POLICE officers are saddling up for community safety after receiving 20 push bikes from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC).

The authority bought the bikes for Cheshire Police as part of a joint campaign aimed at helping officers to better cover their neighbourhood beats.

The bikes – which have been purchased through CWAC’s local sustainable transport fund programme (LSTF) – will help police to be more accessible to communities and will also be used to help reduce bike crime in Ellesmere Port and Chester.

It is hoped the scheme will increase public confidence in the area, whether it be travelling to work or for leisure.

Work has also been carried out to provide cycle lock ups, educate cyclists and an innovative micro-chipping scheme has been implemented to reduce bike thefts.

The dedicated patrol bikes are also used to provide a positive visible presence on the many cycle routes and canal paths to increase public confidence and deter antisocial behaviour and crime.

Lynn Riley, CWAC’s executive member for localities, said: “This is a very important initiative that builds on our cycling strategy.

“We are hoping to get more people on their bikes travelling confidently and safely to and from work, and I welcome the increased visibility of police officers on bikes to help promote safety.”

“A great deal of planning has taken place and the council has also completed an audit of crime hotspots and areas lacking in secure cycle parking and they will soon be fitted out with adequate provision.”

PC Dan Reynolds added: “The project has enabled us to equip front line police officers from the Chester and Ellesmere Port areas with specifically designed patrol bikes so that they can be seen and be even more effective in their role as it allows us to get in and patrol areas that are simply not easily accessible in a patrol car.

“On the bikes we can engage with people, swiftly cover a wider area and the reception from the public has been great as they tell us that they feel we are more approachable. It is also part of our drive to use green alternatives and keeps us fit and healthy too.”