To read this content please select one of the options below:

Bicycle patrols: an underutilized resource

Chris Menton (Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to provide information on the activities of police bicycle patrols.


A participant/observation research design was used. A five‐city, 32‐shift study on the output of police bicycle patrols was conducted. Same and similar ride‐alongs were conducted with bicycle and automobile patrols. All contacts (n=1,105) with the public were recorded and coded. These data included: number of people, tenor, seriousness and origination for each contact.


Analysis of these data provides evidence that bicycle patrols result in over twice as much contact with the public compared with automobile patrols. The field observation perspective revealed clear tactical advantages to bicycle patrols.

Research limitations/implications

With a limited prior study of a police bicycle patrol's activities, this study is a significant initial step.

Practical implications

With evidence of tactical and numerical public contact advantages, more attention and resources aimed at deployment of police bicycle patrols appear to be warranted.


With large US cities and other departments using bicycle patrols, preliminary information on effectiveness appears to be both original and of value.



Menton, C. (2008), "Bicycle patrols: an underutilized resource", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 93-108.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles