14 August 2008 - "Bobbies on Bikes" is a new initiative to promote cycle safety and use of alternative means of transport. This is a joint project with Nelson City Council and local Police utilizing funding from the NZ Transport Agency. Four bikes have been purchased and training has been provided for police staff.
Road Safety Co-ordinator Margaret Parfitt says, "Nelson City has a high number of cyclists and a roading and cycle network designed for growing numbers of commuter and recreational cyclists. However in Nelson and Tasman cyclists have traditionally been over represented in crash statistics."
Police and other participating members of the local Road Safety Action Planning committee came up with the idea of having police officers riding cycles as a part of their normal duty as a way of engaging with the community and promoting safe cycling at the same time.
The idea was endorsed by the Regional Active Transport Forum, cycle advocacy group and council staff. It is part of a larger package that includes signage on police cars, targeted education and enforcement work.
Margaret Parfitt says there are many advantages to having the police on bikes. These include:
o Police have a whole new "empathy" for cyclists when it comes to vehicles driving/parking in cycle lanes / failure to give way etc
o Ability to patrol off road cycle paths, lanes and urban linkages.
o Social interaction with the community is much more likely when the police officer is on a bike rather than in a car.
o All the usual environmental and health benefits that come with cycling.