Nothing portrays an image of the UK better than a British Bobby on a bicycle. Road safety is all about visibility, and believe me the police officers you see in the picture above were extremely visable.
It used to be a requirement in the British police that applicants be at least six feet tall; add the tall helmet to that and they would appear to be nearer seven feet. Then sit them on the good old British “Sit up and beg” roadster bike, that the average person would need a step ladder to mount, and they would stand out in traffic like a Willie Nelson tour bus.
Many was the time in the 1950s when I’d be out training at night with the local chain gang, and one of the group would be sure to have a dead battery in his tail light, the local Bobby would chase us down on his big old Raliegh "All-Steel" bike with a Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub gear.
You can imagine my dismay when I recently came across this image (Left.) of a modern British police officer on a bike.
My first reaction was, “WTF do you look like?” Everything I loved about my homeland is slowly disintegrating. The British Bobby has become “Euro-Fred.”
Gone is the authority figure; he looks like a Mall Food Court Janitor, or a Parking Lot Attendant on his way home from work. And where did they get the helmet? Wal-Mart or Halfords?
This is the British Police for Cris’sakes, couldn’t they design something purpose built that offers protection and a little dignity.
These images came with a story in the British, Sun Newspaper, about a young police officer, killed while on duty on his bike, when he was stuck by a lorry. (Heavy flat bed truck or box van.)
I do not want to make light of this tragic incident, but the reaction by the Manchester, UK police department, was to ban police officers from riding bikes, until they can receive more training. That pisses me off; how about banning drivers who don’t know how to overtake cyclists without running them over.
Britain is apparently spending millions of taxpayer’s money on promoting cycling in big cities to ease congestion and to fight obesity, both of which will cost taxpayers even more in the long run.
By banning police officers from riding, the Manchester Police are sending out a message that cycling is dangerous. If a police officer is not safe on a bike, what hope for the rest of us, is what most people must be thinking.
I just hope they don’t have a terrorist attack or an armed robbery in Manchester, because the police there might just say, “Hey, that’s too dangerous, we can’t handle that.”
I must agree with the Sun Newspaper, the police authorities are wrong on this one. There has been a tragic loss of a young life, one of their own, and they are not facing the real problem. A few sloppy, selfish, drivers who have a complete disregard for human life.
They should be using this tragic waste of a young life to arouse public outrage and awareness of bicycles on the road, and push for harsher penalties for reckless and inattentive drivers who kill cyclists. Like revoking their license and forcing them to ride a bike.