The Glendale Police Department reinvigorated its bike patrol program this week in response to new apartment developments that will bring more congestion and foot traffic to the downtown area.
Seven Glendale police officers, and an officer and cadets from Glendale Community College volunteered for training on Wednesday and tried out six new bicycles, which will replace old ones.
They cycled from one side of the city to the other before heading to Brand Park to work on some tricky maneuvers.
One of the participants, Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez, said the biggest advantage of being on two wheels is that it’s much easier to weave around cars and pedestrians, saving crucial time when responding to a call.
“The bikes allow us a lot more maneuverability around that congestion,” he said.
That’s going to be an important asset to have in areas like downtown as more and more residential units become available, Rodriguez said.
More than 3,800units are either recently completed, under construction or in the entitlement process in the city.
Having Glendale officers on bicycles is nothing new, but it has been two years since the last round of training.
The new bikes were purchased using an anonymous $10,000 donation from a local resident last year.
The money covered the purchase of the new Cannondale bikes as well customizing them with sirens, flashing lights and bigger wheels, which help because Glendale has many types of terrain, Rodriguez said.
“The 29-inch wheels help us deal with more obstacles,” he said.
Despite all the grass at Brand Park, bike patrol trainees practiced how to safely ride down a flight of concrete stairs. That was followed by a crash course in how to brake quickly while turning sideways, like drifting with a car.
Officer Alex Lee, who joined the force about a year and a half ago, echoed some of Rodriguez’s concerns about why he wanted to volunteer.
“I thought it was a unique opportunity to patrol in a different way,” he said. “With the trends the way they are, with traffic and everything being the way that it is, we’re trying to stay one step ahead.”
Once the training is complete, deciding when the bike patrol would be deployed is something that will be up to each shift’s watch commander, Rodriguez said.
During the practice run on Wednesday, though, officers got to tackle a real-world scenario when they spotted and cited a vehicle that ran a red light.
Officer Will Estrada, who was one of the trainers, said that citation was the result of another advantage to patrolling on a bicycle.
“It’s a little more covert,” he said. “They’re not expecting police officers on a bike.”
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