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Policing the Streets on Two Feet or Two Wheels

October 21, 2011

New "green" police cars in the pedestrian-only zone on the Campidoglio (foto: da RondoneR,

Yesterday the city purchased 14 new electric police cars as part of its sustainable mobility initiative.  Interesting, and perhaps a step in the right direction.  But from a practical point of view I have to ask if this is the best use of limited city funds.  I haven’t been able to find data on the cost but these things are not cheap.  Perhaps Citroen offered a good deal in exchange for being allowed to use the pedestrian zone outside the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome’s historical center as their auto showroom this week.  The same day the city was shut down by a couple of hours of rain because the drains hadn’t been cleaned out and the streets are constantly clogged with cars and debris, it didn’t seem wise to announce new expenditures on more police cars.  After all, they’ll just be stuck in the traffic with everyone else.

Why not send out foot patrols instead, or at most invest 1/10th of the money in 10 times as many bicycles?  Not only would the police be much more mobile, able to respond more quickly to calls, they would be more prone to deal with the many problems faced by citizens. Instead of driving past the car on the crosswalk, ignoring the citizens trapped behind it, they might actually fine and tow. Instead of risking injury to pedestrians by piloting tons of metal through crowded streets they would move safely among them.

Google the words “bicycle police” followed by any city in the world and you will most likely come up with images of an efficient modern police force using cheap, high-tech, green transportation.  When will these images pop up for Rome?


London Police

Paris Police

Barcelona Police

Washington Police

* (A special thanks to the Rome-based blog for reminding me to credit their image above.  I almost always use my own photos but got lazy this time. Also, my apologies to the authors of the little photos above which I quickly pulled off of a variety of websites without thinking to note the source;  if it’s a problem I’ll replace them with ones I can cite)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2011 08:03

    Complimenti per l’articolo!

    Attiro l’attenzione sul mio commento riportato a margine di quello pubblicato in data odierna su (si veda il link, che riporto nel seguito:

    Ritengo che, al posto delle auto elettriche, lo Stato del Vaticano dovrebbe dotare la sua gendarmeria di biciclette a pedalata assistita.
    Per le dimensioni di quello Stato sarebbe certamente sufficiente che i gendarmi si muovessero con il solo “cavallo di San Francesco” (che poi sarebbe il mezzo di locomozione ecologico ed evangelico per eccellenza), ma almeno l’uso delle biciclette a pedalata assistita non darebbe adito al sospetto che qualcuno sia interessato solo ai profitti della politica verde.
    Sarebbe infatti preferibile limitare il sospetto di un “poco accorto utilizzo delle risorse” alla sola “laica” amministrazione capitolina ( Non credete?


  2. barigeorge permalink
    October 24, 2011 01:03

    You’re absolutely right, Tom. In congested areas, police on bicycles get where they need to go faster and communicate more (period) with pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Like all things bicycle, it’s low investment and high return. Hoping to see more of our Newport traffic police on bicycles. We’d be much more effective at getting folks to share the road according to the rules – the first step toward getting more people out of their cars and onto bicycles. Enjoying your inspiring blog 🙂



  1. Auto elettriche alla polizia urbana. Sono la soluzione più adatta? | Nuova Mobilità

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