The township’s second annual Community Bike Ride, organized by the Belleville Police Department on Saturday, was dedicated to family fun, fitness and further fostering community pride.
Chief Mark Minichini said the leisurely bike ride on a sun-kissed morning was the perfect opportunity for residents to meet and chat with the dedicated officers in the Belleville Police Department who serve them every day.
About 100 cyclists in all – students, their parents, members of the police department and Mayor Michael Melham - gathered at Belleville High School in the morning and set out for a day of sun and fun.
During the 3.6-mile ride, police officers took the opportunity to chat with the other riders about their summer vacation plans, their favorite sports teams and the importance of doing well in school.
Along with events such as the upcoming Walk to School Day, the police department is constantly looking for new ways to break down the barriers that sometimes exist between officers and members of the public.
“The Community Bike Ride is a great day for us to enhance our visibility and demonstrate our accessibility,” Minichini said.
“Being seen around town and being an active part of this community has been an ongoing initiative for our police department since I became chief. This ride gives us another chance to get to know the residents that we serve and protect.”
Bikes are an everyday part of the Belleville Police Department since it revived its long-dormant bicycle unit about four years ago.
The initiative has proven to not only be popular with Belleville residents, who often wave hello to the police as they patrol the town, but it’s popular among the officers.
Minichini said more than a dozen members of the department have completed the necessary training to take part in the bike patrol.
The Community Bike Ride also afforded the Belleville Police a chance to offer participants a refresher course in bike safety.
A bike rodeo was created where officers showed young cyclists the safest ways to take curves, make turns and other maneuvers.
All participants received bicycle lights and water bottles.
“Our police department does a tremendous job of keeping us safe,” Melham said.
“It is also a great community partner, and an event such as the Community Bike Ride is a prime example of how enmeshed they are here.”