With the return of warm weather, bicyclists have been dusting off their two-wheelers and taking them out on the road. Not everyone these days is a recreational rider, however. Some of the cyclists out there are wearing badges and packing pistols, as police in a few local jurisdictions are increasingly turning to bikes as an alternative to patrolling on foot.
During the past year, the idea has rolled up a good deal of momentum among metropolitan police departments. Baltimore County and Bel Air police initiated mountain-bike patrol teams last summer. Anne Arundel County police recently brought out a similar unit. A Towson precinct captain awaits official approval of his plan for a new two-bike, warm-weather patrol unit that could begin operating next month. And at least one Baltimore City police district is said to be considering starting its own bike patrol.
The existing local bike units, in which police are equipped with handguns and communication radios, have helped deter vandalism and drug crimes in specific areas, including the business section of U.S. 1 in Bel Air, the northern part of the B&A Trail in Anne Arundel and a western Baltimore County apartment complex. Police officials say a bike is more stealthy than a big cruiser, and provides more speed and agility than an officer on foot.