Bicycle police combine helping others with staying fit

Many occupations require workers to remain physically fit in order to complete their assignments. Sometimes it is possible to combine a love of sports with a means of earning a living. Police bicycle patrols permit many avid cyclists to accomplish this.

Bicycle police patrols became common in the 1890s. Police departments found bicycles effective for rapid response and the ability to traverse difficult terrain. Although motor vehicles have dominated law enforcement transportation, bicycles have undergone a resurgence with the use of mountain bikes.

Modern police bicycles have wide, deeply treaded tires and multiple gears. They allow officers to maneuver through confined spaces as well as off-road trails.

Police officers assigned to bicycle patrols are enthusiastic about riding. A typical patrol can require between five and fifteen miles of riding. A slow- paced ride will burn 400 calories per hour.

The International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) provides training that includes stretching and fitness along with riding skills. Courses last one week and are held nationwide.

Other than police, EMS personnel and security officers utilize bicycles.

“Bicycle patrols add to visibility and communication with pedestrians and business owners,” said Mark Gendron, a Connecticut State Trooper assigned to Hebron who is trained by the IPMBA. The stealth approach of bicycles have aided in drug arrests and crowd control. Trooper Gendron keeps a bike rack on his patrol car so that his bike is always available.

Backus Hospital and the Mohegan Sun Casino use bicycle patrols for security purposes in parking lots and to assist visitors. Lowell Yeager, a retired fireman, bikes approximately 1,500 miles per year in addition to the time he spends on bike patrol at Backus Hospital.

These patrollers are dedicated to helping others and are passionate about staying fit.

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