Boston Police Tested Some New Wheels During the Marathon

A donor gave the department never-before-tested electric bikes specifically for race day.

Image via Boston Police Department

Image via Boston Police Department

Police presence wasn’t the only thing that was beefed up on Marathon Monday. BPD officers got the chance to test out new bikes that haven’t hit the market yet while monitoring large groups of spectators near the finish line.

Thanks to a donation from Boston native Bradley Birkenfeld, six electric bikes that can reach speeds of up to 30 mph were made available to police at the 118th Boston Marathon. Known as “VBikes,” the crowd-control units were created by Vision Industries, and were first rolled out and unveiled to the public during a recent Homeland Security Expo held prior to the marathon.

Birkenfeld, who was in the area of the Forum Restaurant when one of the bombs exploded last year, wanted to do something to help police keep a watchful eye on the area this time around. “The bikes allowed me the chance to do just that,” Birkenfield said in a statement.

Meant to increase officers’ mobility as the swell of the crowd expanded on race day, the bikes also feature some other perks that police can’t find on their regular two-wheeled patrol vehicles. Strapped to the previously untested electric VBikes are 500 Watt motors, allowing officers to hit higher speeds without excessive pedaling. The bikes are twice the speed of an ordinary bike and are interchangeable, so if the battery dies out, police can simply switch back to just pedaling. The VBikes also feature what’s described as an “ear-piercing” siren and loud speakers, so officers can get crowds cleared in the event that they need to pass through with urgency.

There’s no immediate word on whether the department will be using the bikes post-marathon, but officials plan to review the option and consider future orders. Boston requested additional information from the department about the use of the bikes, but did not immediately receive a reply.

According to Vision Industries, the company intends to make the VBike available for law enforcement agencies and private security firms across the country real soon. The Boston police Department was the first agency to ever make use of the electric bikes. The suggested retail price for a bike is $2,499. Boston’s officers didn’t have to spend a dime, however.