Soon many BART Police officers will be patrolling stations and parking lots on two wheels instead of four. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, BART officials announced the launch of the BART Police Bike Patrol Pilot Program at the North Berkeley BART Station. It will mean some BART Police officers and Community Service Officers (CSOs) will use pollution-free pedal power to patrol the transit system instead of driving cars.
"The bike patrol pilot program is a perfect Earth Day story," BART Board Vice President Bob Franklin said. Franklin chairs the Board’s Sustainability/Green Committee and was joined by BART Police Lieutenant Bill Schultz and CSOs Lauren LaPlante and Janet Sakamoto to announce the program. "The program is great for the environment and great for our passengers who will benefit from a more accessible and visible police force," Franklin said. "Additionally, our program removes up to 30 patrol cars from the road, prevents harmful emissions, reduces BART’s carbon footprint and saves our riders approximately $60,000 per year on fuel and vehicle maintenance costs."
PROGRAM INCREASES VISIBILTIY & DECREASES CRIME
The bike program means riders will see more BART police out and about instead of in their cars. "Increasing officer visibility is one of the key improvements now underway in the BART Police Department," Board Member Carole Ward Allen said. Ward Allen chairs the BART Board’s Police Department Review Committee, which is guiding the effort to enhance BART’s policing services. "We listened when the community said they wanted to see a greater police presence. So, we began redeploying officers to spend more time inside stations and riding trains. This bike patrol program further enhances our visibility efforts as our customers will not only see officers with their bikes in parking lots, but on trains as they travel between stations."
"This bike program is a ‘back to basics’ type of patrol, which will increase community interaction," Lt. Schultz said. "The bike patrols will also act as a deterrent against crime in parking lots, as officers on bikes are harder to see coming than officers in a patrol car. As an added benefit, biking will help keep our police department fit."
PATROLS BEGIN THIS SUMMER
The first bikes patrols hit the street this summer. However, first BART must purchase the bikes and uniforms and work with the El Cerrito Police Department to put officers and CSOs through a 24-hour training course. The goal is to have up to 40 BART officers and 24 CSOs on bike patrol. Bike patrols will only occur during the day and in dry weather. Officers will not take bikes onto trains during peak commute bike-blackout periods.
"If a police officer on a bicycle needs to transport a passenger, it will be handled in the same way that a train patrol officer handles it now - by calling for a patrol car," Lt. Schultz said.
This eco-friendly program is being funded by a $92,000 state safety and security grant.