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Fuji's distributor suspends sales of police bikes in North America, begins dialogue with police departments

Published June 8, 2020
UPDATED with company comment.

PHILADELPHIA (BRAIN) — BikeCo, the North American distributor of Fuji bikes, has suspended sales of bikes to police forces, citing recent reports of police bikes being used as weapons at protest marches. 

A representative from the company said it has begun discussions with police departments and with the International Police Mountain Biking Association, which provides bike training for police officers. The representative said the IPMBA confirmed that they do not advocate using bikes as weapons and does not train officers to do so.

The representative said BikeCo expects to resume sales of police bikes to its dealers at some point after the company has assurances that bikes won't be used as weapons. The representative declined to comment on whether that assurance would have to come in the form of a sales contract or a less formal assurance. "We're not ready to comment on that," the representative told BRAIN.

"We are committed to police using bikes as part of community policing. We believe policing by bicycle is the best way of policing because the officer is closer to the community. It's something we have advocated for. We have great relationships with police departments, and our dealers also have those relationships. We just feel that this situation creates an opportunity for dialogue that we welcome."

Fuji police bikes are sold through bike shops. The representative said BikeCo's dealers who have been in contact support the decision to start a dialogue. BikeCo is headquartered in Northeast Philadelphia.

"It's a delicate situation. We have dealers whose shops were looted. We also have employees who are former police officers or who have family members who are police officers. We are just saying, 'let's stop and talk,'" the representative told BRAIN.

In a statement released Friday, BikeCo said, "In an effort to make real change, we are beginning a dialogue with police departments nationwide to address how bikes are used in police activity and to ensure that police’s on-bike training reinforces that bicycles are not a weapon against our community. At this time, we are suspending the sale of Fuji police bikes until a conversation with these departments has occurred and we are confident that real change is being made.

"To hear that there are instances where bicycles have been used as a weapon against those who are vulnerable, those speaking out against the unjust treatment of people of color, and those standing alongside them advocating change, has deeply upset our community, our company and the heart of the Fuji brand. We support many diverse organizations and athletes — not for marketing stories, but because we truly want to make a difference in our community. To have these efforts overshadowed by cases of violence with bicycles is unacceptable," the company in a statement Friday.

"We have seen instances in the last week where police have used bicycles in violent tactics, which we did not intend or design our bicycles for. We had always viewed the use of our bicycles by police, fire, security and EMS as one of the better forms of community outreach. Community police on bikes can better connect with and understand the neighborhood, facilitating positive relationships between law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect."

There have been calls on social media for other brands to stop selling police bikes. Following a Forbes article earlier this week about the use of police bikes at demonstrations, Trek president John Burke released a statement that said "we support the peaceful protest of police brutality and inequality and oppose any unlawful action by any citizen including police.”

Burke continued, “Our bicycles have played a long-time, important role in community-based law enforcement programs, bringing officers out of stations and vehicles and into neighborhoods where they are more connected to the communities they serve. ... this approach to community relations has delivered positive change over the years, and we are supportive of our products being used in this manner.”

BRAIN has reached out to several other brands that sell police bikes, including Kona, KHS, Rad Power Bikes and Haro and has received no response. A Cannondale representative said the brand ended its police bike program about three years ago. 

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