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Just Like Riding a Bike: IC Hosts Police Bicycle Training

Written by Nicole Ogrysko

Maneuvering the tight corners of the obstacle course

If "it's as easy as riding a bike," then navigating a maze of tightly placed construction cones and jumping a staircase shouldn't be difficult, right? 

But it's not as simple as it seems at Ithaca College's Annual Law Enforcement Bike School, where about 20 police and campus safety officers spend a week using the campus's hills, stairs, and winding paths as a training ground to practice cycling techniques, takedown procedures, and bike handling skills on tricky obstacle courses and off-road trails. 

The course, now in its 19th year at IC, was written by members of local police departments in the area and a public safety officer from Ithaca College, and the curriculum is used to teach law enforcement officers statewide. 

"This is a state wide program that was basically written right here in Ithaca and one of our sergeants helped develop it," says David Dray, assistant director and deputy chief of IC Public Safety. "That’s what we’re very proud of, and that’s why we keep doing this training year after year to help out the state and to show Ithaca College’s pride."

The course itself is more challenging than it might seem, and it isn't all about speed. During the obstacle courses, trainees learned how to ride their bikes at a very slow speed while weaving in and out of tightly placed construction cones and maintaining control at the same time. To master biking up and down stairs, officers practiced riding on a set of stacked pallets. 

Another aspect of the course put the trainees off campus, where they rode through the Commons and to Stewart Park to learn to manage different environments on a bike, from the college campus to a more urban setting. By the end of the week, officers are versed in handling day and nighttime situations in a variety of different settings — all on a bicycle.

Having more bike-trained officers is not only more economically efficient and sustainable for police departments statewide, but it also helps public safety officers seem more open, says Dray. 

"You’re out on a bike, you’re more approachable, you’re not in a vehicle, and you’ve taken away that barrier," he says. "That’s the part I like about it most."



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