How it all began
In 1890, the first Humber safety bicycle came on the
market. This bicycle was a major improvement on the existing tricycles and velocipedes.
The safety bicycle was the first to have a low frame and two equal sized wheels.
With the invention in 1888, of the pneumatic tyre the bicycle became a real
means of transport.
|Constables in The Hague, NL
Around 1900 the Police Force started to show interest
in the use of the bicycle.
Most of the rural area Police Forces had several villages and hamlets under
their jurisdiction, which they had to visit regularly.
The bicycle was more effective in achieving this than the beat patrol on foot.
In The Hague, all surveillance was, at that time, done on foot. The Officer
patrolled his beat in his district, along a fixed route, with fixed control
points. Citizens set their clocks on time and sent the children to school, because
they knew exactly which time it was when the Officer passed.
Then, each police station was provided with two bicycles for bike patrol duties.
These were ridden by nominated bicycle Officers. The position of bicycle Officer
was only available to the experienced Officers.
The supplier, the firm Fongers, had there own bicycle school on the Spui in
the city center. Potential new bicycle Officers were trained there for their
task. In this day and age this seems ridiculous because everyone can cycle but,
at that time, cycling was not so common. Only a small percentage of the population
understood the art of cycling.
Later the bicycle became a normal way of transport, so each Officer was given
his own bicycle. The higher ranks preferred to go on horseback.
In the years between the two world wars, it was a common sight to see the members
of the bicycle brigade in action. As well as ordinary bicycles many Police Departments
had special carrier cycles for the transport of patients, wounded and bodies.
After the Second World War, the car became a more readily
available form of transport. This was also the case for the Police. When radio
equipment became available, the Police bicycle started to disappear from the
Somewhere around the end of the 1970’s a new type of bicycle started to
appear in the hills of California - the “All Terrain Bike”. This
bicycle had a heavy frame and heavy tyres.
Today, the weight of the mountain bike is a third of the early mountain bikes
and they are fitted with suspension.
In 1987, a Police Officer from Seattle, USA was frustrated by all traffic jams
in the city so, he came up with the proposal for using the mountain bike as
a patrol tool. Seattle is the number one bicycle city in America and his plan
was adopted rapidly. Research had shown that the Police Force had grown distant
from the public. This led to the development of Community Policing.
Experience has shown that the best way to reestablish contact between Police
and the public is the use of Bike Patrol.
In 1993, a sergeant of Police Department Rotterdam-Rijnmond
started the so-called prof-team (PROF: Police Rijnmond on the bicycle).
This team of four Officers functioned very well.
It should be noted that this PROF team proved to be the cradle of what we in
the Netherlands call the "Bike patrol.” In the light of what was
then a new Community Policing style of operating, some Chiefs decided that there
was no more room for the PROF team. History shows that they soon realized their
|The PROF Team
In 1999, Officers in the Netherlands again got the idea
for a bike patrol. A Chief of Police department Hollands-Midden, on a working
visit to Philadelphia saw bike patrols in action on the streets. At the same
time, a Community Officer in the City centre of Arnhem wondered how he could
move more rapidly in the pedestrian area. Bike Patrol provided the answer and
a team was developed.
These initiatives were rapidly recognized as effective
and now, most Police Departments have bike patrols on there streets.
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