Friday, July 11, 2008

Bicycle Versus Segway in Law Enforcement

More and more law enforcement is realizing the limitations of a car in patrolling dense urban areas, especially during special high traffic events. Tight spaces and high levels of motor and pedestrian traffic render cars useless, and going on foot highly limits ground coverage.

This has led to more agencies adopting bike patrol officers, usually sporting rugged black mountain bikes, ideal for hopping curbs and pursuing subjects on mixed terrain. In more recent years however, advances in electronic people movers, namely the Segway, have been replacing the role of the bicycle in police transportation. Is this really an improvement?

Lets analyze the Segway against some human powered alternatives using the lovely bullet point feature:
  • Top speed of Segway : 12 MPH
    • Heavy and cumbersome, they have trouble getting over high curbs.
  • Typical speed of a skirt wearing cyclist on a beach cruiser: 5-10 MPH
    • Add 2-4 MPH if an attractive boy is ahead
  • Me on inline skates: 10-16MPH with ability to surpass 20 in a sprint
    • Able to jump over obstacles and make tight maneuvers, but use is limited to paved surface
  • Typical speed of mountain bike : 10-16 MPH with potential to sprint at 20+
    • Able to hop curbs and other small urban obstacles
    • Ideal on or off the pavement
  • Typical speed of road bike : 14-18 MPH with sprinting speeds over 25 MPH
    • Fast but poor traction off pavement, and poor handling at slow speeds.
* The numbers for bike speed are based on realistic speeds for an officer in decent shape, these are not my speeds, which would of course be much faster.

Speed is not everything, here are some other things to consider;
  • Brand new pursuit mountain bike for police patrol : $500
  • Brand new Segway: $5000+
  • Cycling promotes cardiovascular health and leg strength of officers.
  • Segways promote leaning forward.
So you decide, are Segways for law enforcement worth your tax money?


Maulie said...

of COURSE your numbers would be faster on a bike.

those rollerblade numbers are impressive too.

but you have to admit, the segway ninjas look like the FUTURE

Alex Thompson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Thompson said...

I'll add to this that in many situations your feet are the best and most versatile solution. They don't have problems with barriers and sustain pretty good speeds . . . and they keep you approachable - a key feature of community policing.

Yes - one tires more quickly on their feet. Still, I can travel 9mph for hours on foot, and sprint 20mph - certainly better than the segway when you consider mobility. SMPD only asks their recruits to cover 1 mile in 12 minutes, a speed of 5mph, only 25% faster than a brisk walk. Are we asking to little of our law enforcement in terms of physical fitness?