January 2014: Timetable and pilot plan to be published for mayor's initiative to offer about 100 electric bikes for policing the boroughs
September 2013: Sherborne (Dorset) police add to their bike fleet with 2 new Giant Revel 0.5s funded by Magna Housing
Easter 2013: Dorset Fire and Rescue service re-introduce mountain bike patrols to fight arson attacks on heathland near Poole
March 2013: Houghton (Sunderland) PCSOs take ownership of 4 Carrera Vulcans part-funded by Gentoo Living.
March 2013: the Mayor of London's Vision for Cycling in London announces plans for a full-suspension electric mountain bike to be trialled by the Metropolitan Police.
November 2012: a BBC Freedom of Information request shows "many" London local businesses including McDonalds donated mountain bikes to the police for patrols in their area between March 2007 and November 2012.
September 2012: 3 Giant Revel bikes provided to North Bradford Neighbourhood Policing Team part funded by local Neighbourhood Watch association.
July 2012: Stone (Staffordshire) PCSOs receive a Merida Speeder donated by a local bike shop.
June 2012: Guernsey police begin a trials of patrols on new Specialized Hardrocks running until the start of October. Funding was received from the Channel Isles Co-op.
May 2012: Beat officers in Kelso, Coldstream and Eyemouth (Scottish Borders) begin bike patrols.
April 2012: Spalding police begin patrols on 6 new Specialized Hard Rock Disc 2012 bikes paid for by a councillor from his designated member budget.
March 2012: Local Police Units in Loughborough begin patrols on 10 new Carrera bikes.
October 2011: Knowsley Housing Trust provide funding for cycling equipment (helmets, flourescent jackets etc) for officers using (Marin) bikes in Kirkby, Liverpool.
August 2011: Southend disbands its specialist cycle squad due to budget cuts across the Essex force. The squad was set up in February 2011.
June 2011: Lerwick (Shetland) police introduce 2 Smith and Wesson Perimeter bikes for patrol work.
May 2011: Salford South Neighbourhood Policing Teams begin 6 month trial of 20 Urban Mover UM 44S electric bikes (4 bikes per team).
May 2011: local Tesco store funds new Cube bike for West Barnes (London) Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
April 2011: North Cumbria police acquire 20 Saracen Mantra bikes through a Base Command Funding bid. The bikes will be used in Carlisle, Penrith, Appleby and Brampton.
March 2011: Charfleets Group, organisers of Dagenham market, donate a Carrera Vulcan to the local Safer Neighbourhood Team to assist in policing the Sunday market. Halfords match the offer with an identical bike.
March 2011: local oil and insurance companies provide 2 Smith and Wesson Precinct bikes to Westhill (Aberdeenshire) police.
January 2011: Porthcawl Neighbourhood Policing Teams receive 4 Claude Butler Pagan bikes donated by a local cycle retailer
January 2011: Southport police call for help with funding to buy 4 bikes costed at under £700 each.
November 2010: 4 police bikes (inluding 3 Kona Blast Deluxes) stolen from shed at Brandon (Suffolk) police station.
October 2010: McDonald's donates a Claud Butler Explorer 500 to Newham police (London).
September 2010: new cycle patrol initiative set up on the Union Canal in and around Edinburgh (Specialized Hardrocks).
September 2010: Metropolitan Police's / TFL's bike-based task force (see June 2010) increased to 40 officers.
August 2010: Edinburgh paramedics begin a 6 month trial of 2 electric Trek Valencia+ bikes lent by the Electric Cycle Company.
July 2010: Tameside West (Greater Manchester) Neighbourhood Policing Team take deliver of 3 Land Rover bikes funded by local partnership.
June 2010: 20 Hackney Council Community Safety Wardens receive police cycle training.
June 2010: Metropolitan Police launch 30 strong bike-based task force funded by Transport for London to tackle bike theft. (All use Specialized bikes.)
May 2010: Liverpool South police acquire 2 Kona Fire Mountain Deluxe bikes for patrol work in parks and open spaces.
May 2010: Essex police launch Operation Velo (runs until 1 November 2010) with the aim of cycling 100,000 miles or more on patrol. This is the 2nd year that such an operation has been run.
April 2010: Oadby and Wigston (Leicester) local policing unit start using a marked up BMX (Haro F3) for patrol work and to give school safety sessions. Bike donated free by Haro.
March 2010: South Oxhey (Watford) neighbourhood police begin using 8 Specialized Hardrocks.
March 2010: Strathclyde police publish invitation to tender for supply and delivery of 100 mountain bikes, "Trek 3900 or equivalent". Approximate value £35,000. 8 firms submitted offers. Alpine bikes were chosen.
March 2010: Parklands, Northampton, officers unable to use new bikes until they have completed 10 hours of training.
March 2010: Grant from regional transport partnership provides 7 Smith and Wesson Precincts to Grampian police for use in rural Aberdeenshire towns: Banchory, Ballater, Alford and Huntly.
February 2010: Lincolnshire beat manager begins trial of Brompton folding bike, taken to rural locations by car then used for patrol work. Bike loaned by Brompton.
August 2009: Buchan (Aberdeenshire) police use 6 new Smith and Wesson bikes to police the Wizard festival.
July 2009: Hartlepool police start patrols on 12 new Raleigh Freeride AT20 cycles.
July 2009: Special Police Constable gets a Specialized Hardrock to patrol Afan Forest Park (south Wales) alongside park rangers.
July 2009: Chippenham Neighbourhood Policing Team takes delivery of 4 Smith and Wesson Customs.
June 2009: 12 cycle officers patrol at Glastonbury Festival.
May 2009: Fire officers begin cycle patrols in Shoreditch, London on Boardman Sports. Officers will patrol 29 of the 33 London boroughs in summer 2009, up from 12 in 2008.
May 2009: Haverhill (Suffolk) Safer Neighbourhood Team receive 2 Carrera Vulcan Vs donated by local busineses.
April 2009: Porthcawl officers granted £200 to upgrade 2 Raleigh Lithium bikes which had been in storage for 5 years.
March 2009: Bedlington (Northumberland) police start using 2 Giant XTC 2s following successful bid to Safer Stronger Community Fund.
February 2009: West Bromwich Neighbourhood Policing Team receive Specialized Hardrock funded by Beth Johnson Housing Association.
January 2009: Wrecclesham, The Bourne and Rowledge (Surrey) PC starts using Wisper 905se City electric bike for patrols.
December 2008: city council community fund approves three cycles for PCs and PCSOs in Braunstone and Rowley Fields, Leicester.
October 2008: West Isle of Wight police receive 2 Dawes XC 1.6 bikes paid for by local parish councils.
October 2008: A new bike unit is set up to cover Leith and Drylaw, north Edinburgh, and receives 11 Specialized Hardrocks Sport Discs paid for by local companies.
October 2008: Queensbury (South Bradford) Neighbourhood Policing Officers receive a Land Rover Santiago and a Land Rover Karnac donated by a local cycle shop.
September 2008: Rossendale (Lancashire) Neighbourhood Policing Team receive 2 Giant Terragos from local Community Safety Partnership.
August 2008: local Neighbourhood Watch raise funds for 1 Land Rover Cotapaxi and 1 Smith and Wesson Custom for Alcester (Warwickshire) Safer Neighbourhood Team.
July 2008: 2 Caerleon (Newport) Neighbourhood Policing Team officers chase and apprehend 2 muggers using their Specialized Rockhoppers .
June 2008: Neighboorhood police in Headingley, Leeds, receive 2 Specialized Hardrocks paid for by local pub-owner.
June 2008: Devon and Cornwall police take delivery of 120 Smith and Wesson Patrol bikes.
June 2008: 8 cycle officers to patrol at Glastonbury Festival.
May 2008: Clifton police station (Nottingham) takes delivery of 5 Giant XTC 4.5s to replace ones that were stolen.
April 2008: North Yorkshire police receive 9 sponsored Orange G2s for patrol work in Harrogate, Richmondshire and Craven.
April 2008: Brigg (Humberside) police receive 3 Claude Butler Cape Wraths for patrol work.
March 2008: local companies sponsor 2 Specialized Rockhoppers for Ryde, Isle of Wight, police.
March 2008: 10 PCSOs from the Manor and Arbourthorne Safer Neighbourhood Team (Sheffield) supplied with Scott Aspect 20s.
March 2008: Doncaster South Safer Neighbourhood Team PCSOs receive 2 Specialized Rockhoppers.
March 2008: Harrogate Safer Neighbourhoods Group order an Orange G2 from Yorkshire company Orange. The PCSO to use it will be the first to do his beat by bike in Harrogate.
February 2008: Thurston (Bury St Edmunds) PCSO receives Coyote Manitoba paid for by parish council.
February 2008: Charminster & Queens Park (Bournemouth) Safer Neighbourhood Team are presented with 2 Specialized Hardrocks.
February 2008: Wentworth North Safer Neighbourhood Team (Rotherham) officers receive 2 Santa Cruz Chameleon Pursuit Pros.
December 2007: 50 Trek 3900 mountain bikes donated to Glasgow police Central and West Division by Strathclyde Passenger Transport.
December 2007: PCSO in Strensall (York) receives Smith and Wesson Perimeter paid for by local security firm.
October 2007: Radford Road police station in Nottingham takes delivery of 2 Giant Terragos for beat work.
September 2007: 2 cycle patrol starter packs from KIT are bought for community beat officers in Keith and Fochabers (Grampian Moray Division, north east Scotland) for urban and rural beat work. The bikes are Specialized Hardrocks (disc brakes).
September 2007: police and PCSOs in Greater Manchester with less than a year's bike patrol experience banned from using bikes pending a safety review following the death of a PCSO in collision with a lorry in Wigan.
September 2007: Weymouth and Portland (Dorset) police receive 12 Raleigh AT20s with CycleSiren siren / light units.
June 2007: Cramlington (Northumberland) Neighbourhood Beat Managers get 2 Raleigh Explores (reported as "not comfortable").
June 2007: Farnworth and Kearsley (Bolton) officers and community support officers get 6 bikes, Carrera Vulcans and Carrera Krachens, supplied by Halfords, 1 of which was supplied free of charge.
June 2007: Farnworth and Kearsley (Bolton) officers and community support officers get 6 bikes, Carrera Vulcans and Carrera Krachens, supplied by Halfords, 1 of which was supplied free of charge.
June 2007: Wakefield and the 5 Towns Neighbourhood Policing Teams receive 18 locally purchased bikes: 9 Claude Butler Rocks and 9 GT Avalanches.
June 2007: the New Deal Neighbourhood Team (inner Bristol) buy 15 Specialized Hardrock Sports with Crudcatchers, and 4 headcams that fit to bike helmets.
June 2007: Clifton (York) beat police approach Nestlé for funding for 10 mountain bikes.
April 2007: Howdenhall Police Station (south Edinburgh) receive 4 Specialized Hardrock Sport Discs. The model was recommended by Cycling Scotland and the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative.
April 2007: Windsor and Maidenhead Local Police Area buys 2 Specialized Rockhoppers (M4 frames) for policing in Maidenhead, funded by regional government.
March 2007: Petts Wood and Knoll (Bromley, London) Safer Neighbourhood Team receives 4 GT Outposts sponsored by local businesses and residents associations.
March 2007: West Mercia force anticipate buying 85 bikes by April 2008 to add to the 70 currently in use. They will be Smith and Wesson Tacticals with minor modifications and additions.
February 2007: Ryedale, (north Yorkshire) police get 5 Specialized Hardrocks (disk-brake model) for neighbourhood policing.
February 2007: Blackburn town centre's North West Neighbourhood team take delivery of 3 Specialized Hardrock Disk 2007s.
January 2007: Wrexham police begin using 3 Powercruiser electric bikes to tackle vandalism.
January 2007: Oadby and Wigston Borough Council (Leicester) pay for 2 Specialized Hardrock 2007s for use by local officers.
January 2007: Trowbridge, Wiltshire police receive 3 Smith and Wesson Tactical bikes primarily for neighbourhood patrol.
December 2006: 3 month trial of bike ambulance in Birmingham city centre begins. The bike is a Cannondale F5 2007 model sponsored by O2.
December 2006: Bracebridge Heath (Lincoln) Neighbourhood Policing Team receive a Giant Boulder (XCT fork) from a local neighbourhood watch group.
December 2006: Watford police take delivery of 6 Specialized Hardrocks.
November 2006: Stratford Urban Safer Neighbourhoods Team receive their eighth bike: a Land Rover Cotapaxi, with a ninth, sponsored by a local caravan park, to be added soon.
November 2006: Cycling Demonstration Town funding used to buy 7 Specialized Hardrock Sports (2006 model) for policing in Lancaster and Morecambe.
November 2006: Bromley Town Safer Neighbourhood Team receive 2 Carrera Vulcans donated by Halfords.
October 2006: Merseyside police receive 2 Marin Trail Pioneer bikes for patrols at Whiston Hospital, funded by Taylor Woodrow and Elliot Thomas.
October 2006: St Helens police receive 5 Dawes Oxides and 5 headcams from Riverside Housing.
September 2006: Southville (Bristol) police supplied with 4 Felt QT250s.
August 2006: Lothian and Borders police set up new bike unit to cover Edinburgh city centre. 17 Specialized Hardrock Sport (Discs) are bought for the unit. 12 of the officers on the team have been on Cycling Scotland's police training course.
July 2006: Yate, (South Gloucestershire) introduces 3 Marin Pioneer Trail bikes, mainly for use by PCSOs.
July 2006: North Bournemouth police start using 2 locally funded Specialized Hardrocks for beat work and antisocial behaviour patrols.
July 2006: Merseyside Fire And Rescue purchased 5 Specialized Rock Hoppers from KIT (Kreative Innovative Technologies).
June 2006: Essex police order 106 Smith and Wesson Perimeters for use in neighbourhood policing initiatives around the county.
June 2006: Stoney Stanton Station, north east Coventry, take delivery of 6 Giant Rincons.
June 2006: Leeds City Council fund 4 bikes for Pudsey and Weetwood police. The cycles are custom built onto a (titanium) Merlin Malt frame.
Summer 2006: Kent police buy 60 Smith and Wesson "Custom" bikes.
April 2006: Falkirk police buy 10 Raleigh Freeride bikes to add to those used by community officers and deploy them at the Big in Falkirk event.
March 2006: North Leamington police add a new Claude Butler to their fleet of bikes for beat work.
October 2005: North Tyneside Area Command receives around 15 new bikes (Claude Butler Olympus).
October 2005: Walton Lane police station in Liverpool buy 2 more Marin Palisades to add to the half dozen or so already in use in the Anfield and Everton areas.
October 2005: Lincoln Anti-social Behaviour Officers begin using 2 bikes (Specialized Hardrocks). CCTV equipment attached to helmets
New bike purchases in 2005 at Perth and Dundee (Merida Cruise and Carreras)
September 2005: 2 Community Officers receive bikes for city centre policing in Norwich. The bikes are to be used by the Licensing Team in the evenings. (Smith and Wesson Tactical)
August 2005: in Newcastle, the Byker and Walker Community Teams add 8 bikes bringing their total to 12. (Mainly Specialist Hardrocks)
August 2005: police in south Milton Keynes receive 6 bikes for patrol work (Smith and Wesson Perimeters)
July 2005: Police Community Support Officers begin bike patrols at a number of towns in Gloucestershire. (12 new Smith and Wesson Customs provided to add to those already in use at stations)
June 2005: Somerset and Avon force use Marin Nail Trails as part of policing at Glastonbury.
June 2005: Bracknell police receive 2 sponsored Smith and Wesson Perimeters for beat and community support work. As of February 2006 they have 4 Perimeters.
Summer 2005: York, Fulford Station, set to increase the number of bikes available from 13 to 19. (Scott Boulders and Aspens)
April 2004: 6 Kona Hoss's introduced in central Birmingham. 20 more followed in October (donated by a central shopping centre) (still in use June 2011)
Police on mountain bikes
Your chances of seeing a policeman on a bike are probably the best they've been for 30 years. What's causing the revival?
"It is very funny, ha, ha stuff, but cops on bicycles is a serious thing. Communities love them. In Northern Ireland we had bicycles everywhere." [President of ACPO, November 2009]
Some stations are still finding it difficult to get them in the budget; until they have been seen to work the beat officer may doubt their value. Once used, they are a unanimous success. In Maldon, Essex, following the introduction of bikes in May 2008, a Special Inspector reported in May 2009, "I cannot over estimate the impact I believe this type of patrol has had on ASB [antisocial behaviour]". In May 2010, following introduction of bikes 2 months previously, a Watford sergeant said, "In my opinion all Safer Neighbourhood teams should use push bikes". In October 2011 a Liverpool sergeant reported, following a suggestion that use of cycles be discontinued to save costs, "our Command Team have decided that the bikes are too valuable a resource to cut".
Their success isn't surprising and the advantages are common sense: one issue police talk about is the stealth factor. South Gloucestershire found them useful "to police Halloween  as we can surprise the groups of youths by popping up where they least expect us". (In spooky masks maybe?) They're obviously good at getting to incidents in places like playing fields or canal towpaths. In Liverpool bikes were bought initially to target crime on the SUSTRANS Loopline bike route which follows a disused rail route: a place where a suspect who ran off could not be followed by a car. Bikes are uniquely good for stopping offenders on bikes. The Metropolitan Police estimated that 5.3% of Personal Robbery in their area, that is all of London except the City, were done by offenders on bikes from April 2012 to March 2013, a figure which has grown over the last 5 years. In Sheffield, "After a spate of muggings and robberies in pedestrian underpasses, [bike] beats were adapted to include these areas. Virtually overnight this type of crime disappeared." There is growing recognition that bikes are the best response vehicle for some types of incident: following mass-fighting in a Maidenhead suburb, a resident said: "What we need is police coming around on bicycles - they can zip and catch people." [April 2007].
In West Yorkshire the police report, "Recently, [May 2006] a member of the public walked into Wood Street Police station [Wakefield] and handed over a cheque for £500 for the police to buy another bike for the area in which he lives."
They are also quick. The coordinator of London Ambulance's Cycle Response Unit reports, "Seven or eight times out of ten, we're arriving on the scene before ambulances" [July 2008]. In the City of London, where there are more bikes on patrol than cars, response times have halved with the use of bikes, and cycle police are sent to grade 1 calls from 7.30am to 11pm [December 2009]. Bike squads are being used to search an area such as a housing estate quickly following a crime.
They're easy for the public to flag down and talk to. They've been used as a barrier to establish a safe area on the road following an accident. Also reported is the way they break down barriers with children who want to know about the bikes. As pointed out by a South Wales Sergeant in January 2011, "These conversations reveal some excellent intelligence which leads to a number of anti social behaviour issues being addressed and resolved". And they can only be good for the overall status and profile of cyclists generally, a group still regarded as deviants by many other road users. If the police use bikes, it shows it's a sensible, fast way to get around. They're cheap (and sometimes donated or sponsored): Glasgow City Council in 2000 reported that "15 officers can be deployed for the same cost as supplying and equipping one car". (Many forces, though not all, send officers on training so that may need to be factored into the cost. In Scotland, for example, officers from Central, Fife, Lothian & Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Tayside and Strathclyde were sent on Cycling Scotland training in the 2 years to summer 2006). And they keep the police fit. In the second half of 2002 the York Community Cycle Unit ran a six month pilot project involving one Sergeant and three PCs; there was no absenteeism through sickness.
At Portsmouth Town and Southampton football matches since season 2003 - 2004 police on bikes have been deployed for crowd control. In season 2012 - 2013 4 officers are being deployed at smaller games and up to 12 at big games (in pairs). They can watch rival fans further from the ground than police on foot so are an early warning system, and can act quickly to outflank a crowd or block a road if problems are developing. Each pair also has a camcorder for filming incidents. This concept may be extended to send real-time footage back to a control room to help make decisions.
The drawbacks: not being able to transport people arrested, and when attending a large incident the bike isn't as quick as a car to secure. In the first case a car can be called. In the second case, cycling in 2s at least reduces the chances of a bike being stolen at a large incident, and some orders for bikes request a brake-mount fitted front-wheel lock which doesn't need a key to lock it, just to open it. A final drawback is that you can imagine them being less popular in really hilly cities like Bradford or Halifax or places in the Welsh Valleys, although Sheffield cycle paramedics said in 2009 that being based uphill from the city centre allowed them to get to incidents.
Officers on bikes were among the first sent to the scene of the London Aldgate bombing on July 7 2005.
What about the bikes themselves? Reliability and strength are more important than performance. Often they'll cover large distances every day, and kevlar anti-puncture tyre liners are useful. They are likely to be thrown down on concrete quite frequently. Front suspension for mounting or descending steps and kerbs is a given. Where a number of bikes are available at a station, rather than using considering them a pooled resource, an interesting idea is to allocate a bike to a pair of officers so they become responsible for its maintenance. Each bike in a large pool needs to be uniquely identifiable so it can have a service record similar to a car's.
There's a wide range of bikes in use at the moment, reflecting the haphazard way they were being introduced in ones and twos, although things are now getting more focussed. The fact that some of central Birmingham's Kona Hoss fleet is still in use in 2012, 8 years after their introduction, is testimony to the value of starting out with a good quality bike. City of London, West Midlands and South Yorkshire police have all been supplied with (very high-spec) Chameleon Pursuit Pro bikes by Santa Cruz. In fact Santa Cruz are the force approved bike in South Yorkshire [February 2007]. Santa Cruz are also in Kent, the Met, West Mercia and Hampshire forces. Elsewhere Specialized Hardrocks are increasingly popular; after that it's a mixture of Giants, Treks, Saracens, Claude Butlers and many others.
Hi-tech bikes may not be helpful: one policeman reports "The daft thing is though that our bikes are £750 a time full suspension mountain bikes, which are way over the top for the job, and as it's a hilly patch, full suspension is a nightmare when going upwards" (June 2008). Where there's a more coordinated approach to buying bikes, sometimes the Smith and Wesson "Tactical" and "Custom" and lower spec "Perimeter" models are being chosen. The American weapons manufacturer only started making bikes in 1997, but their police bikes became popular in the US and for a time were doing well here. Essex police for example have 134 Smith and Wesson bikes out of a total force-wide of about 240 [March 2010]. Kent police have a formal contract in place with a Smith and Wesson supplier [August 2010]. They arrive white from the US and get marked up by suppliers over here, although unmarked undercover bikes are also used. The Perimeter tends to be chosen for beat work and the Tactical and Custom for more pro-active work which is likely to need more off-road cycling. Smith and Wesson bikes took a blow, however, when it was reported in November 2010 that Lambeth police were considering switching to Treks because of regular rear wheel damage being caused by the weight of some of the riders along with their gear.
If the Smith and Wesson gun - bike crossover seems strange, remember BSA, best known for bikes, motorised and otherwise, stands for Birmingham Small Arms. BSA was originally, and is still, a gun manufacturer. During the 2nd World War, the company made both precision firearms and folding bikes for the parachute forces.
Trials of electric bikes by the police have occurred sporadically from around 2007 with mixed feedback. However in summer 2008 North Wales Police (Central Division) bought 14 Wisper 905se electric bikes to add to the 3 Powercruisers in Wrexham (Eastern Division). As the technology improves, interest in this option may well increase. Edinburgh paramedics began a trial of Trek Valencia+ bikes in summer 2010. Initial reaction was positive, with one paramedic saying, "comparing last year on the mountain bike with this year on the electric bike, I'd say I've probably cut one or two minutes off my response time". In October 2013 plans for around 100 electric bikes to be offered to London police were announced by the Mayor's office, which would certainly represent the biggest trial so far. A full timetable and pilot plan should be published by the in early January. Sponsorship is likely to form part of this initiative.
The kit that goes with the bikes is the clothes (shorts, waterproofs, flourescent tops, gloves, shoes etc), bags and racks, sirens, marked helmets, locks and other optional extras. Police bikes have been able to use blue flashing lights since legislation in October 2005. An additional expense likely to be overlooked is maintenance; Essex police have taken a force-wide approach in estimating a budget of £36,000 for maintenance of their 240 or so bikes for 2010/11 [March 2010].
It's perhaps not surprising that London, the only British city to be putting serious money into developing its cycling infrastructure, is leading the way. But where London leads, the rest of Britain often follows, so if you haven't seen a policeman on a mountain bike yet, keep looking.