Cyclist Attacked on D.C. Trail For No Real Reason

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I read about occasional instances where runners and cyclists along the Capital Crescent and Met Branch trails get attacked and robbed from, but this… this is just too much.

Earlier this week, on his way home from work on the Met Branch Trail, a 37-year-old bicyclist reported being attacked by about 15 youths, according to the Washington Post.

In an eerie and twisted way, the attackers didn’t steal the man’s bike, or his wallet, or any of his other possessions. They just beat the crap out of him for the sake of beating the crap out of him.

And the lack of apparent motive is haunting the married father of two, who uses the trail regularly to bike between his office in the NoMa section of the District and his house in Silver Spring.

The randomness of the attack near Third and S streets NE — and near the location of a surge of violent robberies two years ago — has made him more scared and more angry and left him wondering whether it’s time to give up pedal power in his commute.

“I would be fine if they took my things, that I understand,” said the man, recovering at home from broken bones above his left eye and bruises too numerous to count. “But violence for violence’s sake is troubling.”

D.C. police said the attack by as many as 15 youths occurred about 5:30 p.m. in the Eckington neighborhood. As the cyclist passed a group standing to the side of the trail, one broke away and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground, police said.

I’ve read about runners and cyclists being attacked for their phones and bikes and stuff along the Capital Crescent (and that one incident where a runner was stabbed in the neck…), but this for whatever reason seems to have a different emotional effect.

Metropolitan Branch Trail-8
A section of the Met Branch Trail
Trail Voice | Flickr
Maybe it’s because of the number of kids who beat this man up; or the sad reality that hey, it’s the Met Branch Trail, and it’s bound to happen at some point.

Police told the Post that this is an isolated incident, but in general, we’re told that the trail is safe and we just have to be more vigilant about when we’re using them, and be hyper-aware at all times.

Local residents interviewed by the paper also confirmed the neighborhood’s relative safety and high police presence.

Fine. But it only takes a single incident like this to really put a damper on a cyclist’s motivation to use the trail. It’s sad to read that this cyclist may opt out of commuting between NoMa and Silver Spring by bike because he was attacked—and really, I don’t blame him. But I hope he doesn’t give it up completely.

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