A mobile cycling police force in Croatia.
Some look at him with derision, some with interest, and some cannot hide their surprise – turning their heads and following him until he disappears behind a nearby building or among people. When people in Zagreb notice a policeman on a bicycle “decorated” with the distinctive characteristics of police vehicles, the reactions are mostly positive. While pedestrians are just surprised, the reactions of other cyclists are somewhat different, sometimes even comical, reports Vecernji List on November 12, 2015.
“There were several situations when cyclists, after they saw me, would stop and literally start pushing their bikes. That happened mostly on Zagreb’s main square since they thought they must not ride their bikes in the pedestrian zone, which of course is not true”, 34-year-old Vanja Čatalinac said while “patrolling” around the city center. He is one of eight police officers on bicycles in Zagreb which the citizens can see on the streets from 29 September, when a pilot project of the police bicycle patrols in the Zagreb area was officially presented.
In the past forty days, since the start of the project, Čatalinac has spent about 15 days on his bicycle, due to the long period of rain in mid-October. His main task is to be in daily contact with people in order to strengthen the trust between citizens and police. “Thanks to a bicycle, to almost all calls I come first and I am faster even than my colleagues on foot. This is particularly evident in the city centre, where I am much faster than cars. There are a number of advantages. For example, areas which I used to visit on foot once or twice during a shift, now I can check several times”, Čatalinac explains.
However, he could certainly use some additional equipment. “When the night falls, we are not sufficiently visible, so it would be good to have a horn and some kind of police light signal, something like a ‘beacon’ which exists on motorbikes or cars”, Čatalinac said. In order to at least partially solve the problem of visibility, starting from spring all police officers on bicycles should have a special uniform to be more visible, especially at night.