Is anyone familiar with this trail? I'm referring specifically to the 1 1/2 mile stretch running north from Union Station. Seems like a nice trail, but definitely a bit secluded... I'd like to use it for early AM runs. Does anyone have any experience with it in the early morning hours? thanks
I used to bike - and occasionally run - the MBT to and from Silver Spring to Union station to get to/from work.
I never had any real problems but I would be cautious about running there in the dark - I did that once or twice and I felt pretty exposed. The bike felt safer as I imagined (perhaps mistakenly) that I'd be better able to zip out of trouble if it came down to it.
I did once have a group of highschool kids refuse to yield on the path. Turned out ok - just sort of slowly ploughed my way through them - but its tough to know if they were just being jerks or were actually trying to start something.
oh uh, just googled this: http://www.princeofpetworth.com/2011/06/more-trouble-on-the-metropolitan-branch-trail/
looks like people have had some serious trouble out there. Be safe!
I agree with Andre's post! I love using it for speed workouts and for bike commuting- but I stick to daylight hours. We need to get more people out there running and biking on it though- that can only make it safer, and it's a great trail.
Beyond the Taser incident, I remember a shooting during a robbery earlier this year (UPDATED: found press release below from MPD).
What's great about this trail (isolation from neighborhoods) also makes it dangerous:
On Wednesday, January 25, 2012, at approximately 6:15 pm, an area resident was walking on the Metropolitan Branch Bike Trail in the area of 3rd & R Street, Northeast, when he was accosted by three individuals. One subject produced a weapon and demanded the victim’s possessions. After complying and without provocation, the victim was punched in the face. The victim then attempted to flee from the scene and sustained a graze gunshot wound to the hip area after the suspect fired his weapon.
All three suspects then fled on foot. The victim received treatment for his injuries and an area hospital. The Metropolitan Police Department continues its investigation into the identity of these three individuals.
Here is an idea, and maybe this is better suited for neighborhoods to tackle on an individual basis, but can the DC Tri Club play a role in trail safety advocacy on a broader level? Can/should the club help facilitate the process to develop the mechanisms to safeguard these trails? We see Neighborhood Watch Programs throughout the city but we don't' see a Trail Watch Program of any sort (maybe they exist but I'm unaware).
We have the leverage with our numbers and our reach...this might be a powerful way to extend our club's mission to have a broader impact in our community.
President, DC Tri Club
Wow, all that crime is really shocking - a real shame. I've always considered the MBT to be a little gem but I have to say I'd think twice about using it after all these crime reports.
Ryan, that's an interesting idea. I've read through a few comments on various forums and it looks like the police presence around the trail is mixed - some limited patrols but otherwise it sounds like they're recommending people stay away from the trail.
Seems like getting the club involved would be a big undertaking - but like you say, we've got a lot of motivated people.
If the Club could come up with a practical - and safe - way to help out, I'd be all for it.
Yikes, that's some scary sh*t. Thanks for the feedback. FYI, I ran Saturday morning and felt perfectly comfortable - but there was a decent amount of foot-/bike traffic. Early AM/PM does not sound great though... I guess buddy-ing up is a way to make it safer in the short-term...
Its not a bad place for speed work. It probably just depends on how early you are hitting the trail. There do seem to be a lot of commuters on it when I have used it...its been a few months though.
I use the MBT all the time, and the best advice I can give you is this: If something doesn't feel right, turn around and call 911. Don't risk being a victim.
The MBT is a focus area for the MPD, and they patrol it regularly. However, I'm extra cautious when I'm riding back in the dark. During morning and evening rush hour, there are plenty of people on the trail. But just like anywhere in DC, if you are by yourself very early or late, take extra precaution.
New crime on the MBT. Not good.
Ok, this is enough motivation...the club needs to get involved in advocating for trail safety. We are 1300 strong with a network that reaches well beyond that. We would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn't leverage our voice and our influence.
This may not make the agenda for the December board meeting but I will pencil it in for the January meeting.
Thanks for the ongoing intel on this issue, let's do our part and make this right. Onward...
President, DC Tri Club
Sounds like a great idea. Keep us posted and let us know how we can help.
Sounds like a great idea. fwiw, I've been using the trail on weekends, mid-mornings only. There's a decent amount of runners/cyclists/dog walkers at the time.
Some info from a couple of years ago on groups involved in Metro Br Trail stewardship/improvements:
I don't know at what point a person has to face facts and give up, but I think that point may have come with the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
The beating and robbery on Thursday of a male teacher, as well as the attack in June of a male biker in broad daylight during rush hour has lead me, at least, to conclude that the wonderful potential of this trail can not be realized and that it is just too unsafe to use. This trail has a long and constant history of attacks.
What is most troubling is that the overwhelming majority of the incidents over the years on the MBT do not just involve a robbery, but usually a severe beating. The June incident was described as "a savage beating" in the press. The attacks are usually by groups and the "gang mentality" takes over where the point seems to lie in the violence more than the theft.
For those of you that use MBT, godspeed. Travelling the MBT is daring endeavor.
Yeah, I read about that incident too. The two things that I do that make me comfortable on the MTB are:
1) run in the morning when there's plenty of folks running/walking their dogs/commuting
2) Run north between M Street (by the Harris Teeter) and the sharp left hand turn before the major railroad/construction lots on the right. That's exactly .5 miles -- perfect for intervals.
I don't go farther north than that when I'm alone.
Thanks for the update. I was looking forward to riding the trail to get to work now that it's cooler out. But that won't be happening now. :(
Food for thought:
1.) The less people that are on the trail, the more risky things become. If anything, we need as many people as possible to ride the trail.
2.) I don't have any hard stats to point to, but it seems to me that the safety of running/biking on-trail vs off-trail is something to consider. Just by numbers, I'd say that we're probably more susceptible to robbery, taunting, & assault off-trail than on the MBT. A significantly higher amount of this crime happens on the streets, side walks, etc. Considering the bigger picture, is it really THAT much more dangerous? Enough so to avoid altogether? I am not downplaying the beatings & other heinous acts that have happened on the MBT, I just think a lot more of these terrible things happen off the trail than on.
3.) Never turn off your street-smarts-radar.
4.) We shouldn't let fear dictate usage of our city. Obviously there are extreme exceptions, but i do not believe the use of a public trail to be one of them.
5.) Fyi, I only use the portion of the trail that runs from R st to Union station. I have never had a reason to go further north.
See you out there!
I live just a few blocks off the MBT in NoMa and have recently started using it more to get to the R st bike lanes. I've only be on the trail during the day time and there are quite a few others using it too. My neighbor bike commutes from NoMa to R st on the trail everyday.
I agree that the more people that use the trail, the safer it'll be. I like the idea at Ryan mentioned last year of helping to facilitate the process to develop the mechanisms to safeguard these trails. Maybe reaching out to ANC or the police and see how the members who live near and/or use the trail can help.
I used to ride to work on the trail from way up north (Fort Totten) to Union. I'm comfortable with a fair amount of danger/risk having grown up in the projects and going to school in the Bronx, but I don't unneccessarily look for danger. I know my heart rate goes way up when I see school kids in a pack who walk up and down the trail when I ride. Street smarts aren't really useful since I can't take a detour on the trail to avoid them as I would on city streets. It's just safer and more relaxing (and free for me) to take the Metro/bus to and from work, and I enjoy spending that time reading the paper and listening to my jam.
Obviously, if I had to choose between saving $100/month by biking and not taking the Metro/bus, I might just bike and take my chances on the trail. Folks from my neighborhood have asked for more patrol and surveillance cameras to the mayor, to the police dept. chief, and to our Council member. Nothing really has been done and the gang of 12 perps from the June beating haven't been caught and probably won't ever be caught. That's the state of things unfortunately.
I'm staying off the trail, but to each his/her own.