The administration of the Bike Patrols for Clean Air Program has moved to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. In recent years, the City of Los Angeles has established successful bicycle patrols in several City departments for various applications, including community policing, parking enforcement, park ranger patrol, emergency services and security patrol. These bicycle patrols have directly improved air quality and reduced the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) associated with patrols by shifting officers from motor vehicles to bicycles to conduct their daily business.
The primary goal of the City’s Bike Patrols for Clean Air Program is to generate reductions in motor vehicle emissions and VMT through the use of bicycles in place of motor vehicles in the City’s patrols. In addition to this primary goal, the City also seeks to lower maintenance costs by providing critical tools and equipment and improve community relations and employee morale through the use of bicycle patrol programs.
Bicycle patrols have proven to be a cost-effective means of providing community policing, parking enforcement, and security with significantly lower maintenance and operating costs than motor vehicles. Often times bicycle officers can access more congested areas than motor vehicle officers and cover more area than officers on foot. Bicycles offer an effective approach to crime surveillance since officers can ride up to a crime scene without being noticed. In addition to the operational benefits, community and public relations are improved through the use of bicycles. Bicycle officers are often viewed as more approachable by the public than officers in motor vehicles. This friendly public interaction can help to improve officer morale, decrease sick-time, and increase productivity.
In Fiscal Year 1997-98, the Environmental Affairs Department (EAD) began purchasing bicycles for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in an effort to reduce harmful air emissions by transferring certain patrol operations from motor vehicles to bicycles. The EAD established the Bike Patrols for Clean Air Program in March 1998 to give other City departments involved in patrol activities the opportunity to participate in this program. At the beginning of FY 2001, approximately 346 bicycles were deployed in City patrol operations with LAPD, the Department of Transportation (LADOT), the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Zoo Department, and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). At the close of 2004, a total of 450 bicycles were deployed in active patrol. Now, the Fire Department (Emergency Medical Responders) and the Department of General Services (security officers) are participating. In 2008, the total number of bikes in the active patrol topped 600. The Port of Los Angeles security patrol officers, Department of Recreation and Parks City lakes lifeguards, and the Public Works/Street Services inspectors now use bike patrols to perform their job duties.
The Bike Medic Team partnership received a Quality and Productivity Award in 2005. Grant funds have been successfully obtained for the Bike Patrols for Clean Air Program. The EAD purchased additional bicycles and associated equipment with the help of a grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) that was leveraged with City funds.
Bicycles provide tremendous air quality and public health benefits when used in patrol applications. It is anticipated that the use of bicycles in patrol applications under the Bike Patrols for Clean Air Program will generate a reduction of almost 12.59 tons of pollutant over the life of the bicycle.