Teddy Roosevelt and the Foundation of the NYC Bike Patrol [PHOTOS]

Posted on: September 27th, 2013 at 11:26 am by

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December 1895 with Teddy Roosevelt; Photo: nyc.gov

Police on bikes is nothing new. In fact, the first squad of twenty-nine officers on the beat (“The Scorcher Squad”) was established in December 1895 to apprehend speeding horse-drawn carriages. The order was enacted by then-newly-appointed NYC police commish Teddy Roosevelt. Within its first year of existence, the crew would eventually grow to one hundred “wheelers,” collectively responsible for 1,366 arrests.

In his autobiography, Roosevelt wrote:

The members of the bicycle squad, which was established shortly after we took office, soon grew to show not only extraordinary proficiency on the wheel, but extraordinary daring. They frequently stopped runaways, wheeling alongside of them, and grasping the horses while going at full speed; and, what was even more remarkable, they managed not only to overtake but to jump into the vehicle and capture, on two or three different occasions, men who were guilty of reckless driving, and who fought violently in resisting arrest. They were picked men, being young and active, and any feat of daring which could be accomplished on the wheel they were certain to accomplish.

The following photograph was shot in 1899, showing more of “New York’s bicycle policemen.”

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Bike Patrol in 1899, Photo: NYPL

And this is a view of the bike patrol today…

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Delancey Street, February 2012

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