Cycling with the Cops

By Officer Tori Saunders - December 8, 2020

Cycling with the Cops

Isla Vista can easily be mistaken for a “College student party town”, especially by people that have not lived there and do not understand its vibrant community. Most of the time, people forget that although there are a significant amount of college aged students living in Isla Vista, there is also a large population of families and long-term residents who share the community of Isla Vista and call it their home, too. There is even an elementary school in Isla Vista and many of the students live right here in Isla Vista. That is what makes Isla Vista such a diverse and collectively unique community.

In the past few months, the world has come to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Due to this, students are navigating their academic life and personal life, virtually.

In these times of confusion, and sometimes fear of the unknown, it can be hard to find productive ways to stay active and be outdoors. The UC Santa Barbara Police Department along with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department has teamed up with the St. George Youth Center to put on safe, socially distanced bike rides with the children of the Isla Vista Community. The event is called, “Cycling with the Cops.”

These rides are usually held during the afternoons and evening hours, towards the later end of the week. The length of the ride varies from a short 5-mile ride to Goleta Beach Pier and back to a longer ride up to 15 miles. We have only done one ride of this length to date, which was to More Mesa Bluffs and back.

The ride is always chaperoned by at least two Law Enforcement Officers and one director from the St. George Youth Center. Oftentimes we have up to four Law Enforcement Officers and several parents joining us for the rides. We also have UCPD patrol officers who are ready to respond in the case of an injury or flat tire.

These rides are a great way to bring the community of Isla Vista together for a fun, safe and enjoyable outdoor excursion. Officers are able to speak to children about bicycle safety, and other general topics such as sports and favorite topics in school. This also establishes a great connection between the child and the officer and provides that feeling of togetherness that might not have been possible without an event such as this. The children now feel comfortable around Law Enforcement, if they hadn’t before, and the mutual enjoyment of going for a bike ride in our beautiful community can be a shared experience for all.

Another important facet to the Cycling with the Cops event is the physical and mental well-being this provided all participants. During these stressful and uncertain times, anxieties can build and our bodies can become sedentary. Providing a safe, social-distancing friendly event which encourages participants to exercise and move their bodies outside of the “Zoom Classroom” is essential in maintaining good mental health and physical well-being. A lot of the children who participate in these bike rides will comment on how long they have to sit and start at their computer during the day and how good it feels to move their legs. We at the UCPD are elated to be able to help facilitate this kind of healthy and active lifestyle.

These bike rides are not on a set schedule at this time, but usually get scheduled approximately every 2-3 weeks. Plenty of notice is given leading up to the event as well as advertising for the event. All rides are open to the public. We ask that everyone bring their own bicycle, helmet, water, and face mask.

For any inquiries please contact victoria.saunders@police.ucsb.edu or, community@police.ucsb.edu, or Leonor Reyes at the St. George Youth Center (805) 685-9170.

Officer Saunders leading the socially distanced bike ride

 

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