Panther hollow at night

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Erica
Participant
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So I’m going on a short ride tonight by myself, and as someone who’s paranoid about absolutely everything, the thought of riding the trail at night is a little scary. Has anyone ever had any run-ins here?


Kayla
Participant
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I havent. I’ve ridden through there a couple of times by myself in the dark (but not really late)…usually I’m with at least one other person. It’s creepy by yourself, less so if you have a bright headlight.


Erica
Participant
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I’ll make sure to use both of mine!

I usually only use one because the second one is kind of squirrelly, but they’re pretty bright together.

Thanks for the input!


Erica
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got about 50 ft into the trail, realized my light is nowhere near bright enough and turned around. It was almost scary enough to send me home, but I made my way to the birmingham bridge instead. It was a really nice night!


stefb
Participant
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I have ridden there with a really awful light when it was really dark. If you know where you are going, it isn’t so bad, but if you don’t, it can be problematic. Panther hollow is part of the reason I got a really bright light in the first place, though.


Pseudacris
Participant
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Yeah, you need a good light-more than just a front blinky. I’ve ridden through it at night a number of times and never been bothered. I did go through a few evenings ago and saw two cars parked just up from inside the gate on the Oakland side & thought it might be a drug deal, but the guys were far enough off & didn’t bother me.


wojty
Participant
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I rode through there several times without lights, with mixed results. The one time there was a lightning storm, I could see clear as day…when it flashed.

The other time involved having an incredibly close brush with a deer.

Bring a good light.


Pseudacris
Participant
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@RF, some of the LED flashlights are pretty inexpensive (<$5). If you can’t spring for a strong enough bike headlight, maybe try a flashlight mounted with the TwoFish Lockblock (~$10).

The Lockblock is very sturdy & easy to put onn & take off. The downside is that it’s harder to adjust the position of the beam as you ride along. Maybe there’s a way to put it on your helmet, but I haven’t tried that.


Ahlir
Participant
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I’ve ridden it into the late evening and it was fine, especially if the moon is out. But it does feel kind of spooky sometimes.


Erica
Participant
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It was pitch black, and I’m unfamiliar with the trail, so I just turned around.

I do remember riding it once when the moon was out and being fine, but last night was just too dark. I’m pretty scared of the dark.


boostuv
Participant
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Nick and I rode through there one night, it sucked. I only had my shitty light, there was a bunch of freshly poured gravel and I was on 28c tires. How I didnt eat shit I dont know…


BradQ
Participant
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Watch aht for bunnies.


eMcK
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Also watch for bike police riding two abreast on the trail with no lights…


mr marvelous
Participant
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@ BradQ not bunnies, its those evil Squirrels you have to watch out for. http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/topic/have-you-ever-had-a-really-bad-ride


salty
Participant
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I swear I saw a coyote down there once. Everytime I ride through there alone at night something spooks me out. Sorry I guess that’s not helping.


Pseudacris
Participant
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One thing I will add (’cause I just rode through part of Frick Park in pitch black): even if you have a good light, you can’t really see what’s lurking off to the sides outside of your beam. It feels like riding down a weird light tunnel and can be a little bit creepy. I think it’s good to be alert and have some self-defense / evasion tactics in mind. For the most part, Pittsburgh seems WAY safer than Seattle, but….

I have jammed on my brakes 4 or 5 times in the last couple of days for rabbits. Mostly the junior ones – including after dark in Frick. The trail just east of the Hot Metal bridge has TONS of rabbits right now.


Drewbacca
Participant
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OT “Pittsburgh seems WAY safer than Seattle” Where were you riding in Seattle? I always felt safer there personally, except when traveling from Downtown/ID to West Seattle.


Pseudacris
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@headloss: I should have been more specific…I lived there from 86-96 and bussed and walked everywhere. It was when the Green River Killer were still active, Mia Zapata was killed not far from my neighborhood, and several friends and classmates experienced assaults and/or near abductions in capitol hill, even when walking in pairs during the daytime.

[edit – Bundy was in prison, bu a co-worker had evaded him when he was still active]


Drewbacca
Participant
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Yikes! Capitol Hill has been cleaned up significantly then (2004-2010); the only regular issues that I recall had to do with muggings around Mercer Island.

I get a bit paranoid walking/riding around Oakland/CMU, much more so than I have ever been in Seattle… but then, I had a friend who was mugged during our time at Pitt which left a bad taste in my mouth. Although, in fairness there were a lot of issues on the Burke-Gilman… but they usually went after pedestrians near UW, not so much bicyclists.

*edit* I was also almost car-jacked once on the Blvd of the Allies, which also left a bad taste in my mouth. LOL

OK, sorry, no more OT :p


Pseudacris
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Yeah, I remember stuff happening around Burke-Gilman but I avoided it in those days and wasn’t cycling yet. Sorry about your friend – I guess it’s always good to be careful. Things are always changing.


Pseudacris
Participant
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Not really OT, since the original post is about personal safety at night. I regret not taking one of the self-defense classes that started to become popular after Zapata’s death.


Drewbacca
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There’s just something about bicycle self-defense… But seriously, yes, it would be nice to take a few classes considering we don’t have the extra safety of a steel cage that motorists have. Mr. Marvelous would have to learn snake-style kung fu to defend against those angry squirrels of course. ;)


Pseudacris
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Ha! I would love to see Jackie Chan take on some squirrels!


ieverhart
Participant
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I occasionally come up to Oakland from the South Side via the Hot Metal Bridge, the Jail Trail, the loop-de-loop to Second Avenue, and then the Panther Hollow Trail, and am sometimes creeped out when it’s too quiet. I scan ahead to see if someone is moving into position to “get” me but happily, have never found anyone. A handful of times, I round a corner and come upon pedestrians or other cyclists, and probably scared them with my startled shout. I often see the deer and rabbits mentioned by others.


Marko82
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caitlin
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I love riding panther hollow at night. Going under the bridge feels epic. I like to take others and riding alone makes me nervous for sure, but I still love riding there in the dark.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’d love to do PH at night. I’ve done the old trolley line from Babcock to Perrymont using a $2.50 flashlight from Home Despot duct-taped to my helmet. Works pretty well.

On the trolley line at dusk or night, it’s not muggers or rabbits I’m worried about, it’s skunks. A mugger you can reason with. Skunk strategy: Do not encounter them quickly. Stop dead if you see one, do not shine light on it.


Drewbacca
Participant
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… and what ever you do, don’t paint a white stripe on your black bicycle.


mr marvelous
Participant
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I just came up PHT about 30 min ago and some old lady was driving on it and almost hit me. Don’t know how she got on the trail but it was kinda scary. I tried to talk to her but I guess I spooked her because she hit the gas and shot away.


ieverhart
Participant
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I just came up PHT about 30 min ago and some old lady was driving on it and almost hit me. Don’t know how she got on the trail but it was kinda scary. I tried to talk to her but I guess I spooked her because she hit the gas and shot away.

I like having the gates open since you can go through faster without worrying about navigating the post, but jeez, maybe they should stay closed.


Pseudacris
Participant
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That post could use some more reflectors, but I saw cars on the trail the other day.


Lyle
Participant
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Somebody’s figured out it’s a shortcut…


Pseudacris
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I wonder if it will be the new awesome way for cars to deal with the absence of the Greenfield bridge?


mr marvelous
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Maybe I’ll wrap some reflective tape around the post next time I ride the trail.


Pseudacris
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Maybe someone could commission a piece of public art from Dick Elliott?


Impala26
Participant
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Cars in Junction Hollow? Really?

I don’t think the gates are enough. We need better signage at both entrances to clearly state: “Stop. Trail Access for non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians only.”

Speaking of that, random thought, anyone ever see someone tooling around the trails on a segway? Going to CMU, I see some quite frequently, but I never see anyone brave enough to take an EXPEDITION of sorts on the trails with one. Has anyone else?

PS: The lights from the Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge (Blvd. of the Allies) light up the trail at night in the most sublime (some could say chilling) way.


Pseudacris
Participant
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Yes, really. I think it’s still just occasional.


helen s
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I ride through there on my commute twice a day 5 days a week and have for the past 10 years. Never any problems- sometimes I turn off my front light on the trails to save the batteries, but turn them on when I see someone coming towards me.

I have only seen a civilian car go through once- he was behind me on a snowy night, so I welcomed his lights to better judge where to position my wheels with varying depths of snow. I do see police cars every few months.


ejwme
Participant
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When on the roads, I use lights at night unless in those rare places I feel safer not being seen. Off roads, I’ve always felt like I could see better with my light off, relying on ambient light and night vision to avoid the weird tunnel vision Pseudacris described earlier.

But my uncorrected vision is so bad (and has been for so much of my life) that I’m extremely comfortable with only the barest hint of a visual distinction between obstacle, other travelers, trees, and path. I definitely don’t recommend my practice in this case, just relating the story.

Psychologically, I tend to be way more afraid of the things I can’t see when I CAN see other things. So when it’s all a gray blur, I definitely (artificially?) feel more secure than when my tiny well illuminated field of vision is empty but the majority of my field is black from lack of night vision. Again, I don’t really recommend my practice, I admit it doesn’t seem rational to me.


Pierce
Participant
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I’ve seen civilian cars at least twice on the PH trail, another time a pickup and suspicious looking people were parked on the field; I complained about this several months ago.

The problem with the gate is that it forces people through a small spot, which can be annoying with two way traffic or even a little hairy with panniers or a trailer

Removable or retractable bollards would be more ideal, if spread out far enough

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