Advocacy & Safety - Trail of Fears
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12-06-04, 01:49 PM
Walt Siefert, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, says that having more people on the trail would make it safer, but that solution has problems, too.
"It's real tough. On the one hand, we want people to use the trail. But on the other, especially the first four or five miles of the trail, it's hard to recommend to people, especially women riding alone, that they venture out there," Siefert said. "We'd like to have more eyes on the trail, but we don't think it's as safe as it could be right now."
12-06-04, 04:19 PM
A conventional law enforcement approach of responding AFTER a cyclist is attacked does not work in a large park. What does work is using a pro-active approach. Send a tiny, young female officer up the trail alone. Have five or six large male officers a couple hundred yards behind her. Have other officers concealed in the woods up ahead. A dangerous assignment for the "bait", but the only sure way to catch the hoodlums in the act of an attack.
However, not many police departments are going to make protection of cyclists a top priority. So, cyclists need to ride in groups of at least three or four in high crime areas, and at least two of the four need to be large enough to inspire the "skinheads" to take a new direction in life.
One day, I was riding through a rough area and saw a gang of ten or fifteen teen-agers beating up a kid. I pulled up about fifty years away and called 911 on my cell. One by one, members of the gang saw me, and would elbow the guy next to him and take off running. I was mystified why they took off.
Later, I realized that my mountain bike was equipped much like the bikes of the bicycle police in the area (rear rack and lots of lights front and back), and my white helmet, blue shirt and blue shorts were somewhat similar to what those officers wear. I was tempted to make those clothes my standard "bad neighborhood" outfit.
Good post, PainTrain. I'm really familiar with that portion of the trail since I usually access it by the Pipe Bridge near Northgate Blvd. In the morning you'll see the camps along the river being broken and the daily hike to Loaves and Fishes. I've never been threatened myself but I can see how intimidating it could be to some folks, especially women.
I always try to live by the cyclists' code of helping out a fellow rider but after reading that article, I'm going to really look carefully at the situation before stopping to help. And that's sad too.
12-06-04, 08:02 PM
Just one of the many reasons I religiously avoid trails like that one. Heck, I've got enough concerns at traffic lights in broad daylight with this sort of thing. There is no way I'm going to increase the risk on a deserted, poorly lit trail after dark. The only way to prevent this sort of attack is to surround yourself with plenty of witnesses, and if that means riding the highway, so be it.
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