Earlier today I was attacked by a group of teens at the intersection of Guilford and Lanvale. They unsuccessfully tried to steal my $100 bike. They did manage to land a few punches and throw me down as I was trying to escape, but some residents of the 1700 block of Guilford stepped in during the scene and helped chase them off before things got bad. Aside from a few scrapes and black eye, I’m fine. The police tried to chase the teens down in Greenmount West, but they escaped through an alley.
Having read about cycling attacks like these in Baltimore but never having been a victim of one, I thought I knew how I’d handle it. I thought I’d just outrun the attackers. Wrong. Unless you’re going down hill or already have some major speed, they will block your escape routes and grab any part of your bike or clothing to try to bring you down. I also thought that once they got the bike, they’d just grab it and run. The teens who attacked me, however, wanted to inflict some pain. Trying to get the bike was just a bonus. If there’s no escape route, like in my case, I will say making a commotion, looking pissed off (and not scared), and shouting gets people’s attention and discourages the attackers. Doing these things probably helped in my case. Criminals and those willing to inflict harm on others are often cowards who operate in dark, unseen places. The more attention you’re able to bring to the situation, the more likely the assailants will run.
If you’re cycling on Guilford, which is probably the best north/south route in the city, this post isn’t meant to freak you out, but to make you aware. Cycling 2 or more is best, but alone at night is still iffy. With new rehabs being completed, fewer vacant rowhomes and more “eyes on the street” in Greenmount West and Station North, I hope cycling assaults become less common in this area, and hopefully my story becomes an isolated incident in the future.
***Update: Thanks to Baltimore Velo, Baltimore Brew, BmoreBikes, and BikeMore for getting the word out. This wasn’t an isolated incident, and there are reports of similar cycling assaults on Charles Street between North Ave. and 25th St.