Deputy London Eubanks said the hardest part of learning how to patrol by bicycle is the art of balance.
“Falls happen,” the instructor said Friday on the final day of the Community Oriented Public Safety course that certifies officers and emergency responders for bike patrol.
When John Smith, with Gold Cross, first saw the course made up of yellow cones he needed to master, he said he felt a little uneasy.
“It’s a little challenging at first to think you have to ride through a 9-foot square,” Smith said.
Circling in a small coned-off area without falling is just one of the challenges the 11 students faced during the weeklong course.
Participants included officers from Fort Gordon, Waynesboro Police Department, Medical College of Georgia Public Safety and sheriff’s offices in Richmond and Columbia counties. Gold Cross EMS also sent three responders.
While most agencies are combating crime, Gold Cross responders use their biking skills for large events such as the Westobou Festival, boat races, outdoor concerts or the Augusta Market.
Waynesboro Public Safety is the only agency that does not have a bike patrol. Officer Xavier Wimberly will be one of its first bicycle officers.
He said the most difficult part of the week was getting used to the longevity of staying on a bike and using muscles that haven’t been used in a while.
“It’s been great but it’s been hard,” Wimberly said.
Students also learned fast braking techniques, biking with traffic and new shooting techniques.
The bike not only exposes them to the elements but also more danger.
Eubanks, one of four instructors, said many subjects that officers are originally trained for have to be revisited when a vehicle is not present.
“The safety awareness is extremely different in a car,” he said.
The students spent a portion of one day learning how to fire a weapon without the protection of a vehicle.