ATTACK ON JAIL TRAIL!?!

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spakbros
Participant
#

Hey everybody, my girlfriend was almost assaulted on the jail trail tonight, be carefull.

She was riding home from the SS works to the run around 11:45 pm when she encountered a white male around 35 with a beard walking in the middle of the dark part of the path before the parking lot. She passed him and he started yelling at her and chased her all the way down to saline st. BE CAREFULL if you are riding this path late. She managed to escape but wrecked herself and her bike going over the tracks.

This is my worst nightmare realized and I feel very fortunate that she escaped relatively unharmed. I believe, based on the description, that this is the hobo that squats by the railroad tracks in lower greenfield.

Be carefull out there……..


rachel_ding
Participant
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I’m sorry to hear about this. This is also one of my worst fears! I’m glad she’s relatively ok.


scott
Keymaster
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i just commented on this on the NTMTO board, but i’m really glad she’s ok. that’s very scary. those trails need to be lighted with easy access for police to get to.

for those of you who haven’t read this yet, it’s a good rant on the dangers of separate bike paths.

http://la.streetsblog.org/2010/01/05/the-case-against-bike-paths/


erok
Keymaster
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man that sucks. she’s had some bad luck recently, huh?


Ohiojeff
Participant
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@spak That does suck and I’m glad to hear it wasn’t any worse than it was.

Does anyone know if improving the lighting down there and possibly adjusting the access to the trail so one doesn’t have to choose between the horrible chute on 2nd ave or crossing the tracks is on any agenda for future city bike plans?


Lou F.
Participant
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Happy to hear your girl friend is okay. It’s a good warning for us all. Once it starts to get dark early I avoid the trail. The one night I didn’t I came across a motley crew walking aimlessly. No problems, but a firm reminder.


Kordite
Participant
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The Eliza Furnace Trail does have easy access to police. I will see motorcycle cops on the trail (and on the Junction Hollow Trail) from time to time and I know that full size cars will occasionally patrol the trail. Well, not so much patrol as drive down once a week at about 9pm.

I saw an ambulance come off the trail once. Not sure if they were administering to someone who had gotten injured on the trail or were using it as a shortcut to avoid rush hour traffic. Saw a Public Works truck get on the trail between the Birmingham Bridge and Swinburne St. He was clearly using the trail as a ruch hour shortcut.


raphael
Participant
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this illustrates the problem that people without cars face in Pittsburgh, especially close to or on that specific trail. For example, the city makes the trail, but does not light it. The city makes the pedestrian bridge, lights it, but does not salt or plow it. It’s the apparent lack of foresight by the city that makes us shake our heads and say well, it’s better than nothing I guess…


Kordite
Participant
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I will say that the Hot Metal Bridge has seen the plow’s blade this year. Quite often, actually, although whatever plow is used does not clear down to the trail surface. Better than nothing.


brian j
Participant
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I will say that the Hot Metal Bridge has seen the plow’s blade this year.

Yep. Compared to last year, the trail conditions have generally been pretty good, given the amount of snow we’ve received already.

Re: the danger of separate paths–I agree, but I think the city and county did a decent job of making lemonade out of lemons with those paths. I’d also be curious to see statistics comparing the number of assaults on the various trails in the city v. city streets. I wonder if that while the trails may not be the safest places at 11:30 PM, they are statistically safer than riding in, say, parts of Oakland at the same time.


Ohiojeff
Participant
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although whatever plow is used does not clear down to the trail surface. Better than nothing.

This should probably be a different thread but

I always wonder, if they do plow all the way down to the trail surface, will the plow blade then tear up the cement or pavement? Potholes can be made bigger by plow blades. It might be a good thing they’re not plowing all the way to pavement.


erok
Keymaster
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I agree, there was definitely a lack of foresight among some of this stuff, but don’t think it’s unique to pittsburgh.

nyc’s west side highway bike path, when it gets toward the north, follows under an elevated highway, and it is pitch black under there. the first time i rode it, i thought to myself, “i can’t believe there aren’t more bike on bike crashes here” and then i rolled up to a scene where a dude was lying on the ground cause he just crashed with another cyclist. they may have lit it by now tho.

in sf, the panhandle “bike” path is not only unlit, but at night the path is in the direct spray of the park’s sprinkler system.

with that said, i don’t think we should just accept how it is, but continually demand better, safer improvements. brian’s right, the city did do a decent job making lemonade with the lemons they were given. now we just need to add the sugar.


sloaps
Participant
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non-profits scrape together enough money and volunteers for capital work – property, trail path, bridges and tunnel. And then expect their public works to pick up the slack with existing budget and existing personnel.

FYI all trail bridges outside of Pittsburgh – Montour and such are under the responsibility of Allegheny County DPW. Maintenance was never ironed out, so don’t expect the Riverton Bridge to be clear of ice, snow or other debris.


erok
Keymaster
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it was only a few years ago that the jail trail got added to the list of city streets to be plowed


alankhg
Participant
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That West Side Highway path in NY is really bad. The under-the-highway park is workable but I lived at 146th this summer, and up past 110th the path was unrideable after dark even with a strong headlight because the path was unlit and you got headlight glare from every single car in the world. Fortunately Riverside Drive was nearly always empty when I was riding home after dark, but it must be baaad this time of year.


pogil
Participant
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@kordite @jeffinpgh I’ve seen the plow in use on the junction hollow trail, and it is actually a big spinning brush. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what they’re using on other trails. It’s probably designed for the unevenness for sidewalks, which may be why it doesn’t reliably clear all the way down to the pavement.


the beast
Participant
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Erok said: “the city did do a decent job making lemonade with the lemons they were given. now we just need to add the sugar.”

I like that saying, I think it is a great response to make people aware that they need to do a part as well.


erok
Keymaster
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@alan: the West Side Highway Path is still unlit? it’s been a few year’s for me


alankhg
Participant
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Erok: I don’t remember it being too bad under the highway in the 60s though I’m not sure it was lit. Up past 100th St. there’s huge glare from the oncoming traffic on the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is a couple of feet away.


Kordite
Participant
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> it is actually a big spinning brush.

I was sort of guessing that since the edges of the plowed path lacked the piled up snow berm owere it plowed.

But, back to the personal safety issue. Is a dark trail really more dangerous then, say, a lighted street? Sure, the risk of being physically assaulted is higher in dark, unlit areas but how does that risk compare to the dangers of sharing streets with cars and potholes? Are our fears justified?


erok
Keymaster
#

it’s true. while we should be aware when these things happen, it’s not time to get too worked up. but even if the fears aren’t justified, there is still the perception issue, as well as being somewhere where if something did happen, there’d be absolutely no one around to here cries for help


spakbros
Participant
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right on Erok, the issue with an unlit secluded trail is that there is no chance of anyone hearing you/ seeing the assault. True, this shit can and does happen everywhere but humans have an evolved sense of knowing the tenor of a frightened scream. I have bolted out of bed from a deep sleep before because I heard a woman scream in Oakland. It turns out it was my roommate having a night terror but I was outside with a flashlight and a pitbull in under a minute running around the block looking for someone being attacked.

Kristina is back on the bike and armed with pepper spray and the reinforced knowlege to trust her gut and react differently in the future.

It might be technically more dangerous to ride in the street with cars and potholes but it’s a different type of fear. When you take to the streets you have a measure (albeit small) of control over your fate or at least feel that way. Being assaulted by someone on a dark trail is something that you have little or no control over.


88MS88
Participant
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Glad she’s okay and back on the bike. Ride on sister!


Kordite
Participant
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Fears may be unjustified but concerns are not, so long as they are put in the proper perspective.

For example, people fear terrorism and thus are willing to have the government do all sorts of invasions of their privacy to keep them safe. People don’t fear being struck by lightning even though you are twice as likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed in a terrorist attack.

We understand lightning. We understand it is a possibility, however remote, and most of us take reasonable precautions by not standing under trees or playing golf during a thunderstorm. I believe that other risks; terrorism, personal assaults (much more likely) and auto accidents (even more likely), should be treated the same way.

Be prepared. Don’t Panic.


bikefind
Participant
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Glad to hear Kristina’s armed and riding. Where’s the best place to keep your pepper spray when you’re riding? (I’m thinking you want really easy access, but with no risk of accidentally spraying yourself, and can’t imagine what that translates into on a bike.)


Mick
Participant
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Relative danger: there is a big difference in experience between things that just happen vs things that are done to you.

I carashed once, got a bunch of stiches, road rash, smashed hands/impaired guitar playing for a month or two. If was only a bit traumatic.

If that had been deliberate violence? It would have been a life changing experience.

If I go hiking in the woods and a branch slaps my face? No big. If a person slaps my face? Different.

So terrorism is worse than the arbitray lightning strike. Murder is worse than being killed in an accident.

Being waylaid in an isolated place is worse than having a traffic accident, even if the physical damage is similar.

Not sure exactly why this is or how it makes sense, but I believe it’s true for most people.

Mick


netviln
Participant
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spakbros
Participant
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that looks alright, I think the best place is probably on your bag strap, assuming you have one, right up against your chest. I have been thinking about getting some for dogs if nothing else


bikefind
Participant
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thanks guys!


sloaps
Participant
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As I was riding from panther hollow to the southside this evening, I saw a patrol car on the jail trail around 8pm traveling eastbound.

I posted also on the twitters.

Is this a regular thing, or are they increasing patrols because of this incident? Nice to know they’re looking out for us either way…


Kordite
Participant
#

I periodically see motorcycles on the Eliza Furnace and Junction Hollow trails, typically in the afternoons at rush hour. Tracks in the snow indicate that patrol cars make a run or two a week in the evenings on the Eliza Furnace Trail. I can’t say that I’ve seen an increase in patrolling.


brian j
Participant
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So has anybody seen statistics from places like PDX and MPLS where separate paths are pretty common?

My impression, too, is that the statistics often used to say “bike paths are dangerous” can be at least slightly misleading. I suspect that many bike path users are less saavy than riders who deal with traffic on a regular basis, thus causing more accidents on the trail, and more accidents at road crossings.


erok
Keymaster
#

not to mention more cyclists, increasing the probability of one


Lyle
Participant
#

I suspect that it’s a combination of various factors:

(a) less savvy users

(b) children and rollerbladders and dogs

(c) headphones

(d) rules-hating-anarchists

(e) poorly-defined and unenforced rules

(f) haphazard design of intersections and road crossings

On point e: there was a fatality in NYC recently when a (drunk) motorist arrived at an intersection and mistakenly drove down the Hudson River bike path.


Mick
Participant
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Bjanasec My impression, too, is that the statistics often used to say “bike paths are dangerous” can be at least slightly misleading.

After reading Forester’s “Effective Cycling,” I’ve considered going to the engineering library and tracking down those studies that he claims to show paths are more dangerous. There were some things in the way he presented stuff that made me think the studies didn’t say exactly what Forester claimed they did.

A few hours in a good engineering library might clear this up. Although maybe not – Forester is very old stuff and they put old tech journals in storage.

Most (if not all) of the documented claims I’ve seen for the danger of bike paths use Forester as their reference.

Mick


Lyle
Participant
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Yeah, Mick, I think some of his statistical presentations are fishy too. It’s so hard to find statistics that aren’t horribly flawed and sometimes the flaws are so huge you think that the authors must have done it on purpose.

I saw a paper about “serious injuries and fatalities” that said that the rate of such had declined by 20% over a few years, but on closer examination, it turned out there were 9 fatalities one year and 11 the next, but the number of serious injuries (reported) was 280 the first year and 250 the next, so the authors lumped the two together and reported a misleading claim. (I don’t remember the exact numbers, but this was the gist of it).

Another analysis claimed “no deaths in bike lanes”, but the reality was that there had been several dooring incidents which flung cyclists farther into the street, where they then died.

There is such a thing as an honest mistake, but these go way beyond that.

I wish I could find an author whose statistical analyses I can trust. I think the Cross & Fisher study is pretty honest, as far as it goes, but it’s really old now.


Ohiojeff
Participant
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@mick, you can download something called the “Effective Cycling Manual” 6th edition here

http://www.johnforester.com/

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