Downtown Alliance security guards to patrol on electric bikes


BY John Bayles

Those red-coat-wearing, friendly security guards patrolling the streets of downtown everyday will now be doing so on new, electric bikes. The Downtown Alliance has announced a pilot program that aims to reduce the carbon footprints of its public safety officers and better serve the neighborhood.

“Our 57-person public safety staff is truly the eyes and ears of Lower Manhattan,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance. “Now, it will be much easier for them to get around the narrow streets of our district, and they can do it in a much more energy-efficient way.”

The origin of the initiative, according to Berger, comes from the Alliance’s commitment to constantly evaluate its patrol strategy.

“We want to see how we can best provide supplemental security in Lower Manhattan,” said Berger.

Previously, the Alliance would send patrol cars to the busiest corridors and then send foot patrol officers to the less heavily trafficked areas. Other vehicles would occasionally supplement the foot patrol.

Now, Berger said they’ve found a way to save energy and money and provide higher efficiency of service for the community. The Alliance will still maintain a fleet of patrol cars, but thanks to the new electric bikes, that fleet will decrease by four. If the pilot program is successful, more bikes could be on the way.

According to a press release issued by the Alliance, the “difference between an electric bike and other electric-powered, two-wheeled vehicles is that an e-bike can be pedaled without motor power. Additionally, most e-bikes have a longer wheelbase than standard bicycles and only eight gears, with the motor providing the extra assistance.”

The bikes weigh 56 pounds and are essentially weather-proof. The fact that they’re electric makes it much easier for the security guards to pedal uphill. The bikes need six to eight hours to charge and will then run for five hours, regardless of how far they travel.

The move to a greener form of public safety drew applause from Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a local nonprofit seeking to transform New York City’s “transportation priorities.”

“We applaud the Downtown Alliance for upgrading to more a city-friendly form of getting around,” said White. “They’re proving that you can do business and provide essential services in New York City on two wheels.”