Use of Various Bicycle Types by Public Safety Cyclists Position Paper - October 2017

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As the leader in the field of public safety cycling, IPMBA endeavors to keep abreast of changing technologies, methodologies, and other applicable factors.  This includes equipment and devices for use in training and in the field.

IPMBA comprises a diverse group of law enforcement officers, EMS personnel, and security professionals.  These public safety cyclists operate their equipment under a wide range of environmental conditions, from rocky trails to urban settings, and in all kinds of weather.  IPMBA teaches the skills necessary to safely operate a bicycle in a patrol capacity.  As in other areas of public safety, different environments call for different apparatus; therefore, vehicle operations skills are designed to be transferable to other, similar vehicles.  As new bicycle designs continue to emerge, IPMBA has been asked to broaden the scope of bicycle styles deemed acceptable for IPMBA training and recommended for use during public safety cycling operations.  This position paper was reviewed and approved by the IPMBA Board in October 2017. 


Since the emergence of the mountain bike in the late 1980’s, IPMBA has taken the position that the mountain bike is the sole style of bicycle suitable for public safety use.  This was necessary and appropriate at a time when there was a clear distinction between categories of bicycles (road, mountain, hybrid, cruiser), and the mountain bike was the only practical option due to its design and construction. 

In the ensuing decades, new categories of bicycles have emerged and have blurred the lines of the initial distinctions.  Many of these are tailored to meet specific types of riding, many of which did not exist in the 1980’s including cyclo-cross, enduro, and downhill, and possess such features as electric-assist motors and fat tires. 

Those responsible for vehicle selection are urged to assess such factors as riding surface, the frequency and duration of rides, type of riding, weather, and other environmental factors.  The wide range of options available enables them to select the design and technologies that best suit their area of usage.    

IPMBA has long encouraged its members to remain open-minded and to experiment with new accessories and components in an effort to increase safety, comfort, and effectiveness.  However, IPMBA has historically been more cautious about embracing changes to the bicycle itself.      


In light of the ongoing evolution of the bicycle, IPMBA hereby authorizes participants in IPMBA training to ride any bicycle that meets their agency’s needs and that can be safely used to complete the training requirements, with the following provisions.

As noted above, those responsible for equipment selection and procurement are encouraged to conduct a needs assessment that includes such factors as operational environment, riding style, frequency, etc.  They are encouraged to consult subject matter experts within the public safety and cycling industries to help ensure they make the right choices. 

IPMBA Instructors are responsible for ensuring that each student is equipped with a well-maintained, properly fitted bicycle and for evaluating the safety of all bikes prior to the start of each course.  These assessments are to identify obvious equipment problems that may jeopardize the safety of the operator.  Instructors should refer to the IPMBA ITK for further instruction on Bike Fit (Skill Station 2) and allow time for screening and sizing student bikes in the applicable course schedule.

If a bicycle is found to be poorly constructed or maintained, ill-fitting or otherwise unsafe, it is the instructor’s responsibility to prohibit use of the bike in training.  It is the student’s responsibility to heed the advice of the subject matter expert and either withdraw or locate a more suitable bike. 

Instructors are not, nor should they be expected to be, experts in bicycle construction or knowledgeable about all makes and models.  However, instructors are advised to familiarize themselves with different types of bicycles and their advantages, limitations, and effects on cycling skills.  This will help instructors maintain confidence in their ability to teach skills to those utilizing different types of bicycles.  It will also enable them to provide advice to those in the equipment selection process. 

IPMBA teaches the skills needed to operate a bicycle safely within a front-line service environment.  We embrace technological changes and encourage agencies to select bicycles that best suit their service environment.  It remains the responsibility of the IPMBA instructor to ensure that each rider masters all skills necessary to successfully complete the training requirements so they will be able to handle their individual bicycles competently in technical, vehicular, and operational cycling situations.

Revision Date:  October 24, 2017

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  • Mike Palmeri

    Interesting article.  Hopefully in the future we can try the pedal assist bikes.  The weight of the bikes seems to be the draw back at this time.  Question? Would any of the manufacturers show up at the IPMBA conference in St, Louis.  The possibility of a Bike demo to check out the performance of pedal assist bikes.  Curious to learn about any advanced gear bag placement as well. 

    Thx Mike.

    11:20am, 12/26/2017
  • M Trujillo

    So glad to see this put out there.  Finally!  No time like the present.  As an instructor (who is also a student to the craft), I would humbly advise instructors review the portions of their curriculum where this position paper has impact, research lots, ride lots, and be a modest, yet well versed presenter.  Well written position paper.  Thanks to the board & the authors.

    12:22pm, 12/26/2017
  • Kyle Roodberg

    I think this sounds very reasonable. Thank you.

    04:16pm, 12/26/2017
  • Maureen Becker

    Check out the conference workshop lineup at http://ipmba.org/conference/schedule-and-program.  One of the sessions is called “eMTBs:  To Use or Not to Use for Public Safety Cycling”.  This session will include presentations and demonstrations of eBikes.  Several companies which market eBikes have also verbally committed to attend.  We look forward to seeing you there as well.

    08:46am, 12/27/2017
  • Rance Okada

    I know of an agency that does much of its bicycle patrol in the national forest - mountainous, hilly, single-track and fire roads.  Their bike cops will eventually show up at my PCC with fatties -MTBs with 4” tires. 
    I need to get smart about fatties before they show up at my PCC.  To get smart, I’ll need to ride every ITK skill station on a fattie. 
    Does any instructor have experience at their PCC/SCC/EMSCC with a student riding a fattie?

    11:08am, 01/01/2018

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