycling police officers are closer to the public and the concerns of citizens

| October 13, 2015

In the Municipality of Aalborg, cycling police officers have become a common sight in the urban landscape.

“Of course it isn’t possible to take away arrested people on bicycles, but apart from that, there are many benefits of cycling police officers”. Those are the words of Head of the Police in Aalborg, Poul Fastergaard, when we ask him about the city’s bicycling policemen.

Two bike-riding policemen in Aalborg

“Inspired by experiences from both domestic and foreign police corps, the police in Aalborg started experimenting with cycling police in 2012. Today, it is  a permanent part of the police force. One of the main reasons is that the police officers are closer to the public and the concerns of the citizens,” says Poul Fastergaard.

“It is our experience that when we are sitting in the police car with the windows down, the public feels that the distance to us is far and we appear as a distant authority. Whereas on the bike, we can easily jump off the bike and have a better dialogue with the people, and it is much easier to approach us.”

Another benefit for the police is that it is easier to access areas where it is impossible to go by car.

“For example, you cannot enter areas with just pedestrian and bicycle paths and green areas in a police car. Furthermore, the increased accessibility by the bike to new areas means that the police come across people they do not usually meet. By being on bike, we can easily and quickly get around, and we are able to cover longer distances,” explains Fastergaard.

No emergency vehicle lighting

The police force of Northern Jutland has around 15 cycling policemen. They are all based in Aalborg, but they are able to cover other places in the country, should it be needed. This summer, there were cycling police patrol in Skagen (popular beachtown) and for a large PGA golf tournament in Himmerland.

The bike-riding police officers do not have the possibility to bring the same equipment as their colleagues in police cars, but all carry a radio and an earpiece in order to keep in touch with the radio operator at the police station.

“They don’t have the blue emergency lighting on their bikes, but they can easily reach the appropriate destination. Also, like their colleagues in cars, the bicycling policemen are allowed to break traffic regulations as long as they are not at danger for others,” says Poul Fastergaard.

Riding 40km per day in a bulletproof vest

Despite the difficulty to analyze whether the bike riding police have a beneficial effect on the crime rate, the police see many advantages. One example is in relation to the annual carnival in Aalborg. Due to the crowded streets, it is impossible for police car to get around the city, so it is a huge improvement having bike-riding policemen in the jam-packed streets.

“Usually we have been patrolling on foot during the carnival, but our experience has shown that we are much more effective at solving our tasks with bicycles because we can get from A to B much faster. Having bicycles makes us much more flexible so we think it is a good instrument/tool” says Fastergaard, further stating that it is not a problem finding people who are willing to work as bike-riding policemen.

“Both younger male and female policemen want the job. They get plenty of fresh air and exercise, and nobody forces you to bike when it rains. One precondition, however, is that you are in good shape. At the Folkemøde (The People’s Political Festival) at Bornholm, we had a bike-riding police corps who had to ride around 40 km a day while carrying a bulletproof vest.”

 

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Category: Infrastructure, Planning, Policy, Safety

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