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Vancouver cyclists demand police 'pedal power'

The Province: Vancouver cyclists demand police ’pedal power’

BY FRANK LUBA, THE PROVINCE  FEBRUARY 4, 2010

A group of Vancouver cyclists want more police to give up their cop cars — and patrol on two wheels instead of four.

Cyclists in the city have been accused of civil disobedience for staging periodic Friday afternoon Critical Mass rides that disrupt traffic — but a report going to Vancouver council Thursday from its bicycle advisory committee paints a law-and-order image of cyclists.

It calls for a full-time police bike squad.

Although there will be more officers on bicycles during the Olympics, Chief Jim Chu says he’s not in favour of reinstituting the bike squad.

"The VPD will not be implementing a full-time bike unit following the Olympics," Chu says in the report.

Instead, officers on bikes will remain spread throughout the city’s four districts and used when deemed necessary.

The bikes are particularly effective downtown, where cars can get blocked by gridlock, construction and one-way streets or narrow alleys.

Rob Wynen, vice-chair of the bicycle advisory committee, fears there will be even fewer cops on bikes after the Olympics.

"One of our concerns especially is that as [they] start to pedestrianize the downtown core and build more bike facilities, bikes are going to become more and more of a necessity for the police department," he said.

Coun. Geoff Meggs is the council liaison with the bike committee and supports the idea of a bike squad.

But he doesn’t think council can put the squad into motion by passing a motion.

"All we can do is ask [Chu] to consider it," said Meggs.

Council does have the power to act on another report, one from staff recommending installation of a bike lane on the Dunsmuir Viaduct after the Olympics conclude.

The lane, on the north side of the viaduct, would use road space that has been closed for some time because of construction.

The lane would be the first of separated bike lanes downtown that would eventually connect with the Burrard Bridge bike lane.