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Biking in a bad area of town

Old 08-15-08, 10:21 AM
  #1  
littledog
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Biking in a bad area of town

This was in the paper a couple days ago

RRSTAR.COM
Posted Aug 13, 2008 @ 12:33 AM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ROCKFORD ó A bullet left a 3-inch gash on the side of a teenís head after he was shot Monday night near Jefferson Street and Miriam Avenue.

Police said the 17-year-old was riding his bicycle about 11 p.m. with a friend when they were approached by a group of eight men. The teenís friend was pushed off his bicycle. When the teen went to aid his friend, a gun was fired, grazing his temple. A family member transferred the boy to Rockford Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released. The teen who was pushed off his bicycle was not injured.

In order for me to get to the BMX park to see the races I need to ride through this section of town. I tried it a couple of times last year but won't do it anymore. Does anyone else here have to deal with riding in areas like this? Or do you just avoid it at all costs?
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Old 08-15-08, 11:13 AM
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There are several threads related to commuting through bad parts of town. If i remember right the consensus was to try and do it with a friend, especially if you are a girl. Some people recommended bear mace and I would generally agree, maybe get a bento box that sits near your stem for such an occasion. Other said they ride through those sections of town as fast as their legs to carry them reasoning that a bike doing 25 mph is harder to mug than a bike doing 10 mph. Do a search for that thread and just use some common sense while riding. You are about 300 time more likely to get hit by a stupid driver, even in some of the nicest neighborhoods, than get mugged/shot in one of the bad. Always try and keep things in perspective
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Old 08-15-08, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by littledog View Post
Does anyone else here have to deal with riding in areas like this? Or do you just avoid it at all costs?
That is a very sad story but you don't have all the facts.

I lived in a bad neighborhood for a year when our city's murder rate peaked--6 people died from gunshots within a block radius on my spot within terms of my lease--but all the violence around us was drug related. One double murder was extremely tragic because it was people out late who witnessed something they shouldn't have. Only time I was ever hassled was on the 4th of July when drunk relatives felt it appropriate to yell at the white boy who they did not know lived on the next corner.

Bottom line is that during the day you are likely fine as long as you aren't holding or moving in on someone's territory. If you live in the area always say hello to your neighbors and be nice to the panhandlers. Don't give them money, since they will then start to expect it, but don't give them a hard time and acknowledge them.

If you don't live there, don't let your eye's wander, focus on getting where you are going, and don't give an attitude to someone who may let you know that you stand out a bit. And, of course, stay on the main roads.
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Old 08-15-08, 02:51 PM
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One thing that i forgot to mention is that i mostly ride a 20" BMX or a BMX cruiser(24") So I cannot cycle very fast. Another thing is that I would be afraid to use pepper spray as that could get me shot. Fear is real as it is a very bad area and yet I love watching the races and doing a few laps on the track after the races are over.

I have read several threads on this in the commuter forum and yet I am still undecided on what to do. I can't afford to rent a car and have no one to give me a ride. There is no public transportation going there.
Being car free for only two years now,I find that I still have a lot to learn.
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Old 08-15-08, 03:11 PM
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Get a little sign to hang off the back of the bike that says "Driver carries not cash" ! Just a thought...
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Old 08-16-08, 07:05 AM
  #6  
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I just found this thread in commuting "My first commute thru the ghettos of baltimore " and it answered my question.

It is just a matter of being aware and using discernment.
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Old 08-16-08, 08:42 AM
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I ride through every part of DC. What I don't like about the "bad" areas is the broken glass and trash. I don't deal with people very well. I don't like to go into areas with a lot of criminal activity at night. Since I'm not a participant in the criminal activity, I'm a potential witness so not welcome. When one of the local crew is trying to size you up it helps to ask directions or something to let him or her know your business there. The more worisome people are the younger kids who are still fighting for their role on the streets. They do stupid things just to show the older ones how tough they are. There is often what I call a "body language of guilt" when they're up to something. Of course if they're really targeting YOU, things will happen too fast for you to think. The unskilled ones will give you warning, of course it is also the unskilled ones who will do something stupid too. The story about the 11pm attack reads to me like the bikers had some relationship with the attackers. But, one time coming home from visiting my daughter at 11pm I pedaled past a group of about 8 excited teenage boys. They were yelling and carrying on. When they saw me on my dorky recumbent a couple ran out in the street at me like they were going to push me off it. No shots were fired. It would be pretty stupid to shoot at me for nothing but then teenage boys do stupid things.
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Old 08-16-08, 09:10 AM
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CCW. Glock. Paddle Holster. Hollow Points.
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Old 08-16-08, 10:25 AM
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Gun nuts aside, if you're not riding through too late past dark there's no problems. I go through about 15 blocks of projects on my commute and I just keep to myself, try not to look at anybody, obey all traffic rules to a tee in order to keep from any possible confrontation. I don't even get heckled and people are used to seeing "whities" on the stretch of road I take (it connects the edge of Philadelphia to the University of Pennsylvania) and don't bother me. Coming home when it's dark by 6 might be a little different, but I won't know until the winter.
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Old 08-16-08, 06:14 PM
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I'm black, don't ride a flashy bicycle or helmet (or any cycling clothes for that matter), so no one bothers me in the bad parts of town during my early morning commutes. I suppose to the casual observer I look like one those homeless guys who happen to have a bicycle. Except, I ride a fixed gear and I'm slightly better dressed. I've always wondered how do they keep their tires from getting flat. repair their tubes when they get a flat.

Most of the people on the streets in the early mornings (6 a.m.) will be homeless men, very small time drug dealers, and prostitutes. They aren't looking to bother anyone. If any thing, I would be more likely to be bothered on my ride back in the late afternoons when the young wanna-be gangsters are out and about.
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Old 08-16-08, 11:05 PM
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I ride though questionable parts of town a few times a week, and I've never once had problems, in the daytime or at night. I'm middle aged, white, and on a bike, so it's pretty obvious that I'm not much of a threat, nor am I a good target. Gang-type guys don't even have bikes on their radar at all. Walking is a bit more challenging. A couple of years ago, while walking across a mall parking lot, two young men tried to shake me down. I was a little perplexed at first, since I had little to no experience with that sort of thing, so I decided to just ask them what school they went to and where they lived, and they sort of got irritated and left.
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Old 08-17-08, 12:18 PM
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I live my whole life in a neighborhood that is considered 'bad' (though honestly it isnt all that bad) and basically people will leave you alone as long as you live hem alone. During the day it's like everywhere else, during the evenings and nights it can be troublesome, but it's mostly because of these dumbass teenagers trying to act like gangsters. Real gangsters have better (using this term very loosely) things to do then random acts of violence. Of course I wouldnt recommend riding through the middle of obvious gang activities. Mostly it come down to street smarts. If you think there's trouble, then most likely there is trouble. Get out of there and find another way around.
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Old 08-19-08, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
There are several threads related to commuting through bad parts of town. If i remember right the consensus was to try and do it with a friend, especially if you are a girl. Some people recommended bear mace and I would generally agree, maybe get a bento box that sits near your stem for such an occasion. Other said they ride through those sections of town as fast as their legs to carry them reasoning that a bike doing 25 mph is harder to mug than a bike doing 10 mph. Do a search for that thread and just use some common sense while riding. You are about 300 time more likely to get hit by a stupid driver, even in some of the nicest neighborhoods, than get mugged/shot in one of the bad. Always try and keep things in perspective
"a bike doing 25 mph is harder to mug than a bike doing 10 mph"?

25 mph bicycle commuter through a city? I wonder how many people can ride 25 mph to get to work that are not professional athletes. Better to stay home where it is safe and watch work on television.

Seriously, though, I have ridden through bad neighborhoods in the morning and afternoon. Most of the riff-raff are still sleeping until 5:00 or 6:00 PM.
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Old 08-19-08, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by mike View Post
Seriously, though, I have ridden through bad neighborhoods in the morning and afternoon. Most of the riff-raff are still sleeping until 5:00 or 6:00 PM.
When I worked in a "bad" area a car-free co-worker said not until after noon. She was a tiny frail looking woman who took the bus. As she neared retirement she worked part days leaving around lunch time or sometimes later. She called the riff-raff "junkies" and said they came out after about 1-2pm. Since she was so small and DC has strict weapons laws she just had her smart mouth to fend them off. They would try to intimidate her as she waited for the bus.
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Old 08-19-08, 09:32 PM
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I think waiting for the bus in a bad neighborhood is about the worse thing you can do. I lived in a bad neighborhood for many years and a bicycle is the best way to travel. In fact, it's even safer to travel than a car because you don't have to stop at the lights but yield to them.

I have some rules to follow in general. I time some of the lights, so I don't get stopped in front of a bunch of kids and have to stop. I avoid large groups of kids and in general, tend to go a little faster. I never reach 20 mph but 12 -15 is a good speed.

I think the fear of traveling in a bad neighborhood is really overrated. At the crack of dawn, it's safer than riding on a highway any day. A young guy asked me the other day, what road I used to cross the ghetto? I told him all roads were OK. He looked at me in disbelief!
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Old 08-20-08, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by talleymonster View Post
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Northern Illinois is one of those area's where rights have been revoked by lesser laws, rather than the removal of such rights.
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Old 08-20-08, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
I think waiting for the bus in a bad neighborhood is about the worse thing you can do.

A young guy asked me the other day, what road I used to cross the ghetto? I told him all roads were OK. He looked at me in disbelief!
+1

waiting for a bus just "standing around", you're pretty much a target. I try not to have to wait for buses in the hoods, that's what makes the bike better.
There are usually some roads that are better than others, even in the hoods. Given a choice, I'll take a relatively busy commercial street over a wasteland any day.

But in general, I'd agree with most people here that as long as you're just going about your own business, and keep to yourself, you should be just fine.
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Old 08-20-08, 01:13 PM
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Be aware, steer clear of trouble if possible. I've altered my route to avoid certain overgrown trails due to street moose.
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Old 08-20-08, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
I think waiting for the bus in a bad neighborhood is about the worse thing you can do.
No. Engaging in criminal activity AND flashing cash while you do so is much worse. Or either one of those two. By engaging with the crooks in their element you increase your chances of being a victim, if they see you have more cash than needed for the current transaction they'll try to set you up for a robbery.

When you wait at a bus stop you certainly use society's prejudices to camouflage yourself as a poor person. You don't even have cab fare how can you be carrying enough money to bother with? Plus, if you use the schedule a bus full of witnesses will arrive at any moment. Plus, if you look comfortable waiting for the bus in a bad neighborhood you might have the skills to deal with creeps. This is unlike the scared biker pedaling fast as he can, looking around nervously and timing lights so he doesn't have to stop and interact with the locals.
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