Electric Bikes, Motorcycles & Scooters: The Future of Policing on 2 Wheels?

In an effort to improve efficiency, hybrid and electric patrol cars are becoming quite popular among law enforcement agencies. But it’s not all about cars: Electric bikes, E-Motorcycles, and E-Scooters are rapidly being noticed as alternative patrol vehicles.

In an effort to improve efficiency, hybrid and electric patrol cars are becoming quite popular among law enforcement agencies. But it’s not all about cars: Electric bikes, E-Motorcycles, and E-Scooters are rapidly being noticed as alternative patrol vehicles. 

E-Bikes

LAPD e bikes e

(Image source: bosch-ebike.com)

Bikes have long been in service for patrolling parks, trails and other harder-to-reach areas. Now improved technology and innovative design have made them a more commonplace choice.

The electric bike offers the same gears, pedals, and functions of a mountain bike, but with the addition of an electronic motor that allows for higher speeds. Claudia Wasko, General Manager of Bosch eBikes Systems Americas, states: “When a call comes in, an officer can easily adjust the assist level into Turbo and quickly pedal up to 28 mph, that’s comparable with top Tour de France pro rider speeds on flat terrain, and 9 to 10 mph faster than an average rider.”

Police Officer Benjamin Tseng of Federal Way Police Department recounted a story to show how naturally an e-bike can blend into the streets: “In the very first week we were trialing e-bikes we arrested a wanted felon who had gotten away from officers a couple of weeks prior. When he was spotted, a patrol car pulled up and the subject quickly walked away, trying to blend into a busy parking lot. The patrol car was stuck in traffic but an officer with the e-bike was able to zip through traffic and catch up to the subject and arrest him. The subject later admitted he never knew an officer on a bicycle was behind him.”

Besides a more efficient response time, there are other reasons that police departments across the US are fast-adopting e-Bikes: Improved community relations, cost savings, and environmental to name just a few.

Pullman police have unveiled a new electric bicycle program that, according to officers on the bikes, has already changed the game in the city. True to the concept of community policing, the bikes promise to increase the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts. According to Scott Patrick, the department’s school resource officer, the bikes are conversation starters that lead to friendly dialogue between the public and the officers.

LAPD is one of the agencies also making the jump to bicycle-mounted officers. The department now owns 20 e-bikes, representing the largest police eBike fleet in the country.

E-Motorcycles

Woman on Electric Motorcycle

(Image source: flickr.com/photos/candiedwomanire)

Since Harley-Davidson delivered its first police motorcycle to the Detroit Police Department in 1908, motorcycles have been helping officers to arrive at the scene quickly. But as the needs of modern police forces change, so have their ride of choice: Now, more than 100 law enforcement agencies have begun using electric motorcycles, with the trend showing no sign of slowing down.

Benefits of an electric motorcycle include “fuel” cost of a ‘penny per mile’, reduced maintenance requirements, and an almost noise-free operation for stealth patrols, according to the manufacturer Zero. Tactical advantages include greater maneuverability with a lightweight vehicle, instant acceleration from idle, and the ability to ride indoors or in close confines.

Clovis Police Department Corporal, Richard Ashcraft, told Fast Company that the Zero DSRP has completely shifted how his department works. “It makes it easy to jump up on curbs or pass through fields or orchards or whatever we might encounter in our area…They’re so quiet you can sneak right up on someone in an alley selling drugs or doing anything else illegal. They have changed how we patrol.”

Still, the electric two wheels have its drawbacks. A 90 mph highway chase, for example, will run down the Zero DSRP battery in just 60 miles. That’s one reason why the Michigan State Police Precision Driving Unit told Fast Company that its highway patrols will stick with their current rides. 

E-Scooters

Police electric scooters 2

Electric scooters are a relatively new way to travel and the law is still catching up with the technology. While electric scooters have been restricted from pedestrian Parisian walkways after numerous accidents in the French capital, French police have been looking into using E-Scooters (trottinettes) to fight street crime. 

A pair of specially designed trottinettes are being tested by officers in Honfleur, Calvados. The scooters are based on US Army models used in landing operations. Why are they special? They have a 30km range, can reach speeds up to 25kph, and their larger tires provide a smoother ride in a downtown chase. 

It’s expected that officers will be able to reach incidents more quickly than those on foot, or in cars. If the three-month trial is successful, local authorities will invite scooter companies to bid for the contract to make police scooters a more regular sight in France.

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