The popularity of bicycling has reached an all-time high in this country both as a form of exercise and a form of transportation. The Lebanon Police Department has responded to the increased bicycle traffic on our local highway and byways with a two-wheeled task force of their own. Lebanon Police Captain, Timothy Cohen, heads up that division and notes that, while the number of bicycle patrolmen has increased, his two-wheeled patrol has been in existence since 2008. It is an elite group.
“You don’t just ask an officer to get aboard a bicycle and go on patrol,” Cohen explained. “If selected, the officer has to go through a rigorous 40-hour training session that is quite demanding. They face constant reviews of that training and are in excellent physical shape. During that training session, they have to ride 25-30 miles per day in all kinds of terrain including uphill courses on pavement and dirt.”
Three of the Lebanon “Road Warriors,” Nick Alden, Adam Leland and Greg Parthum, who have a combined 25 years experience on two wheels, all agree that it is a rewarding and unique way to serve and protect the community.
“I just love it. Great exercise and a way to stay in top physical condition. The best part for me, however, is being able to be out meeting the public and getting the opportunity to talk with the residents of Lebanon one-on-one.”
Captain Cohen could not agree more. The veteran officer pointed out that contact with the public was a key element in forming the roving patrols.
“Number one, it’s a great job for these officers and we really put an extra effort into putting them on the road. We really enjoy that dialogue with the public and hearing their concerns. It’s very important to get the feedback. Remember, these officers access places where a police cruiser cannot and can blend right in with the community at large.”
Officer Adam Leland feels his presence inspires the youth of Lebanon, as well.
“It gives me a great opportunity to stop and talk with the kids on a daily basis and I love that. It also gives me a chance to talk about and teach bike safety such as helmets, lights and the general rules that apply.” Leland said.
The co-existence between automobiles and bicycles on public highways has often been a contentious issue. Right-of-way issues along with rules of the road concerns are often misinterpreted. Captain Cohen was adamant on the subject.
“Everyone has to remember that the same traffic laws that apply to motorists apply to bicycle riders on the open highway and back roads. Stopping for red lights, stop signs and yielding the right of way all apply and carry the same penalty if ticketed. Bicycle riders also have to remember that they must have all the proper lights when riding at night.”
Off-road and trail riding are extremely popular in Lebanon with the establishment of the Northern Rail Trail, which starts in downtown where hordes of bikers arrive daily. That is where you are likely to meet up with Officer Greg Parthum.
“Riding along the Rail Trail is one of my favorite patrols.” Parthum said. “You really get an opportunity to stop and chat with many people from all over. I feel that public contact is very important as well.”