This may be of interest to anyone who rides the Schuylkill River Trail:
This may be of interest to anyone who rides the Schuylkill River Trail:
Yeah, that majorly sux. The little urchins are at it again- I thought this problem was solved last year. Oh yeah, I thought our roach problem was taken care of last year too, but.... actually it was- maybe we should use some Raid on these low-lifes?
If I go out front, here, at night and look down into the next block I see a bunch of long red t-shirts and black pants. Selling drugs to cars that stop in the middle of the block. I didn't bother asking any of the neighborhood youths as to which gang is wearing the long red t-shirts. We have one group wears only long white t-shirts and the other wears the long red t-shirts.
The ones in the red t-shirts make their dislike of whites very plain. Here in this town it is part of the gang initiation to go beat up on a white person. No doubt the ones in Norristown work the same way.
No doubt but that the local police will get on them. The trail is to important to the communities to let a bunch of thugs prey on the trail users. Late in the day on May 21 we saw a Montgomery County sheriff cruising the trail on his motorcycle.
We had seen some Latin King graffitti along the trail last year but they did not bother any trail users. You would see two or three of them walking their pit bulls along the trail around Norristown. The local police warned them not to bother trail users. They got the message quickly.
In 2007 the local police patrolled the trail heavily. The summer of 2008 saw few problems in that area. Now the drug gangs moved into Norristown as is seen in the red t-shirts on the playgrounds on either side of the trail at Hawes Ave. After our May rides I was wondering when they would do something stupid. In 2007 the PA State Police had at least 5 officers ride the trail in the Norristown section. We watched them train on the bikes. Impressive!! They were all very big men.
I suspect that after this latest attack we will be seeing a lot of police on the trail in that section.
This is so sad.
I worry about being hit by cars on the road, never thought I'd have to worry about being assaulted on a bike path. I always felt safe on this trail and now I know I won't anymore.
This just angers me on so many levels. We have so much to worry about in other areas in the NJ/Philly area. I never thought I would have to worry about being assaulted on a bike path. Now...perhaps being black (also 6'1" and 200+ lbs) I would not be a target for these thugs, that does not make me any less angry or feel any less concern for my safety. My former job was as a bail bondsman and I can tell you for certain that these gangsters are, indeed, cowards...every last one of them. I have seen many of them break down and cry like babies in our office after jumping bail and getting caught by our bounty hunters. I have heard many more cry even louder when calling from jail to try to arrange bail only to find out that their family and/or "homeys" will not put up bail money for them. For the sake of the cycling public and the city of Philadelphia these thugs will be taken care of quickly and aggressively. I have no tolerance, nor do I have any sympathy for these animals.
“A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence. ”
― Bruce Lee
Don't let a bunch of losers like this take control!
The wife and I put 38 miles on the SRT today. There was a big thing going on at Betzwood until 3 pm. I spoke to a man from the county parks department. They are indeed talking to the Norristown police about the incident the other evening. So far it seems to be one isolated incident but is being taken very seriously. We went past the playgrounds around 11 a.m. and they were empty. About 1 p.m. we came back up the trail past the two playgrounds. Only a few kids playing basketball and not a red t-shirt in sight.
The real test on this would be to look at the crowd on the playgrounds close to dusk. I have an idea that there is a lot of drug dealing going on there. My wife and I have a times swept gravel and glass off the trail at Hawes Ave. Dope bags are sometimes mixed in with the junk on the trail.
We saw a few teams out for rides before tomorrow's race. Wished them luck and they thanked us. The crowd on the trail today were mostly pleasant types. Between the weather and the people we spoke to it was a very nice day.
We were shocked today at the condition of the trail from Conshohocken to the Philly city line. The amount of shrubbery growing out over the trail and the amount hanging down from the trees. When I mentioned it to the parks man he informed me that it should be taken care of shortly.
It really is a shame what's going on. One should not have to be armed to enjoy a MUP... it is pathetic.
When we first started doing MUPs (rail trails) in 2004 we noticed that the locals sort of figured that this were police free zones. There were several sections of the SRT that were iffy when it came to personal safety. Then the local police wised up and began to patrol them in the problem areas. According to the man from the parks dept. I spoke with yesterday the budget cuts have limited police patrols on the CRT. We have seen the same thing on other trails in PA and NJ.
When we first started using the SRT I spoke with a few of the park rangers who patrolled the trail. I was told that since the SRT saw commuter use it was open 24/7. This year I noted that the park rules now show it as open from dawn to dusk. Not to be used after dark and that the rule will be enforced. In 2004 and 2005 we saw riders out getting their pedal time in after dark. We noticed this year that as it gets close to dusk the trail is empty as are the access area parking lots.
So the criminal types create safety issues AND limit the hours of use of the trail.
After posting my last message I had a look at the Philly bicycle blog via the link in the first posting in this thread. Users of the CRT might want to look at it.
There is a call for skaters and bicyclists to assemble at the Hawes Ave. area on the evening of the 10th between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. Something of a show of force.
The thing about the incident that started this thread is that if the trail becomes too much of a problem for a local government they simply just let them go.
I don't think that the people in Montgomery County and Philly understand what a treasure they have in the SRT and the trails that connect to it. These MUP's must compete for funding with other parks. Philly's view of the SRT is clear when you look at the section of the trail from the city line down to Port Royal. They do almost nothing to keep it in a safe condition. Narrow, tree root bumps and now a big piece of rock blocking half of the trail. Heavy rain the other week caused a big hunk of shale to break away and fall onto the trail. Where half of the trail has been gone for some time. If you are heading back towards Conshohocken at a good speed you can't see the big rock on the trail until you are almost on it. That gives traffic both ways just a narrow strip of trail to use. Next week the wife will be at the shore so I must just take the rock hammer, break it up and remove it from the trail. Had to do some of that this past spring in the Hamburg area of the trail in northern Berks County.
Two years ago we watched a Montgomery County parks employee counting the number of people using the trail. They keep records on this trail use numbers. That surfaces at budget time and somewhat determines how much each park gets the next year. So a major drop in trail use will often result in less money to maintain and improve a trail. So the activities of some of these thugs may have an effect far beyond the initial incident.
Disgusting stretch of MUP right there.
I don't think much can be done. The MUP runs right through a bad slum. What are they going to do? Have 24 hour police presence?
Even when gangs aren't in the area, the MUP is a shortcut between that neighborhood and the train station. People walk 4 abreast and some get very angry with bikers who try to pass them.
I was spit on by a gang of kids one night when I was doing after dark training rides about 10 years ago. That's the last time I rode after dark through there.
It's always stressful riding through there, which is ridiculous, given that it has been that way for years.
I was considering starting a tour there, changed my mind because it would take three trains to get there. Now I'm definitely not riding out of Norristown.
One of the things about MUPs on old rail beds is that a fair number of them go through the run-down sections of towns. When a lot of the old railroad beds now converted into MUPs once carried long trains of coal cars here in eastern PA. Dirty and noise 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So when riding MUPs that are converted old rail beds you have to expect going through some rough sections of specific towns. But the Hawes Ave. section of the SRT is still safer than an evening in my neighborhood.
I think what will come out of this incident is that police presence will be increased. But for how long?
Reading, here, is the western end of the Allentown and Easton corridor. Various law enforcement agencies had to put together a big anti-gang unit a year or two back. So up here the violent gang thing is being addressed. Down there?
Whiteknight, that makes sense. The RRs did run through the neighborhoods of people who couldn't afford to be away from the noise and dirt.
There is a meeting tonight at 7 PM (Wednesday June 10) in Norristown with the local authorities to address the problem.
The location is:
1 Montgomery Plaza
Swede St at Airy St
According to http://twitter.com/phillybikeclub
"Bikes can be left in lobby, security guard on duty."
Hope to see you there.
Had this been held on a Tuesday or Thursday my wife and I would be there. But this evening I must work so I will not be able to attend.
I just got back from the meeting.
It was a good start.
The woman who had been attacked last week was there and told the details of the attack.
The officials there began by talking about the entire 25 miles of trails, and crime statistics, however one by one, bikers re-focused them on the 1/8 mile of problem, Haws Ave and just east of there, and not so much crime as intimidation.
Of course they tried to minimize this incident to protect the reputation of the trail.
In regards to the intimidation thing.
My wife and I have run into that at Hawes Ave. several times. Three or four thugs standing or walking and blocking the trail completely.
We live here in center city Reading. We get that sort of nonsense almost daily. You are expected to avert your eyes and not look at them directly. To the street thugs mind averting your eyes is showing respect and an admission that they are stronger and superior to you. There have been fights and shootings involving this line of thought.
My thinking is that you don't intimidate an old man packing a Colt or an S&W!
There are a large number of trail users who are not wise in the ways of the street thugs. So the possibility or more violent incidents is always present.
The situation at Hawes Ave. presents something of a challenge to the local law enforcement officers. There is nothing illegal or against park rules if the thugs are just standing off on the side of the trail. Even if they physically block the trail for short periods of time. So the officers can only sit off on the side and observe them. The officers could ask to see I.D. but that would be as far as they can go in this until there would be another act of violence.
The only real way to deal with it at present is to not ride alone and have a cell phone handy.
Part of this recent incident stems from the reduction in the parks dept. staff. In 2006 and 2007 it was not unusual to see a parks dept. truck hanging around the Hawes Ave. section. Now we rarely see any parks dept. employees on the trail. In a way it is drifting back to what we saw in 2004 where the criminal element views the trail as a police-free zone where they can do what they want.
Two years ago we had a similar situation on the Thun Trail here in Reading. We now see men on bicycles with "Trail Ambassador" on their shirts. They simply patrol the trail and call police if anything is wrong. On two trails in Maryland we saw elderly men on recumbents in park uniforms patrolling.
To join the group: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/montco_bikes/From: Steve
Subject: [montco_bikes] SRT Assault 2 days post meeting, Where Things Stand Right Now....
Date: Friday, June 12, 2009, 6:19 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Just a short recap, at the meeting on Wednesday night, these are the
solutions that we came away with....
1. Web Based Reporting System for events that are not 911 worthy, but
police should be made aware of.
2. Cameras to monitor the area where the Assault occurred
3. Trail work days to clean up the brush where the kids who are
throwing rocks at the cyclists are hiding.
What has been done so far.
1. Jon is in charge of creating the web based reporting
system, What he has come up with is pretty spectacular in its current
state of development, (URL removed) I believe we
are on the right track, a bit of fine tuning, and we should be able
to go live with it pretty soon!
2. A friend of mine works in the video industry, and he has priced
out equipment for the security video monitoring of the area. The
cost of the system which would involve two wireless cameras would be
in the neighborhood of $2,000 INCLUDING a PC to monitor the
system. The DVR he selected for the project could record more than
60 DAYS!!! I had no clue it could record so much! Anyway, I do not
believe we will have any problem raising the money for this worthy
cause, DO YOU???
2A I spoke with the NPD, I am not sure how well they will be able to
actually monitor the video feed, but I intend to put this video feed
on the internet which would make all of this stuff much easier and
cheaper to deal with
3. I spoke with Richard, He can arrange to have a chipper down
at the area in question when we are ready for it... I have it from
him, Whatever tools we bring, we CANNOT BRING A CHAINSAW! No
chainsaws allowed due to the liability that no waiver will hold
up. If you bring a gas weedwacker, please wear goggles or safety
glasses. I will be bringing some tools that are a bit more satisfying to use!
3A On a side note, I will be setting up a meeting with SEPTA to see
if some of us could store some of our stuff at the train station so
that we can organize trail maintenance evenings. Not sure if this
will happen, but I am tossing it out to say I am going to try.
Unfortunately, I will NOT be hosting my meeting tonight as nobody who
volunteered to lead something was actually able to make
it.... HOWEVER, there WILL be a meeting next week, Same
place.... If you want to come, it will be on Wednesday
Evening. This will be to go over a few things, I would like it VERY
MUCH, if you told me that you were willing to help coordinate for the
trail day, YOU SHOULD BE THERE... If you want to help me raise money
to pay for the camera system, you should be there... If you are a
club representative telling me what you are able to donate, as a
club, Please be there, or at least e-mail me off list....
ALSO, if you are in any way able to help with any of the above
projects, PLEASE e-mail me off list.
We CAN make this happen ladies and gentlemen!!!
This is OUR HOME.... Right now, there is Garbage on our lawn, and we
NEED to pick it up! This cannot be a one time thing, we need to be
proactive in this effort, we need to make sure that we do not need to
have another meeting like the one this past Wednesday night, as a
direct result of our dropping the ball on something...
Together we WILL make a difference!
Chair, Montgomery County Cycling Committee
Safety and Legislation Coordinator, Suburban Cyclists Unlimited