Bike Mounted Rangers
One of the trendiest special function teams in the state park service are the bike mounted rangers. This team, comprised of about 25 members statewide, not only enjoy riding their bikes as they make their rounds each day on their respective parks,
but they are also highly-trained and equipped with some of the most up-to-date gear for cyclists.
The bike mounted ranger program began over 10 years ago. The program was started to give rangers another option to get around the park and to leave their trucks and other motorized vehicles parked.
“The bikes are a green alternative to our other modes of transportation on the park,” said Mark Davis, lakes regional chief and team sponsor.
“This program not only helps us save money and fuel, it also gives us better visibility around the parks and closer contact with our visitors. Vehicles sometimes seem like barriers. These bikes don’t.”
The rangers who are members of this team ride Diamondback or Cannondale mountain bikes. They are outfitted with the latest safety equipment including helmets, padded gloves, bike shoes and eye protection. According to bike mounted ranger Nathan Maiwald, “It is important to wear this safety equipment, and it often gives you an opportunity to educate park visitors about why it’s key that they invest in safety equipment too.
Our younger visitors especially like to ask questions and learn about our bikes and equipment. It helps us make a connection with them.”
This group also takes training very seriously. Of course once you learn to ride a bike, you don’t ever really forget, but these rangers are trained in maneuvers and skills that the average cyclist does not necessarily know.
Two members of the team, Raymond Felton, senior ranger at Keowee-Toxaway State Park and Robert Dinkins, manager of
Lake Hartwell State Park are certified instructors by the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association
Raymond and Robert are responsible for the other members of the bike mounted rangers becoming LEBA certified.
The rangers have to take a basic training course that culminates with a test, initially, then trainings are held on an annual basis.
So next time you’re visiting one of our state parks across South Carolina, and you see a ranger riding around on a bike, know that they’re not just on a joy ride. Oh, they are probably enjoying what they are doing, but they are also members of a special team of rangers, that are patrolling the park to keep it safe and to provide service to you, their customers, up close and personal.