Pedal police here to stay

By ANNA LOREN, Papakura Courier (NZ), July 30, 2014

Photo:  WHEELY GOOD: From left: Constable Dean Lauder, Auckland Transport community transport co-ordinator Joe Viqasi, Bigfoot Adventures director Kris Bartley and Sergeant Jono Chappell at the handover of the bikes.

Cops will be staying on their bikes, thanks to a gift from Auckland Transport.

Members of the Papakura East neighbourhood policing team have been cycling the streets since February as part of the Police on Bikes initiative.

The partnership between Counties Manukau police and Auckland Transport aims to promote cycle safety and build good relationships between the cops and the community.

Now it is going to be a permanent fixture after the handover of two Avanti bikes.  Auckland Transport has formally given the bikes, which were previously on loan, to the team.

Community transport manager Matthew Rednall says the project has had a positive impact on the community.

"People like seeing officers riding their bikes in and out of alleyways and around the more public places like the train stations and bus stops, plus seeing police on a bike while ‘on the beat' has improved the public perception of using bikes for work transport," he says.

The bikes came from outdoor activity company Bigfoot Adventures and Auckland Transport will take care of their ongoing maintenance.

Auckland Transport community transport co-ordinator Joe Viqasi says he is keen to get frontline staff from his organisation, like parking wardens, on bikes as well.

Counties Manukau police prevention manager Inspector Neil Fisher says he is thrilled the initiative will continue.  It continues the policing district's tradition of "innovation and trying new things", he says.  "A big thing is approachability. This gets us out of cars to on the ground, talking to people."

Constable Dean Lauder, a member of the Papakura East neighbourhood policing team, agrees.

"When we're in cars people sort of stay away but when we're on the bikes they actually come out and talk," he says. "There are a few steep hills and it's a bit of a mission to get up there but the people who live at the top will invite us in for a cuppa."

Bikes have also been given to the Homai, Clendon, Ferguson, Flat Bush and East Tamaki neighbourhood policing teams.

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