I was riding home from my mother's last night after 10:00 and made a quick stop at a local eatery to get a sandwich to take home. As I was locking my bike up I noticed a car parked in an odd place by the building with voices and laughing coming form inside. For some reason my Spidey sense started tingling, so, I went to the door on the other side of the building to keep from walking by the car.
When I left a few minutes later, the car was still there and one of the passengers was out of the car smoking a cigarette and watching me as I unlocked my bike. As I rode off I took a wide berth around the car. The passenger snuffed out his cigarette and got back in the car as I rode off. Sure enough they started the car and started to follow. I rode quickly to a convenience store a few doors down just to be around some other people. I stood by the door waiting. The car pulled in an parked, and nobody got out for quite a while. I was taking a drink out of my water bottle trying to decide what to do - Go into the store? Call the police? Well, I didn't do either. I didn't want to go into the store and leave my bike outside and I didn't want to call the police and sound like a goof when the guys in the car hadn't done anything. I carry a ***, so, I took off my gloves (it was cold) in case I hade to grab it.
Finally, the passenger got out of the car and I jumped back on my bike and rode back the way I came. I got to a place where I could duck into some deep shadows and waited. After a while, they came back the same way also. I waited a bit, then took some back roads home. I left my gloves off and my lights off all of the way.
As I was riding home I was trying to figure out why the Spidey senses were tingling and it came to me rather quickly. Last July there was a cyclist shot in the leg late at night as he was riding home. The police investigated and decided that it was a random act of violence and the guys were never caught. I kind of remembered the description of the car and shooter that the cyclist gave the police and after checking the news article I was correct. The description the cyclist gave was of a late model black four-door vehicle. The shooter was a heavyset black male with a round face and long dreadlocks. This is the exact same description of the car and passenger I saw last night.
Was it the same people? I don't know. Did it scare me. Yes, it did. The city I live in just made the list of the 100 most dangerous place to live in the US. We came in at number 95 , but I still had no idea that this town of 160,000 had become that bad.
I really want to get back to commuting most of the time, but I just don't know how safe I feel on a bike at night here anymore.