A group repping Baltimore’s cyclists is petitioning the city for better security along the Jones Falls Trail following a bump in assaults on cyclists traveling a stretch of the path between Station North and Hampden.
Two such incidents were reported to city police this past Sunday, Det. Jeremy Silbert confirmed in an email. Eight to 10 juveniles surrounded the victims in both cases, according to arrest reports; “Get off the bike,” one of them said before knocking the rider off and absconding with his bicycle, according to the report. In the other case, the teens are accused of stealing the victim’s bike, glasses and phone.
Liz Cornish, executive director of the advocacy group Bikemore, said on a phone call that the city has seen “an uptick over this last month” for such incidents.
There’s a strategy to the perpetrators’ approach, she said: “A group of kids wait at the bottom of the switchbacks” – sharp curves located along a downhill entrance near the Stieff Silver Building in Hampden – “and they block off the exit from the trail. Once you’re down, you’re not going to be able to climb back up at a rate of speed faster than someone who can outrun you.”
(Not all of these altercations involve teens, Cornish noted. In May, a man parked his pickup across the path and verbally assaulted a woman riding by, she said.)
Her organization is now coordinating with volunteers to station themselves in groups along the switchbacks, “to have added presence and eyes on the street and trail,” according to a post on Bikemore’s website.
They’ll also be asking passersby to sign a petition calling on the Baltimore Police Department to regularly patrol the area, and for the city to clear brush along the trail to increase visibility and add emergency call boxes, lights and cameras.
Cornish said the Department of Recreation and Parks obliged a previous request to cut brush back along the trail during the spring. “They were very responsive,” she said. Now, they’re elevating their request to ask that the brush be removed entirely.
Click here to view the petition and the planned schedule of two-hour shifts for volunteers.
Police haven’t responded to a request for comment on Bikemore’s petition.
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