03 April 2009

Copenhagen Police Bicycle Unit

As strange as it may sound, Copenhagen just got a police bicycle unit last week. Why we haven't had one before is beyond me. There was a media frenzy about it and the 8 officers paraded about town in the sunshine, showing themselves off.

Many other cities in Europe have had bike units for ages and ages, so it it about time that we joined the crowd.

My mate Theis saw them and snapped these photos. The cyclist above ran a red light. Boy, did he pick a bad day to do that. Two of the cops, including the blonde, set out after him and pulled him over.

They didn't give him a ticket - you can't hand out tickets on your first day for heaven's sake, that's just not cricket - but instead let him off with a smile.

The photo reminds me of a passage in a travel writing book by Bill Bryson called Neither Here Nor There, where he travels through Europe. He loved Copenhagen, and was convinced that we send our elderly and ugly people away during the summer. On the City Hall Square he saw some rowdy, drunk teens get apprehended by the police, including a sweet, blonde officer. He went over and asked the cop what would happen to the kids.

She said they'd take them to the station and call their parents, who would take care of it. "We were all young once", she added with a smile. That left an impression on Bill Bryson.

It'll be cool to see the bicycle cops - cykelstrisser - on the streets this summer. At time of going to press, there was no word on whether the beat cops and those driving in cars would ALSO be required to wear helmets, but that would be logical considering the risk of head injury for pedestrians and motorists.

Of course, of course, in Holland, where common sense prevails, the police on bicycles look a bit different. Thanks to Marc from Amsterdamize.

The bicycle cops here in Copenhagen will patrol in the city centre and the Vesterbro neighbourhood for a year, after which there will be a review to decide if they will continue.