Tuesday, February 9 , 2016, 7:14 am | Fair 48º

Santa Barbara Police to Get Their Ride On with Three-Wheeled Scooters

After testing period, SBPD plans to acquire a fleet from Buellton-based Trikke to patrol downtown, waterfront

The Santa Barbara Police Department is planning to acquire several Trikke vehiclels for use in patrolling the downtown area and the waterfront.
The Santa Barbara Police Department is planning to acquire several Trikke vehiclels for use in patrolling the downtown area and the waterfront.  (Trikke photos)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Prepare to see three-wheeling police officers on the streets of Santa Barbara.

After some test runs, the Santa Barbara Police Department has decided to buy electric-powered Trikkes instead of Segways for beat coordinators and officers patrolling the downtown and waterfront corridors.

“We concluded the pilot phase of testing them, and know that we like them, so we’re going to look into acquiring some of them,” said Sgt. Riley Harwood, a department spokesman.

Harwood said the department doesn’t know how many it will buy or where the funding will come from, although the Santa Barbara Police Foundation reportedly has pledged some money to the effort.

Electric-powered Trikke Tech Inc. models reach up to 16 mph and range up to 24 miles per battery charge, according to the Buellton-based company’s website. The electric models cost between $1,300 to $2,300 each.

The Trikkes are lighter, more affordable, and easier to stop and dismount than the Segways, Harwood said.

There are some disadvantages, however. They’re so light that police worry about keeping them locked down since they can be folded up and carried away.

“In general, I think there are a lot of things that they’re useful for, but the downside is the same as bikes: having to leave it behind if you jump off of it,” said Sgt. Eric Beecher, who was trained on the Trikkes.

“If you don’t take the key out of it and shut if off, somebody could easily take off with it. It’s not something you’ll want to leave behind very often, so that’ll have to be worked out.”

Officers on Trikkes can ride on sidewalks, and will be added to the fleet of officers on foot, bicycles, motorcycles and cars.

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies in Solvang’s police department already use the Trikkes for patrol officers, according to the Trikke website.

“With Trikkes and also with Segways, the idea is to still be on the sidewalk with pedestrians and be able to respond to calls or perhaps follow perpetrators to much better degree than on foot, but have better contact than officers on the bicycles,” Harwood said.

“Three of my four officers are trained and have ridden them, and other officers have trained as well. Wojo (Officer Kent Wojciechoski), my tall one, he won’t do it; he said it’s too far to fall,” he laughed.

“You know (teasing) is going to happen, but people will get used to seeing us on them,” Harwood said. “And we do get a lot of positive feedback.”

Beecher said the Trikkes give officers more mobility and visibility — by being a few inches taller than everyone else — than being on foot or bicycles.

Getting the hang of the scooters is relatively simple, he added.

“It’ll probably take a few hours of training on it to really feel comfortable to start riding it on sidewalks and in the streets,” he said. “Once you get it down, it’s pretty easy.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 02.18.13 @ 10:05 AM

They can’t afford a bomb dog, but they can buy scooters?

» on 02.18.13 @ 10:55 AM

I’ve been able to patrol downtown and the waterfront quite nicely on my bicycle after selling my car five days after moving to Santa Barbara twelve years ago — and I always enjoy seeing officers on bikes.

Personally I wouldn’t be caught dead on one of these dorky things, and I really don’t see the advantage over bikes. I’ve spent an average of $8 per month over the past twelve years keeping my 30-year old 12-speed on the road and, unless I bend the frame, I expect it will outlast me. Besides the much greater cost of these things that provide no exercise, what’s the life expectancy and the maintenance and power costs?

And what do the mountain bike officers carry in their bicycle panniers? — because they can’t carry anything on these things.

Regarding “officers on Trikkes can ride on sidewalks”: seriously? If an officer on a mountain bike on the street or bike lane needs to hop up onto the sidewalk for any legitimate reason, I don’t think he or she will need to be concerned about getting ticketed. And are they really going to clutter up the pedestrian-heavy State Street sidewalks with these things — issuing citations to non-police who think it’s OK using motorized scooters on the sidewalks because they see the police doing it?

» on 02.18.13 @ 12:30 PM

Why would the city or whoever want to spend money on these Trikke’s when the police really do nothing about the homeless, riff-raff on downtown State street??!! They may go up and down on State, but they’re really not patrolling.

» on 02.18.13 @ 01:21 PM

SBPD doesn’t need a bomb dog. 
As for the Trikkes, great.  Another way to get out of cars and around the public!  Great idea and supporting a local business as well!

» on 02.18.13 @ 02:44 PM

How about these cops walk instead?  Or is that too much for their union butts to endure?  Jeez, talk about alienating yourself from the public…

These things are beyond ridiculous.  They’re designed and made for mall cops and 12 yr olds to putter down the sidewalk…

» on 02.18.13 @ 03:56 PM


Good point regarding walking.

The article states “…added to the fleet of officers on foot…”:

So, if there are actual walking beats, where better than the State Street business district, in which case what do these add there? Setting aside my concern above about officers on motorized vehicles on the sidewalks in the business district encouraging the public to do the same — I could be wrong, but I would think many officers would prefer walking that area over being laughed at on one of these.

As far as “…be able to respond to calls or perhaps follow perpetrators to much better degree than on foot…”:

The article doesn’t indicate top speed, but if it’s less than 15 mph or so, I’m certain I could easily outrun these things on my 30-year old bicycle, uphill or down, especially if they’re low on power at the time ( ;-) ), and there are certainly ways a perpetrator fleeing on foot can go where these easily can’t (into one door of a business and out the other, for instance), so I wonder how these improve on a State Street business district foot patrol supplemented by mountain bikes in the area but covering a larger beat.

» on 02.19.13 @ 02:29 AM

Anything to get laughed at by the CHP.  Ponch is rolling his eyes.

» on 02.19.13 @ 01:19 PM

Big Wheels are only like $30!

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