Bicyclists in Blue

Los Angeles has up to 250 active bike cops, with 1,500 more officers certified by the LAPD. Sergeant David Krummer is the acting liaison to the cycling community

Illustration by Jason Scheider

Why bike cops?
Perpetrators can see a patrol car coming and hide, but a bike cop can roll right in the middle of a drug deal and make the arrest. Areas with large pedestrian populations—skid row, the fashion district—are best patrolled by bikes. We write more citations than average officers. The most common citation is for narcotics, followed by public drunkenness and pedestrian violations like jaywalking.

If bike cops are so effective, why aren’t there more of them?
L.A. is very spread out, with only a few dense sections. Areas like the Valley are better covered by patrol cars, which can get from point A to point B much more quickly. Also, hills are a problem, which is why there are no bikes patrolling Rampart, the division around MacArthur Park. The climbing gets an officer too out of breath, which compromises his police work. It’s hard to think clearly when your chest is heaving and your hands are sweaty.

Why aren’t bike cops in better shape?
It’s not that, it’s the weight of our gear. We start with a heavy mountain bike and add five pounds to the handlebars, which have a $1,500 light bar, siren, and battery system. Add a rack and trunk bag for our ticket book and incidentals. On top of that we carry 25 pounds of stuff on our bodies.

How much training is involved in becoming a bike cop?
We run a five-day, 40-hour bicycle police course, with extensive focus on slow-speed drills like going down steep stairs and staying upright in very tight quarters. It is not fun and games. More officers get injured in bike-cop school than in any other police training.