E-bikes Already a Hit with Pullman, Idaho, Police Department

The Pullman Police Department has added a pair of new e-bikes in recent weeks for use by officers, who after a short period of using them have already described the vehicles as a “game changer.”

by Anthony Kuipers, Moscow-Pullman Daily News / August 30, 2019
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(TNS) — The Pullman, Idaho, Police Department last week added a new tool to the police force that one officer is calling a “game changer.”

School Resource Officer Scott Patrick stood next to one of the department’s two new pedal assist electric bicycles on Wednesday in front of Pullman High School. After a week of using it, he said the bike is already proving to be worth the investment.

The bikes were purchased from B & L Bicycles in Pullman. Pullman City Administrator Adam Lincoln said the bikes normally cost about $3,900 each, but the department saved some money by trading in a couple of its older bicycles.

The new electric bikes can travel as fast as 30 mph and enhance the rider’s pedaling by 275 percent, Patrick said.

“It has kind of leveled the hills in Pullman,” he said.

Patrick said his response time to an emergency while riding his bike is now comparable to that of a patrol car.

Several days ago, Patrick responded to an emergency call on Bishop Boulevard, and despite having to pedal Spring Street to cross over to Bishop Boulevard, he was still among the first officers to arrive to the scene. Patrick said he was able to tackle Spring Street at 20 mph without expending too much energy before arriving at the scene.

“You’re not tired when you get there,” he said.

He said the department has had a bike program since the 1990s because bikes can give police the ability to get to places cars cannot go.

“It provides us a lot more mobility,” he said.

Bikes can also ease the tension between the public and the police. Patrick said officers appear more approachable on a bike, and bikes are often conversation starters that can lead to a friendly dialogue between the public and the officer.

After test riding a pedal assist electric bike at B & L Bicycles two years ago, Patrick said he told PPD Chief Gary Jenkins he believed the department would benefit from using these bikes. Because of budget restrictions, they were not able to purchase the bikes until this summer.

There is a learning curve when it comes to riding these bikes, he said. A pedal assist electric bike does not accelerate on its own. The rider still has to pedal just like on a regular bike, but they receive an extra boost from the bike’s technology, which multiplies the rider’s pedaling power.

“This is a complete game changer,” Patrick said.

Lincoln said the bike program not only benefits the department, but it supports a local business as well.

“I’m just really excited we’re able to start this program,” he said.

©2019 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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