In Berlin, more police officers on bicycles are now monitoring the streets. They are supposed to make sure cyclists are safe in the German capital, by protecting them from motorists and from themselves.
Berlin, March 29th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — For seven years, cops on bicycles have been on their way on the streets of Berlin. Last year, the Berlin Police Department more than doubled the number of bike squad members from 20 to 43. Some of them must have dropped out since because there are only 34 left. But they now have 54 new colleagues in a newly created bike patrol, meaning, as of today, there are 88 bike cops in Berlin.
All Over Berlin
There is one single difference between the bike squad and the bike patrol: While the squad is mainly responsible for Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Neukölln, two huge districts located closer to Berlin’s two city centers, the patrol looks at police precincts 1 to 4 in Berlin’s north, west, east and south. Some of the 54 officers on two wheels that officially became bike patrol members started this job in January, but most came in more recently. All of them asked to be part of the endeavor, meaning nobody was forced to swap police cars with automatic transmissions, roofs and A/Cs with bicycles that do not have any of these amenities.
On Monday, the 54 bike patrol cops presented themselves in front of an interesting backdrop, namely in front of Berlin’s giant Olympic Stadium which was erected by Nazi Germany for the 1936 Games. Interior Senator Andreas Geisel and Police Chief Barbara Slowik talked to the patrol members and had countless pictures taken with them in the early afternoon.
“Safety and protection for all traffic participants plays a big role”, Geisel stated. “In this regard, the bike squad has stood the test. With the additional bike patrol, we will be present in the suburbs too, as of right now.” The Senator said the enlarged team would actively contribute to improving traffic safety in Berlin.
The German capital’s Police Chief Barbara Slowik agreed. “I am glad we are continuing and extending our successful project with the bike patrol outside the city center”, she said today. Just like the squad, the patrol would be a gain for the city and it would improve Berlin’s image. Chief Slowik announced, the number of officers on bikes would double again until 2023. This way, the police is adapting to the changing traffic situation. More and more bikes appear on Berlin’s 9,500 streets.
On Eye Level
For the Berlin Police Department, Oliver Woitzik told The Berlin Spectator, the cops on bikes would communicate with Berlin’s cyclists “on eye level”. They would take action against motorists whose actions endangered cyclists. At the same time, they are supposed to make sure the cyclists adhere to the traffic rules as well. “They are well trained”, Woitzik stated. It looks like there is no escaping from the bike squad or the bike patrol. With their yellow vests, they cannot be overlooked either.
In 2020, 17 to 19 cyclists (depending on the definition) were killed on the streets of Berlin. In nine cases, trucks or other big vehicles that made right turns caused those accidents. The same kind of accident happened twice this month. Two cyclists were run over and died. Police Chief Barbara Slowik is hoping the new bike cops will contribute to decreasing the number of deadly accidents.
The Berlin Police Department employs more than 25,000 people. Because of their special tasks in the capital, they often get help from the Federal Police and from Police Departments from other federal states. For instance, the government and the Bundestag need to be protected. Some 5,000 protests take place in Berlin every year. Besides, Berlin is Germany’s largest city.