In the Waterloo Region, we have police officers that ride bicycles around town. I have seen them frequently in the downtown core, but never in out-lying areas. This morning, as I turned right onto Bridgeport Road from Lancaster Street, another cyclist turned left onto Bridgeport, from the other direction on Lancaster Street. The other cyclist rode behind me for a bit, and I didn’t think much about it, until I heard his radio squawk. I turned my head to see a police officer and started chatting with him. I normally ride out in the lane, on multi-lane roads, to increase my visibility. He pulled up beside me, between me and the curb.
We had a nice chat all the way to Bluevale. I was a little shocked at how far bike cops ride. He said they usually ride about 80 km during a 12 hour shift, but that if they get caught up in a lengthy investigation, it could be a lot less. It would be interesting having a job that involved cycling, but I’d be disappointed if I was looking forward to an 80 km day and I ended up only getting to ride 5 or 10 kilometres. He also told me a little about how bike officers are deployed – special events, high crime areas, etc. He seemed to be a pretty fit cyclist. We maintained about a 30 km/hr pace. He was riding the standard issue Cannondale hybrid bike, with road tires and a lot of extra police gear. He had no real difficulty keeping up with my Surly road bike.
One thing that struck me, as he pulled away, was that he seemed to have no problem pulling up beside me and riding two-abreast. This is a bit of a contentious issue in our region currently. A few months ago, a couple of cyclists were struck by a vehicle pulling a trailer, while riding in a pace-line. The driver and the cyclists were both charged. One of the things the cyclists were charged with, was riding two-abreast, even though they were riding in a pace-line and not two-abreast. My personal opinion is that both pace-lines and riding two abreast should be allowed. Most cyclists, including at least one police officer, ride two-abreast at times.