There is one sure sign of summer every year in Elmira – city police officers on bicycles.
The Elmira Police Department has resumed its officer bike patrols, according to this report on WETM-TV.
The program is in its 15th year.
I love the idea of Elmira police officers on bikes for many reasons
- Bikes are a great way for police to forge a closer connection with the neighborhoods and people they protect.
- Bikes are an effective crime-fighting tool because bikes permit police to quickly and quietly patrol Elmira.
- It’s healthy for the officers and good for the environment.
- And perhaps most importantly, I believe that those police officers riding bikes quickly get an appreciation for the daily dangers faced by cyclists.
I hate to say it, but until you have actually spent a lot of time out on the roads on a bicycle, the general public just doesn’t have an appreciation for how frequently motorists dangerously threaten cyclists’ safety.
This goes for many police officers, too, so I think the fact that many officers are spending significant time on bikes gives them a firsthand appreciation for just how often cyclists are exposed to close brushbacks by cars, getting squeezed into the curb, doored or other dangerous driving.
Elmira Police Officer Jeremy Oakes told WETM the bikes offer several benefits.
“Most people aren’t looking for bikes; they don’t see them coming,” he said. “They’re quiet. It’s a very effective tool to get out there.
“Plus, it’s nice that the kids want to talk to you. People say, ‘Hey, when did you get the bikes?’ And it opens up communication.”
If it weren’t for a lack of manpower, officials told WETM they’d have the bike patrol out every day instead of primarily on weekends.
Oakes, who says he’s made several arrests on the bike, says his main patrol area is Heritage Park on the Eastside.
Elmira isn’t the only city upstate using bike patrols. The Buffalo Police Department told the Buffalo News last month it would use bikes and Segways as part of an “enhanced visibility plan” in the city.
“Our approach this summer will be to provide the highest police visibility possible,” Mayor Byron W. Brown told the Buffalo News.
“We want to be out there and want to stop crime before it even happens,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
To learn more about police bike patrols, go to the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association and click on their FAQs.
James B. Reed
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)