Downtown security is expanding again this summer from patrols on two feet to two wheels.
The annual bicycle patrol run by the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone is off and pedalling, after wrapping up three days of training with an objective to keep a particularly close eye on The Forks.
“The skate park here is something we need to pay attention to, as well as when there are a whole bunch of events at The Forks — those are something we’re going to have to attend quite often,” Wraylynn Black, the team’s supervisor, said on Wednesday at The Forks near the Scotiabank Stage.
Wearing their traditional red uniforms, the Downtown Watch bike patrollers will provide general core-area security and serve as ambassadors for the district through October, while giving police and private security officers some extra eyes and ears. They’re riding Chinook mountain bikes, which Mountain Equipment Co-op has sold the BIZ at a discount.
“They’re very good bikes. They’re quite expensive,” said patrol captain Gary Simpson.
“We spent over $9,000 on these bikes. They’re really good for what we’re going to be doing this season.”
From the intersection of Main Street and Higgins Avenue to the Osborne Street Bridge, the patrol will watch for what Black calls “hot spots” for trouble, including the newly upgraded Central Park and the front of Portage Place Shopping Centre.
After the cyclist patrol team was announced on Portage Avenue downtown, Black put the group through the finishing touches on its training at The Forks in manoeuvring in tight spaces, slow-speed travel, balance and defensive techniques in traffic.
“It’s a new experience. You get to deal with a lot of different things,” Simpson explained.
“You deal with youth, you learn how to talk to people. It’s just a really fun gig during the summer.”
MEC manager Ken Berg said it makes sense for the store to cut the prices on the bicycles for the BIZ, “and help them with maintenance” when needed.