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Pedal patrol: In effort to save gas, Flowery Branch buys bicycles for officers
The Flowery Branch Police Department officers will be riding a 21-speed Shimano like this one. - photo by SARA GUEVARA


Hear Flowery Branch police officer Chris Banks talk about the benefits of starting bicycle patrols.

Add bike helmet to the Flowery Branch police uniform.

The department’s 13 officers, as well Chief Gerald Lanich, will be toting newly bought bicycles with them on patrols around the South Hall town.

Officers on bike patrols isn’t a new concept. "I think ours is a little bit different because we’re going to provide every officer a bicycle," Lanich said.

When time and opportunity allow during a 12-hour shift, officers will be parking their cars, pulling the bikes off racks on their cars and taking off on two-wheel patrols.

"That will give them the ability to meet with the community better and talk to (residents)," Lanich said. "At the same time, that gives down time for our patrol car in the gas issue."

Flowery Branch, like governments everywhere, is having to deal with rising fuel prices while carrying out public services.

The city spent $8,000 on the 14 bikes, with about half that amount coming from money taken in drug seizures. The city government funded the rest.

In addition, the supplier, Bike Town USA on Dawsonville Highway, was "able to help us with (lowering) the cost," Lanich said.

The 21-speed bikes have front-wheel brakes and front and rear lighting, and they come equipped with a water bottle and a back pack that contains first-aid items.

"I took one out for a ride (Wednesday), and it went great," Lanich said.

The bikes arrived earlier this week and were quickly issued to officers.

Officer Chris Banks, who has been with the department since January 2004, is eager to add the bike to his patrols.

"It’s a really, really interesting tool to be able to get closer to the community, actually be more face to face and also bridge certain bridges," Banks said. "A lot of times, people only see us when there’s something bad or tragic or criminal in nature.

"This allows us an opportunity to not only continue our patrol but to also become a little closer to the people we protect ... and they don’t look at us as just behind the wheel of what some people consider very intimidating black police cars."