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Crime Problem

Old 11-21-11, 04:20 AM
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Crime Problem

Lately there has been a huge spike in crime on the trail that I ride on (Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail). It has become a popular loitering spot for both criminals and the homeless. What worries me is that I am going to be riding alone and I may suddenly get ambushed by a group with weapons.

Now, it might seem far fetched, but this trail seems to be crime heavy. The latest report was a grandmother and her granddaughter were robbed and then shot with an assault rifle. Really? An assault rifle? A week before that a group of teenagers ambushed a man in his early thirties, beat him, and rode off with a $1,500 road bike.

I can go on and on, but for the sake of keeping this as short as possible, I won't. Basically, I am asking you all for tips on staying safe when I ride alone. I have also taken the liberty to e-mail my city hall and local PD requesting that they get their officers to patrol the trail by bike. They do have police they travel by a bicycle, but I have never seen them on the trail.

I want to make this clear -- This trail isn't crime infested, but the lack of law enforcement on the trail is slowly attracting the wrong attention, and it may come to that point. It is normally a safe and peaceful place to ride, walk your dog, or go for a jog, but I feel as if urging law enforcement to patrol those areas would deter any criminals and would give everyone peace of mind. Also keep in mind that

Last edited by Axiom; 11-21-11 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 11-21-11, 04:50 AM
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Hi there Axiom!

First of all, if you're a minor, you should not be permitted to ride in criminally infested areas, anyway. If I had known that my son had ventured into half the places that he entered without my permission, I would have half strangled him, myself.

My advice to you, is to find another area in which to ride your bike. Find another route that by-passes this dangerous area. Avoidance, will protect both your physical person and your future. You're too young to have your future stunted by a felony conviction!

STAY AWAY!!!

- Slim
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Old 11-21-11, 04:58 AM
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What area of the trail has the crime problem?
https://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/PDF/Locator.pdf
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Old 11-21-11, 04:59 AM
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If you can carry and it makes you feel safer go ahead. You should be sure to double check the rules regarding carrying weapons vs carrying concealed.
IF you are make sure you practice because it sounds like the cases you do make, a gun probably isn't going to help if you aren't a dead eye with the thing.

General rules of safety do apply.
If you are alone, it's probably not a good idea riding down a place you know is unsafe.
Write to the county Parks and Rec. Many times, they are also responsible for trails and alike. It doesn't hurt either.
Don't just e-mail. Call them. It would be ever better if you can make an appointment and see them in person.
What I could see online, they have an "Emergency Response System" every 200 or so ft. Worth looking into? I know it's probably not going to help if you are ambushed.
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Old 11-21-11, 05:00 AM
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It's better to avoid the situation in the first place than deliberately go through an area where you know there is crime (including serious crime) hoping you'll be able to protect yourself. If the criminals in the area have assault rifles what makes you think they'll be kind enough to stand where you can see them and get a good shot at them (assuming, of course, you can shoot straight while cycling one-handed), and line up to attack you one at a time so you can pick them off in turn?

What happens if one of these guys just shoots you from behind a bush? The first you'll know is a searing pain (if you're lucky) and a meeting with the ground. Now what do you do, except hope they just take your bike and anything valuable and don't put another bullet through you?

What happens if you come across half a dozen guys with baseball bats? Do you really think you can fire six shots accurately enough and fast enough to escape before even one of them gets a good swing at you?

This isn't the movies where one guy can defy all the odds and beat off a dozen attackers and come out with his hair barely ruffled. Unless you've got martial arts skills to make Bruce Lee look like an amateur an encounter isn't going to end well for you. Even if you can make Bruce Lee look like a hack the chances are things won't end well for you.

Avoid the place, go ride your bike somewhere else.
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Old 11-21-11, 05:19 AM
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Yes, go ride somewhere else. Unless you decide to sling an M4 across your back, you're extremely vulnerable on a bicycle.
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Old 11-21-11, 05:19 AM
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It seems that either I didn't accurately describe it, or you have the wrong idea. It isn't normally like this, it is actually a very friendly and safe place to ride. But lack of law enforcement seems to attract the wrong attention, and it is slowly getting out of hand. I am 18, so I am not a minor, and I didn't want to carry a weapon, I just wanted some tips on staying safe. As for using a different route, well, it's almost out of the question. If I use the trail, it takes me 10 minutes to get to my college. If I use the road, it takes twice as long, and is just as dangerous. I usually ride with my sibling and a two friends when we ride to the gym or to class, so I needed tips for riding alone.

I also would like tips on how I can push them to get the local PD to patrol the trail. I have called them, and I have e-mailed them, and they haven't yet replied. I have revised my main post so people don't get the wrong idea, and can give me more accurate information.

Last edited by Axiom; 11-21-11 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 11-21-11, 05:38 AM
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I guess you edited out the bit about the concealed carry permit, which would explain why the replies you got don't appear to align with the question you're now asking.

When you ask about what you should carry to keep yourself safe (as you originally did, even if not with that precise form of words) you'll get the kind of responses you got. Now you're asking about how to encourage law enforcement to patrol the area which is a different question entirely.

I'd hazard a guess that law enforcement will patrol based on the intelligence they receive and how inclined they are to address a specific problem. In theory telling them about issues with crime there might encourage them to patrol but in practise they'll have any number of people who want extra patrols in many areas and they probably don't have the resources to respond to every request.

It's also worth considering that even if you do get increased patrols out there, the chances are the criminals are't going to wait until they've got an audience to attack someone. If this is a multi-use path there's probably very little the police can do to move along a group of people who are sitting enjoying the views. So the police go through the area, see a group of people enjoying the view, then a cyclist goes through and the group relieves the cyclist of his bike and any valuables.

I'm a bit puzzled why you regard an alternative route as "out of the question" when "twice as long" means "an extra 10 minutes". Is saving 10 minutes worth going through an area that has potentially major crime issues? Honestly, that sounds like the same kind of reasoning that leads people to take shortcuts through dingy unlit alleyways where they might save a few minutes, assuming they actually make it through safely.

How is the road "just as dangerous"? Are you likely to fall victim to crime on the road, or are you concerned about the volume or speed of the traffic? Obviously you have to consider all the risks to your safety here and if you get run over the end result is much the same as if you get shot. Is there no alternative route, even if it is longer, that avoids both busy main roads and trails where undesirables gather?
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Old 11-21-11, 05:49 AM
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For heaven sake, your profile says you're an 18 year old MAN!?
America must be a very dangerous place if a grown man can not be safe in the street.

Giving advice on something like personal safety is hard. You know what you can and can not do. Or you even don't know that if you haven't had bad situations before.

Generaly, try to avoid risky situations. If different route is out of the question, you can change path (side of road etc). Choose a path that allows you to see what's around you, where you have a chance to escape if you are ambushed. Approaching a bush, or a wall corner, be away from it so nobody can just push you off the bike behind it. Carry good lights if you're in the dark, a head mounted one is good for checking areas around you.

Avoid bling. Make your bike look dirty (drivetrain, shifters etc should be clean, the rest muddy as hell). No fancy clothes, watches, mobiles etc. When robbers look at you they should think: "this is a grown man that could give us trouble (gun, knife, who knows what) AND he doesn't look like a wealthy one, he's some poor son of a *****". You can change clothes when you arrive anywhere, so women don't avoid you as well.

On top of all that, some martial arts, pepper spray, folding battons etc are good - but only if you know how to use them and know it very well.


Quick eyes, brain and legs are your best friend. Scan and avoid bad situations.
Or practice martial arts and become a vigilante local superhero!
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Old 11-21-11, 05:53 AM
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Sounds like you are on the south end of the Trail. There are some very good alternate routes. PM me and I can help with that. How about finding a schoolmate to ride with in the evening (the time when it is most hazardous)?

I have been riding the Trail almost daily since it opened (and before the pavement was put down back in the late 1980s), and have not had trouble, but I do like a few alternate routes on the south end.

There is crime lots of places, but it seems the local press publishes Trail incidents more. Of course, some goes unreported.
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Old 11-21-11, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by contango View Post
I guess you edited out the bit about the concealed carry permit, which would explain why the replies you got don't appear to align with the question you're now asking.

When you ask about what you should carry to keep yourself safe (as you originally did, even if not with that precise form of words) you'll get the kind of responses you got. Now you're asking about how to encourage law enforcement to patrol the area which is a different question entirely.

I'd hazard a guess that law enforcement will patrol based on the intelligence they receive and how inclined they are to address a specific problem. In theory telling them about issues with crime there might encourage them to patrol but in practise they'll have any number of people who want extra patrols in many areas and they probably don't have the resources to respond to every request.

It's also worth considering that even if you do get increased patrols out there, the chances are the criminals are't going to wait until they've got an audience to attack someone. If this is a multi-use path there's probably very little the police can do to move along a group of people who are sitting enjoying the views. So the police go through the area, see a group of people enjoying the view, then a cyclist goes through and the group relieves the cyclist of his bike and any valuables.

I'm a bit puzzled why you regard an alternative route as "out of the question" when "twice as long" means "an extra 10 minutes". Is saving 10 minutes worth going through an area that has potentially major crime issues? Honestly, that sounds like the same kind of reasoning that leads people to take shortcuts through dingy unlit alleyways where they might save a few minutes, assuming they actually make it through safely.

How is the road "just as dangerous"? Are you likely to fall victim to crime on the road, or are you concerned about the volume or speed of the traffic? Obviously you have to consider all the risks to your safety here and if you get run over the end result is much the same as if you get shot. Is there no alternative route, even if it is longer, that avoids both busy main roads and trails where undesirables gather?
I did edit that out as I felt it wasn't appropriate. Even if I was 21 I probably wouldn't carry a weapon with me while I ride. I suppose you are right, I need to re-evaluate my route to school and the gym, and I need to steer clear of using the trail in the first place. As far as the roads go, they are dangerous where I live. One of my buddies that I ride with has been hit three time in the past two years (the other drivers were at fault of course).

As far as my age goes, I am legally considered a man, and I can defend myself quite well, but there isn't much I can do when someone has a gun pointed at me. Although I am making this seem a bit extreme I am just trying to make it clear that this trail can be very dangerous.
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Old 11-21-11, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Axiom View Post
Lately there has been a huge spike in crime on the trail that I ride on (Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail). It has become a popular loitering spot for both criminals and the homeless. What worries me is that I am going to be riding alone and I may suddenly get ambushed by a group with weapons.

Now, it might seem far fetched, but this trail seems to be crime heavy. The latest report was a grandmother and her granddaughter were robbed and then shot with an assault rifle. Really? An assault rifle? A week before that a group of teenagers ambushed a man in his early thirties, beat him, and rode off with a $1,500 road bike.

I can go on and on, but for the sake of keeping this as short as possible, I won't. Basically, I am asking you all for tips on staying safe when I ride alone. I have also taken the liberty to e-mail my city hall and local PD requesting that they get their officers to patrol the trail by bike. They do have police they travel by a bicycle, but I have never seen them on the trail.

I want to make this clear -- This trail isn't crime infested, but the lack of law enforcement on the trail is slowly attracting the wrong attention, and it may come to that point. It is normally a safe and peaceful place to ride, walk your dog, or go for a jog, but I feel as if urging law enforcement to patrol those areas would deter any criminals and would give everyone peace of mind. Also keep in mind that
That is a tough one.

My take..

I am 71, and just did my 3rd ride on a trail. However, this trail seems to be in a well kept area and seemingly crimefree area. Although some spots look lonely, there has been no case for alarm. In your case, I would stay off THAT TRAIL, and ride ones that are almost crime free. Or only ride when you have at least 1 or 2 more riders with you. The other alternative, to carry a 1911 with a spare clip, and at the first sign of danger arm yourself.

luck to you
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Old 11-21-11, 07:20 AM
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There have been periodic problems like that on one of the trails I ride on though almost always well after dark when there's fewer people on the trail (and fewer chances of a witness coming by), - not during commute times.

Local law enforcement isn't on the trail enough to make a difference but they did start "bike patrols" which is basically a collection of volunteers that ride on the trails non-stop during the evening. They report anybody that looks suspicious.

As far as what you can do yourself:

1. find somebody to ride with

2. ride fast

3. keep your eyes open. Look for anybody off to the sides. Typically the way they work is to have one guy knock the victim off their bike then one or two others jump them while on the ground. Don't be reluctant to turn around of you if see something doesn't look right to you.
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Old 11-21-11, 08:13 AM
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Crime like this is usually from criminals that live nearby. Look at a map and see whats near the trail. I ride the Silver Comet Trail The South end has some sketchy hoods near it and thats where the crime usually happens. Roving gangs of Teenagers and Thugs. You WILL find the same thing is true on your trail.
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Old 11-21-11, 08:52 AM
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Maybe you should be commuting by Stryker or Blackhawk.
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Old 11-21-11, 09:22 AM
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Contact your local newspaper/ TV outlet? Squeaky wheel syndrome.
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Old 11-21-11, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Axiom View Post
I did edit that out as I felt it wasn't appropriate. Even if I was 21 I probably wouldn't carry a weapon with me while I ride. I suppose you are right, I need to re-evaluate my route to school and the gym, and I need to steer clear of using the trail in the first place. As far as the roads go, they are dangerous where I live. One of my buddies that I ride with has been hit three time in the past two years (the other drivers were at fault of course).

As far as my age goes, I am legally considered a man, and I can defend myself quite well, but there isn't much I can do when someone has a gun pointed at me. Although I am making this seem a bit extreme I am just trying to make it clear that this trail can be very dangerous.
All good points, as you say there's not a lot you can do if someone has a gun pointed at you. Even if you have a gun of your own you'd have to retrieve it, aim it and fire (all while riding one-handed) and hope your would-be assailant doesn't realise what's going on and put a stop to it with their own gun.

Regarding your riding buddy who got hit three times, it's easy to say "the drivers were at fault of course" but if I knew someone who had been hit three times in two years I'd at least consider that their riding wasn't up to scratch as well. To be hit once is unlucky, but if the same person gets hit time after time one has to wonder whether they are truly 100% free of blame. Of course it may be your buddy is just truly very unlucky, but it may also be that he is doing something that at least contributes to being hit.
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Old 11-21-11, 11:17 AM
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Ride with someone, even if its just random stranger gong the same way. Use lights before it starts to get dark, stay alert.

Try to find out who manages the trail, write a letter to the organization telling them of the problem, even if they already know about it - the squeaky wheel gets the oil as another poster noted. Find out if they have public meetings to discuss issues about the trail, attend the meeting and speak up. Hopefully the police attend the meetings, if not press the organization to get a police representative to attend.
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Old 11-21-11, 12:05 PM
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First off, do you have a link about the grandmother/granddaughter who were shot with an "assault rifle" ? Quite often the press will sensationalize a story. I'm not doubting you, I'd just like to read the story to give it a reality check.

As to what to do, well simply be aware, be aware of your surroundings, be aware of ambush points, and be aware that if you are too focused on being aware to the crime potential then you soon will no longer be aware of the enjoyment of riding your bike, so be aware of staying aware of your cycling. Some people get so focused on the dangers of riding in traffic that they no longer enjoy riding and give it up because it is too dangerous.

There is a rail-trail near where I live that goes through a section of trees away from the roadway and any houses, fairly well secluded. There is also a county jail just down the road where there are a lot of work-release inmates. The county jail also acts as a holding facility for some Federal prisoners for the Illinois based Federal court system. So, basically, anyone on the trail could be a recreationalist, another cyclist, or someone convicted of drunk driving who is using the trail to go to work or back to jail, or someone visiting a higher profile inmate and who didn't want to park on the courthouse property due to a variety of potential reasons. So basically anyone I encounter on that trail section, especially at night, could be anyone from "nothing to worry about" to "someone you don't want to run into in a dark alley" . So I just avoid that section of trail at night by taking a mile detour to the main roadway that parallels the trail. Daytime no problem, nighttime I take additional precautions.

And do take note as someone above suggested of neighboring areas that the trail passes through. But beyond that try not to worry too much about it, make some adjustments in your route at different times of day, and carry on. Quite often the worry about a criminal is out-weighed by the soccer mom who was paying more attention to her kids in the backseat than on the road ahead, and not to single out soccer moms because any driver can be distracted and inattentive distracted drivers are a graver concern to cyclists than random criminal behavior and criminal activity in a particular area. It's the ones you don't see, and the ones who don't see you, that end up getting you.

Have a good ride, be aware, stay safe, but do try to enjoy the ride. Life is too short to be in a constant state of fret and worry.
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Old 11-21-11, 12:46 PM
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I have a Kyptonite U-lock and have almost had to use it as a weapon once. The attacker backed away and left me alone. Carry pepper spray but be aware that the wind can have an effect on it.
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Old 11-21-11, 01:06 PM
  #21  
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Jeez, dude. We have the occaisional jogger who is assaulted, sexually or otherwise, on our trails, but nothing like that in Philly. I think the best you can do is take your chances and ride really fast. Also, get some serious flat-resistant tires.
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Old 11-21-11, 01:08 PM
  #22  
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Find a different route. If all the criminals are hanging out on the trail, take the roads they've vacated.

Or go peaceful warrior on them, like Timmy Treadwell. Say "No, that's a bad criminal!"

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Old 11-21-11, 01:37 PM
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Me: "Doctor, Doctor! I hurt in 3 places!"
Doctor: "Stay out of them 3 places!"

There are a few areas on some of my routes that i would not ride alone at night. As much as i think i can protect myself, if i am down on the ground repairing my tire or some other bike problem, i am even more vulnerable.
I will do the long route to avoid that, i just feel more at ease not having to worry about every little rustle of bushes, or moving wispy shadows.
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