Local ‘bike patrol’ back on the streets

FAIRMONT – From helping enforce bicycle safety and traffic laws, to being accessible to citizens, the summer bike patrol hopes to help.

“We have made cuts, and we have two less officers than we have in the past,” said Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma. “So there hasn’t been much extra enforcement.”

Through an internship program, police have two bike patrol officers for the summer. A part-time officer, Paul Fordice, along with Dylan Post, will be out not only to enforce laws, but to make themselves accessible.

“Being on a bike, and not in a car, you see and hear more,” Fordice said. “I like being able to get out in the community and talking to more people … The ability to be on the trails in the parks, we can access places you don’t in a vehicle.”

Fordice has been with the Fairmont Police Department for one year, while Post is studying law enforcement in college.

“They will be doing some enforcement patrols for pedestrian and bicycle safety,” Brolsma said. “We have at least two bike accidents a year, and we have been pretty lucky there have been no serious injuries or a fatality. It’s important that bicyclists take responsibility for bike safety and we need to also remind parents to drive that home to their children.”

“Especially since there is an increase in distracted driving, because people are always looking at their phones,” Fordice added. “Drivers are distracted, children don’t always look before darting out or staying to the right side of the road when in traffic. That’s a big risk for them being hit.”

Another point Fordice and Post will be enforcing is bicyclists obeying the same traffic laws as motorists.

“We see a lot failing to stop or yield,” Fordice said. “We talk about obeying traffic roles. We like having contact with kids in those incidents, because they don’t get the risks until something bad happens.”

There is also reminding all bicyclists about bike ordinances in Fairmont.

“In the downtown area, bikes can be on the streets, but not on the sidewalks,” Brolsma said. “Other things such as scooters, skateboards, those are not allowed in the downtown area at all. We need to raise that understanding.”

“One of our primary goals is to increase helmet use, because that is something we’re seeing, the majority of kids on bikes are without helmets. We can promote bike safety with these community contacts.”

“While it’s not legally required, it’s strongly encouraged because even a slow speed bike accident can lead to injury or death,” Brolsma added.