Bicycle Patrol

Early Bicycle Patrol

Bicycles have been around since the late 1800s and police have been using them for about the same amount of time.

The earliest form of police bicycle patrol was probably the Boston Park Commission's traffic police. They were first used around 1892 to patrol cyclists on the paths of city parks. By 1894 there were bicycle policemen in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Cincinnati and Chicago.


In 1895, New York Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt used his bicycle patrols to police both other cyclists as well as carriage drivers. When chasing down reckless riders, these officers were trained to catch up to the rider and cut in front of him forcing him to stop. If the suspect was uncooperative the officer would sometimes crash into them to get them to stop.

As mentioned the officers would sometimes need to stop runaway carriages as well, quickly riding alongside the spooked horse and grabbing the reigns bringing the animal under control. Often it was not a horse but a reckless driver. In this situation the officer would ride alongside the carriage and jump from his bicycle onto the carriage where he would have to take the reigns away from the offender and arrest him.

Bicycle Patrol Second Wave

Eventually the use of bicycles in police patrol began to fade as the popularity of the automobile began to rise. This changed in 1987 in Seattle, WA.

The Seattle Police Department was faced with a booming crime rate that was due in part to major construction that was going on in the downtown area. With so much construction going on traffic was affected and seriously hampered officers in patrol cars. There were officers on foot but could hardly keep up with the increasing crime rate.

The department looked to its officers to offer suggestions on how to better patrol the downtown area. Officers Paul Grady and Mike Miller, both avid mountain bikers, proposed a mountain bike patrol, and even convinced the Raleigh Cycle Company of America to donate 4 brand new mountain bikes to the department.

On July 10, 1987 Officers Grady and Miller rode onto the streets of downtown Seattle as the 1st ever police mountain bike patrol. Within 30 minutes they had made 3 felony drug arrests and in their 1st month made over 500 misdemeanor arrests - 5 times the average of foot patrol officers.