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LAPD experiments with electric bicycles

May 12, 2011 | 10:03 am

LAPDebike The Los Angeles Police Department received two new electric bicycles Wednesday. The bicycles are part of a field test the Police Department is conducting.

Electric bicycles are being tested for patrolling special events, including parades and the monthly bicycle ride Critical Mass, "where the public is riding road bikes that are faster," said Sgt. Matthew Bygum, the officer in charge of the LAPD bicycle coordination unit. "When the police officers ride mountain bikes, we can't stay up with them over the duration of the ride. That's the direction we're headed with these: high speed, long duration."

The two bikes the LAPD received Wednesday complement two others the department has been testing as part of a pilot program for the last year. The iZip Express models donated by Currie Technologies, an electric bicycle manufactuer in Chatsworth, can travel 31 miles per charge and move as quickly as 20 mph.

The LAPD has 450 regular bicycles in its fleet, all of which are mountain bikes. Electric bicycles will not replace the mountain bikes, Bygum said.

"I wouldn't want all LAPD officers riding them because part of being an officer is being physically fit, so it takes away some of the physical conditioning required," Bygum said. "Electric bikes just give us another capability."


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-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Sgt. Matthew Bygum rides an electric bike. Credit: Claudia Morimitsu, Currie Technologies