OLMSTED FALLS, Ohio — It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s just the Olmsted Township Police Department’s latest vehicle — the electric bike. It may not be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, but it gets our bicycle patrol faster to the scene — and covers more ground — than a typical bicycle. I hope the old Superman references put a smile on your face — or maybe a long groan — but the e-bike appearance in the community will “super-ize” the efforts of our bicycle patrol.
“We will spend more time in the community and cover more ground since we won’t be so gassed or fatigued from pedaling,” said Sgt. Leo Spagnola, who has been a bike patrol officer for seven years. “It also makes us more approachable than a patrol car, where you have a door and window between you and a person.”
Police Chief Mark Adam was instrumental in bringing an e-bike to the department. He has seen the benefits of it in the five area communities that have them — Avon, which has two; Sheffield Lake; Bedford Heights; South Euclid; and East Cleveland, with seven.
The bike has regular cycle gears on the right side of the handlebars, with the electric throttle and other power assistance on the left. The flashing lights turn from white to red or blue in, well, a flash. It also has GPS capability.“This is valuable if an officer is down, he cannot get to his radio or, frankly, if it is stolen,” Adam said. According to Adam, there are several advantages the e-bike has over a regular patrol bike. “We get there faster and cover more ground. It can go easily along stairs, hills, gravel, sidewalks, woods and grassy areas without the strain of the officer’s physical exertions,” he said.
“We also carry way more gear than before. Our vests weigh about 20 pounds. If you are chasing someone or heading to a scene, that weight affects your response. Not with an e-bike.” Adam said the bike can be seen at such community events as the upcoming Olmsted Spirit 5K race or dropping off traffic cones in locations when needed. Since it is part of the bike patrol, it will be readily seen throughout the community.
Adam would like to purchase a second e-bike to add to the township’s bike patrol. Watch for the e-bike out on our streets. The bike patrol also just may have a special giveaway to passers-by and youngsters who wear their helmets while riding their bicycles. “We would like to bring the six-hour training course to our community and become a host agency and training center,” Adam said. “That would help us network and share ideas.” Adam and Spagnola both agree the e-bike offers a special benefit.