Biking to death?


The Strib's Troy Melhus recounts a nearly fatal encounter on the LRT trail. It's pretty frightening stuff for any cyclist to read. Combined with the recent attacks on the Greenway and, well, it isn't the sort of the thing that makes a person want to ride.

The tale told by Melhus: In the normally bland pages of the Strib, he writes an honest and engaging piece powered by short sentences:

He jabs the gun into my neck and pushes up my helmet. He slides the muzzle up behind my right ear. I feel him lean in close. This is the end of my life. I'm about to be shot in the back of the head.

I stare at the ground and wait for him to pull the trigger.

By the end of the story, Melhus, understandably,  doesn't feel great about riding. His family is worried about him and he admits to not riding his bike on a city trail since the robbery. Can't blame the dude. It's also here, toward the end, that he fires off a missive directed to the police:

Mostly, though, I'm angry because of the silence. It took nearly 10 violent assaults -- that we know of -- before police warned the public.

That notice Melhus mentions offers strategies to stay safe eg. avoid the Greenway after day, ride and walk with others, and give the attackers what they want if robbed. (In Melhus' case, a whole lot of nothing).

While the notice is important, it seems distant to bike commuters. Sure, it'd be nice to come home at 4 in the afternoon to avoid darkness. But that's not going to happen. And "bike-pooling" home is tough. Commenters wrote about carrying a gun. U-lock in the back pocket, maybe, riding with handgun... c'mon folks we aren't in some sort of futuristic Kurt Russell dystopia. Yet...

But of the advice given, one was important. Know your surroundings. The notice asks riders to familiarize themselves with the addresses of cross-streets over the trail during daylight hours. It's their hope that with such knowledge police response time will increase.

And when you combine the attacks with the ass-cold weather. It just doesn't make the start of the winter bike season fun. It makes it dangerous. Let's just hope it doesn't turn deadly.