Peter Kotses checks Chris Gabriel's bicycle tires

Peter Kotses (right) demonstrates how to check bicycle tires for proper inflation while Chris Gabriel (left) and Angie Schirtzinger (far left) look on

Photographer: Jennifer Cochran

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Bobcat community invited to pedal with police


OUPD Community Relations Officer John Stabler started the Stroll Patrol program last fall, as a way to facilitate casual interactions between the police and the campus community. A year later, he is still leading groups of OHIO employees and community members on brisk walks around campus every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, but he also is giving his Bobcat family the opportunity to bike around campus together through Pedal with Police.

Pedal with Police focuses on education, health, and safety. A collaborative effort with WellWorks, the program brings together OHIO employees, students, and other community members to learn about getting around campus efficiently and safely by bicycle. Each ride centers on a theme and offers participants the opportunity to learn new skills. Participants can register their bikes with OUPD at the Pedal with Police events. Transportation and Parking Services is providing free helmets for up to six participants at each session. At the Oct. 10 “Locks and Leaves” ride, OUPD will give away U-locks before riding up to the Ridges for a look at the changing leaves.

Stabler said riding his bike always helps him feel better and he hopes to help promote bicycling as a tool for community wellness. Pedal with Police participants meet in front of Bird Arena at noon on Wednesdays. In case of inclement weather, updates or cancellations will be shared on the OUPD and WellWorks Facebook and Twitter feeds.

University Ombuds Mac Stricklen is an experienced cyclist who joined a small group of participants at Bird Arena and biked to Bingham House on Oct. 3 for a conversation called, “Bike Repair on the Go." Athens Bicycle owner Peter Kotses introduced the tools available in one of several fixit stations located along the Hockhocking Bikeway and talked about basic repairs.

Kotses told participants to ensure their tires are fully inflated and to add air at least once a month. “Most on-road repairs come down to tires,” Kotses said, as he demonstrated the contents of the repair kit he carries on his bicycle.

Stricklen said he planned to attend other Pedal with Police rides and he encourages other OHIO community members to come out for “some mid-day fun and an extra dose of physical and mental health.” He said he wanted to support the effort of Officer Stabler and OUPD. “Plus, it is a chance to engage with members of the campus community who may not be aware of my office or the services I can provide,” Stricklen added. “And really, I’ll take any chance to get outside and on the bike for a little while!”

Angie Schirtzinger, a senior earning a Bachelor of Specialized Studies degree in Holistic Wellness Management, has helped publicize Pedal with Police as an intern at WellWorks. She was excited to get a new bike helmet to go with her recently tuned-up bike, and to learn new skills to overcome obstacles to bicycling. “Hills feel like an obstacle,” she said, noting that Officer John Stabler planned to lead a session titled “Shifting Gears, Climbing Hills” to help participants learn how to better use their bicycle’s gears to negotiate the hills of Athens.

“I love biking and I want to know how to maneuver around campus better,” said Schirtzinger, who is an advocate of active transportation and healthy activities. “It’s a great way to come together in community,” she said. “I want to be supportive of the program and what OUPD is trying to do.”

Chris Gabriel, who happily showed off the new bike helmet she received courtesy of Transportation and
Parking Services, got her bike out of the garage, where it had been sitting unused, to come participate in the Pedal with Police program. “I started walking with the Stroll Patrol and when Pedal with Police started I was excited about it,” she said. Gabriel works for Regional Higher Education, and hopes to use her bike more for leisurely riding in her spare time.

Stabler said each ride has attracted up to six people and he encourages others to come out and join the rides. He hopes to plan another series in the spring.