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Bike cops hit city streets

Over 100 RCMP officers are trained to patrol on bicycles in Kelowna, and after this week a few more members will be added to that list.

A week long program offers police the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with skills to ride safely in traffic and the confidence to ride a bike in a professional manner in uniform.

According to Cst. Kris Clark several teams of two will soon be hitting the streets to provide 24 hour coverage.

“You can outfit five bike teams to the equivalent of a single vehicle for an entire year,” he says of the benefits of bike patrols. “There is a better range, when you compare to foot patrol. It bridges the gap between foot and car, so stealth range the ability to go places you can’t go in a vehicle.”

Bike patrol members take files just as a general duty officers do, but they have an advantage to attending situations that occur in the downtown core, faster and easier than those in an RCMP cruiser.

“Files such as drinking in the parkades, drinking on the beach, those sorts of offences, possession of a controlled substances in the back alleys, that sort of thing,” explains Clark. “Certainly there is a lot more contact when you are on a bike, people love it when they see an officer on a bike, it is an instant conversation starter.”

Officers train on the bike course the week before the Victoria Day weekend, which is also a perfect time to ensure kids are ready for the road. A bike rodeo was held at École Belgo Elementary on Wednesday, where students were taught basic traffic hand signals and a chance to interact with police officers on bikes.

“Obviously the important message here is that we need to be safe in traffic and that is the number one thing we want (the students) to learn how to do,” says Clark about the bike rodeo.

Grade six students were used as field marshals to take the younger children through the course, explains principal Veronica Dumontet.

“It is super important for children to be aware of bicycle safety, of rules of the road, as well as how to care for and maintain their bike and also just for the spirit of healthy living and getting some exercise.”

Two employees of CyclePath were on hand at the bike rodeo to ensure all of the student's bicycles were in working order.

Bike to work week is also right around the corner starting May 26. Sign up a team for your work place or school class by contacting smart trips at [email protected]

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