Bike paths, personal safety and MAP-21

This is the time of year when we start to hear occasional reports of strong arm attacks against evening bike commuters on remote, isolated bike paths. Thugs with baseball bats and pipes loiter along the side of the path. When a lone target zips by, the bad guys swing their bat, knock the cyclist from his or her bike, steal the cyclist’s backpack and ride away on the bike.

I know a few women who don’t ride on bike paths after dark because of personal safety concerns. Bike paths are usually not lit well at night and are generally unpopulated. In many areas, bike trails aren’t even officially open to the public at night. Only rarely are bike trails patrolled at night.

Senators Barbara Boxer and James Inhofe would force these women to ride on dark, potentially unsafe trails should their MAP-21 highway authorization bill become law. MAP-21 is the spending bill that would ban bikes from certain roads under Federal jurisdiction under the guise of “bicycle safety.”

I have Google News alerts for bicycle related topics. I don’t look specifically for attacks on bike paths or bike trails, but I see these kinds of stories on a daily basis. Here’s what I found today after five minutes of searching:

Dear Senator Boxer, please remove the “Bicycle Safety” mandatory sidepath law from S.1813.

11 Comments

  • Anonymous
    November 10, 2011 - 4:41 pm | Permalink

    This is a problem here in New Haven county, Connecticut as well. One problem is that the ‘bike path’ is seen as a recreational park by both the state and the towns through which it passes. No attempt is made to develop any infrastructure for safety. There’s no lights and it’s unplowed in the winter. The southernmost section does run through Yale University which has put up some lighting near their campus and installed emergency phone boxes so that’s something.

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  • November 12, 2011 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

    How about some state police on bikes?  I see lots of Boston PD on bikes these days, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a statie or a forest ranger on a bike.

  • November 16, 2011 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    And sometimes this happens.

  • November 16, 2011 - 10:55 am | Permalink

    Ah yes, there’s always those killer waves!

  • November 16, 2011 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    There’s a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park who patrols on a Brompton (or at least he used to — don’t know about nowadays).

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  • Sukhumi1992
    January 22, 2012 - 2:47 pm | Permalink

    The first time I went to jog at American River Bike Trail few years ago, I was attacked by someone even though it was on Sunday at around 11am. There is one area where not many people are passing by, and he was waiting for me at that spot because he knew I will have to pass it to get to my car. He attacked me from behind, cover my mouth with his hand and started to drag me out of path. Since he was a tall big guy and I am small petite woman, at first I thought there was no chance for me to get out of this situation. Then I realized that I had to do everything I could to save myself and I was able to get his hand out of my mouth and started to yell as loud as I can, I bet he didn’t expect that to happen, so I felt his hands didn’t hold me as tight, so I started to fight and got away. I didnt call a police, I was hysterical. I was in a shower probably for the whole hour and still could feel his smell. I was lucky that time, but I don’t take any chances. I was attacked after that couple of times more, once at 5 am at the parking lot at my work, and once early morning on my way to my car to go to work. So the danger is real, so please be safe, especially on bike trails.

  • Sukhumi1992
    January 22, 2012 - 2:47 pm | Permalink

    The first time I went to jog at American River Bike Trail few years ago, I was attacked by someone even though it was on Sunday at around 11am. There is one area where not many people are passing by, and he was waiting for me at that spot because he knew I will have to pass it to get to my car. He attacked me from behind, cover my mouth with his hand and started to drag me out of path. Since he was a tall big guy and I am small petite woman, at first I thought there was no chance for me to get out of this situation. Then I realized that I had to do everything I could to save myself and I was able to get his hand out of my mouth and started to yell as loud as I can, I bet he didn’t expect that to happen, so I felt his hands didn’t hold me as tight, so I started to fight and got away. I didnt call a police, I was hysterical. I was in a shower probably for the whole hour and still could feel his smell. I was lucky that time, but I don’t take any chances. I was attacked after that couple of times more, once at 5 am at the parking lot at my work, and once early morning on my way to my car to go to work. So the danger is real, so please be safe, especially on bike trails.

  • January 22, 2012 - 4:25 pm | Permalink

    That’s awful. I’ve heard of similar situations.  THanks for sharing your story — hopefully it will help bring awareness to the importance of public safety on our trails.

  • January 22, 2012 - 4:25 pm | Permalink

    That’s awful. I’ve heard of similar situations.  THanks for sharing your story — hopefully it will help bring awareness to the importance of public safety on our trails.

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