The Ottawa Police bike patrol isn’t supposed to look intimidating, but try running from four officers pedaling in hot pursuit.

With more than a hundred officers patrolling the capital’s streets on two wheels, the unit is making its presence known this summer.

 “A lot of stuff goes on behind the streets, behind buildings, parks, whatever the case may be, and that's where we come in,” says Const. Chris Cochrane who trains many officers in the unit.

CTV News was invited by the Ottawa Police to see just how effective bikes can be in the heart of the ByWard Market.

Narrow paths and tight alleyways can often be used by a suspect on the run, especially to escape a patrol vehicle.

“We know all the nooks and crannies,” says Cochrane. “So if we know that last known direction of a subject we can encompass that area, know where all the outlets and exits and what not are.”

The bike patrol is also used to help with crowd control. A line of bicycles can create an instant barrier to block an unruly protest or gathering.

Officers in the unit are trained on different strategic formations and takedowns.

In one demonstration, CTV News reporter John Hua was asked to make a run for it. Two officers get ready to dismount behind Hua as two others bike ahead to cut him off.

In a matter of moments, it’s pretty clear there’s nowhere to run.

“We get up close to you, we affect an arrest,” says Cochrane.

Most importantly, the officers of this unit say it offers them a softer approach with the public.

That approach can quickly change.

With a report from CTV’s John Hua.