Upper Dublin Police Department rolls out electric bike pilot program

By Eric Devlin, Montgomery News (PA)
February 22, 2014

The boys and girls in blue will be looking a little more green in Upper Dublin.

The Upper Dublin Police Department announced it would be rolling out a new electric bike pilot program Feb. 11 as part of its overall green initiative this spring.

The e-bike, as it’s referred, will be used by police officers as part of the township’s Sitewatch program, which patrols and monitors park land and playing fields. According to a township press release, the e-bikes are identical to the fleet of 20 conventional bikes the department already has, except for one difference — “the addition of a small, but powerful, electric motor and battery pack.”

Township officials said the e-bike isn’t intended to replace the conventional bikes, but rather increase the use of bikes overall.

“The electric bike will provide increased speed and range for certain situations where a regular bike would not be ideal,” the release states. “The goal is to replace gas vehicles and cars for jobs where the electric bike makes more sense. The particular e-bike the township is using is silent, can reach speeds of up to 30 mph, has a range of 20-35 miles per charge and costs just 20 cents to recharge using a standard wall outlet.”

“We’ve researched other communities using electric vehicles and the advantages we see for patrolling are obvious,” said Township Manager Paul Leonard in the release. Leonard said the intention is to save the township money, increase the effectiveness of police patrols and help the township become more environmentally friendly.

“New electric bikes, especially those with the performance necessary for police work, can cost thousands of dollars; the township’s investment for the bike was just $1,300,” the release states. “Most of that cost was covered by support from PECO and Electric Bike Technologies of Newportville, Pa.”

In a cost-cutting effort, the township decided to convert one of its current bikes into an e-bike rather than purchase a brand new one, and enlisted the help of Electric Bike Technologies to assist.

“It was a great opportunity for us to be able to work with the Upper Dublin Township and Police,” said Jason Kraft, CEO of Electric Bike Technologies, in the release. “As a native of Cheltenham, it was special for me to be able to contribute locally, and I could tell from our first meeting that the people involved understood how an electric bike would benefit the township.”

“I’m looking forward to getting the bike in use and getting feedback from our officers,” said Deputy Chief Lee Benson, a longtime proponent of incorporating bicycles into the departments operations, in the release.

Police and Sitewatch personnel will be evaluating the bike for the next six to nine months.

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