Britain’s senior police officers were in danger of becoming a laughing stock last night after it emerged that they plan to give officers a 93-page guide showing them how to ride a bike. However although its length and the language used in the guide have been held up to mockery at least one highly respected cycle safety expert says it probably isn't long enough.
The two-volume Police Cycle Training Doctrine, drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Oficers and due to be rolled out nationwide on a mandatory basis, has been seen by the Sun newspaper which says it includes advice such as how to stop and get off the bike safely, and not tackling suspects while still “engaged with the bicycle.”
In its editorial today, the newspaper points out that "the Bible takes less than one page to account for God's creation of the universe. And the original of the American Constitution is just four pages long."
Officers reading the manual will also learn how to apply their brakes and the art of avoiding obstacles including kerbs and rocks. Helpful diagrams include one showing “deployment into a junction” – that’s turning left or right to you and me.
They will also be told of the need to “rear scan” – in other words, look behind them. All of which will hopefully help them safely proceed in an easterly, or whichever, direction.
Other helpful advice includes wearing padded shorts to ensure “in-saddle comfort" as well as the need to take enough food and water on board.
And it’s not just uniformed officers who are the target of the guide. Undercover officers are advised that they may have to do away with a helmet to avoid being spotted, but the guide cautions: "This lack of protection must be noted and a full risk assessment of the required role to be undertaken."
Mark Wallace, campaign director at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, told the Sun: "This is an absurd waste of police time and thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money.
"Police officers are perfectly capable of riding a bike,” he added. “It's no wonder we haven't enough on the beat if they are having to spend time and energy wading through this nonsense."
The newspaper also quoted a Home Office source, who said: "Most of the red tape the police complain about is actually created by the cops themselves. This is a particularly bad example."
An ACPO spokeswoman told the paper: "This guidance may have been drawn up by ACPO but we haven't fully approved it yet."
A short time later they added, "“It was put forward by a group of well meaning police officers with an interest in this area. ACPO will not be taking it forward.” Thus shooting the story down in flames.
The police cycling guide that never was might have been the subject of some knockabout fun from the Sun and some predictable venting from the Taxpayer's Alliance but it did have a serious aim. indeed at least one cycle training expert reckons that it probably isn't long enough. Speaking on the Today programme on R4, Dave Holladay who has advised the Strathclyde Police on the need for cycling training pointed out that police cyclists needed to be cycling "exemplars" doing everything with a high level of skill and proficiency and should be trained to the same standard as a Class 1 police driver or motorcyclist.
Mr Holladay also noted that the training manual for US MTB mounted police squads was longer and while nobody but ACPO and the Sun have read the manual in question the picture in the paper makes it look more like a Power Point presentation than 93 pages of closely worded text.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.