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Eyes on the Street: Biking the Beat

4:10 PM EDT on September 1, 2011

Last week we shared a pic from reader Moocow, who spotted a traffic enforcement agent on two wheels in the South Slope. Today Dave "Paco" Abraham sent in this shot of a New York City police officer making the rounds on a bike.

Paco says that this officer left behind a trail of enhanced public safety as he cycled up through Midtown:

On Sixth Avenue... at 28th street or so, around 10:20 a.m. I came upon an NYPD officer biking his beat. It was thrilling and immediately brought both a smile and sense of calm to my commute. Not only was this officer getting a sense of frustrations and dangers every biker feels in nyc, he was in a position to change it. When a cabbie had inched across the intersection at 29th street and was then about to block the crosswalk... from his bike... he yelled to the driver "you're heading north now." It forced the driver to go uptown rather than cram into pedestrians who now had the walk signal. Then at the next intersection, as I had to swerve into traffic because cars were waiting in front of the hotel at 30th street, he stayed in the bike lane and cleared out each blocking vehicle.

I snapped this pic of him as he cruised up Sixth, between 35th and 36th, and wish I had a chance to give him a handshake and thank you. Without a doubt it was a surprise to see. Not only did it make me as a rider feel safer... I think it helped pedestrians immensely. Every morning, you cross the street and have to squeeze around or between cars that block the box and cause tie-ups in every direction. This officer didn't need his gun, handcuffs, or a squad car... all he needed was two wheels to make the street safer.

It seems rare these days to encounter cops on bikes, but they weren't always so few and far between. NYCHA police used to patrol housing projects on bikes, and under Lee Brown, who preceded Ray Kelly's first stint as police commissioner in the early 90s, NYPD tried out a "cops-on-bikes" community policing program on the Upper West Side.

No time wasted sitting in traffic, more face-to-face interaction with the people you serve, and lower vehicle maintenance and fuel costs -- what's not to like about scaling up NYPD bike patrols?

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