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Assaulted While Riding My Bike on Guilford Ave.

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.

  • Chris Merriam

    This is an epidemic right now. I hope you called 911. Glad to hear you’re OK.

  • Adam H

    At what time did this happen, in relation to the other attacks tonight?

  • Adam H

    “The teens who attacked me, however, wanted to inflict some pain. Trying to get the bike was just a bonus.”

    There is definitely a sporting mentality when kids do this, which is why I suspect (from what I hear) the victims are almost always male.

  • Mark

    Around 6:30pm

  • Adam H

    I think another cyclist was attacked after the police chased them for your incident. *WOW* Brazen.

  • Mark

    And they probably messed with a few cyclists before my incident. I saw them waiting on the corner of Lanvale/Guilford from a few blocks away.

  • Adam H

    Have you read the bikemore Facebook thread? With yours, there were at least 3 guilford street station north attacks within 3 hours.

  • Adam H

    Another comment, waiting for moderation, because it has a link in it. :)

  • Reebs

    Awesome. I am a female who rides that route alone and never really thinks about it…. and now I am going to feel like I am playing Frogger every time I go down that road!

  • Evan

    Glad you’re OK. I rode up that corridor for several years before they put in the lane on Guilford, and having been attacked by kids in this town on a few other occasions, I’ve always been leery of it. It’s too slow and too isolated. I’ve always taken Calvert. More traffic means more eyes and by your (and my) theory, less chance for attack. Cars are dangerous too, but they are generally trying NOT to injure you.

    In my opinion, the ideal solution is to move all the parking on Calvert to the left side, angle in, and give the bikers a separated lane on the right. A guy can dream.

  • Mark

    awesome idea. as of now, i won’t take calvert. too narrow, too fast. charles street was an alternative before the construction.

  • jchapline

    Thank you for posting. I’m glad you’re not hurt too badly. Also glad to hear that residents stepped in to help; that’s encouraging. I hope this rash of incidents has the attention of the police.

  • Billy

    I have always rode up Calvert (and still do) but don’t assume that you will be any safer simply because of traffic. There are still many dark areas that they will lurk in at night time waiting for an opportunity to ride by. The sketchiest area has always been between Mt Royal and 25th street. The park that is in that area is definetly a gathering area due to low lighting. If the city would put some extra lighting in and around that park, it would probably help to make it less desirable as a gathering/ hangout point. Several years ago, I was attacked by 3 teens who were laying in wait in the park. I got away with my bike and gear, but also picked up a nasty gash above my eye that required stitches. Making lots of noise and using my bike as a self defense weapon saved me. I am glad to hear you made it out ok and posted about it to bring more attention to this issue.

  • Baltimore Skyline

    Maybe the police officers on bikes should be patroling Calvert?

  • Baltimore Skyline

    I meant Guilford, but Calvert just as much.

  • Adam H

    Someone else mentioned this on the facebook thread on the issue, and I was initially in agreement; but in retrospect I’m not certain that a bicycle patrol would have any advantages over police cruiser patrol of the same area. I mean, I’m all for police riding bikes in plain clothes there to catch the kids in a sting – but police cars can respond much much faster.

  • TBH

    More foot and bike patrols are needed throughout the city, not just Guilford.

  • Baltimore Skyline

    I guess my point is that they can be a lot more visible if they are riding or walking a beat in the area. Maybe the BCPD should consider bringing that police box a Charles and Lanvale back into commission.

  • galen_52657

    That’s horrible. Glad you got out relatively unscathed. Same thing happend to a buddy of mine several years ago. I prefer St. Pauls and Charles for north-south. It’s faster because there are less stop signs and the lights are timed and its more populated.

  • Evan

    I posted this on Nate’s blog as well: we could put together an email group for area cyclists as a way to alert each other when something like this is happening. Thoughts?

  • Mark

    Already alerted many Baltimore cyclists on my email list, but yes, a more formal announcement system is a needed.

  • David Robinette

    Police officers carry a small device called an ASP. It is an expandable metal baton. It fits in a pocket. With a flip of the wrist it suddenly expands out to 16″ or 20″ or 24″ – all depending on which size you buy.

    Legally, an ASP is classified as a defensive weapon. Cops are trained in its use. It has replaced to old “billy club” or nightstick. THe baisc training is: don’t hit anyone on the head.

    However: if you strike someone on the shoulder, the pain usually makes him go away. If you strike someone on the side of the knee, he falls to the ground and cannot move until the pain stops.

    It is legal for you to own and carry an ASP. They cost between $25 and $75 at any gun store or police supply shop. You are allowed to defend yourself from criminal assault, battery, attempted armed robbery, etc.