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Riding through the "ghetto"

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Riding through the "ghetto"

Old 10-16-10, 01:52 AM
  #1  
Vegas Trekker
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Riding through the "ghetto"

On my 13 mile commute to and from school, I pass by a real rough part of town, where a lot of crime and gang activity take place. Now that it's getting dark out earlier, my ride home is in the dark and I'm starting to get a little worried. Maybe i sound like a total wuss, but it does get a little scary when riding by huge groups of people hanging out with rap music bumping like its the club. Anyone one else have this experience? Do you take any precautions, if any?

Thanks
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Old 10-16-10, 04:39 AM
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I'd go a different route if you are worried. TBH a few miles extra is probably worth not getting jacked.
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Old 10-16-10, 04:42 AM
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Don't stop, no matter what they yell at you. Other then that I'd look for a route that makes you feel a little more comfortable (even if you have to zig zag across the neighborhood), if possible vary your route to avoid a routine, carry a cell phone, and get a good set of lights.
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Old 10-16-10, 05:24 AM
  #4  
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I ride through a rough part of town every day going to/from work, and I just nod my head, give them a little two-finger wave (acknowledge they're there) and keep on riding. You want to avoid riding too close to large groups of people... even if they're nice, it's not safe... but other than that, just keep moving and be polite. Most of the time, they're just hanging out, not looking for trouble.
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Old 10-16-10, 07:08 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by FunkyStickman View Post
I ride through a rough part of town every day going to/from work, and I just nod my head, give them a little two-finger wave (acknowledge they're there) and keep on riding. You want to avoid riding too close to large groups of people... even if they're nice, it's not safe... but other than that, just keep moving and be polite. Most of the time, they're just hanging out, not looking for trouble.
I guess it depends on the person you're passing, but I find the complete opposite whenever I pass annoying teenagers. If you acknowledge them for some reason that gives them license to show off and say something dumb that they think is clever. If I ignore them and don't look at them a lot of times they won't venture out. Maybe acknowledging them makes them think I'm nice so I won't do anything to their jaunts but if I ignore them they don't know if I'm really a rageaholic under it all?
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Old 10-16-10, 07:20 AM
  #6  
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My whole commute, with the exception of the first 10 miles, is through a bad neighborhood at 4am.
Whatever you do, wave or not, do it with confidence, not bravado.
Punks smell fear. Show it and they will mess with you.
Depending on the laws where you live, you might want to consider carrying some type of protection, just in case.
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Old 10-16-10, 07:24 AM
  #7  
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Do tricks as you go by to entertain them: wheelies, endos, bunnyhops etc.

Samaurai swords strapped to your back...?
Mini-gatling gun mounted to a trail-a-bike...?

If it were heavy metal music instead would you feel better?

Yes, be confident, and wise in where you position your bike as you pass. Not too close and watch for approaching people, you do not want to stop. Take a different route if you feel threatened.

In all honesty you are probably just part of the urban landscape to them. Something to look at, much like various passing cars. Besides, you know where to find them if you have to return with the cops. Get a helmet cam.

Last edited by thenomad; 10-16-10 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 10-16-10, 09:27 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by stdlrf11 View Post
Whatever you do, wave or not, do it with confidence, not bravado.
Punks smell fear. Show it and they will mess with you.
Depending on the laws where you live, you might want to consider carrying some type of protection, just in case.
Yes.

Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
Do tricks as you go by to entertain them: wheelies, endos, bunnyhops etc.

Samaurai swords strapped to your back...?
Mini-gatling gun mounted to a trail-a-bike...?

If it were heavy metal music instead would you feel better?

Yes, be confident, and wise in where you position your bike as you pass. Not too close and watch for approaching people, you do not want to stop. Take a different route if you feel threatened.

In all honesty you are probably just part of the urban landscape to them. Something to look at, much like various passing cars. Besides, you know where to find them if you have to return with the cops. Get a helmet cam.
+1000

Rough parts of town are relative. I ride my bike in parts of LA and Long Beach that most people would not think about driving through without problems. I mind my own business and ignore the crap (usually compliments and "You go girl" kind of stuff) that people tend to holler at me. I also think if I am in these areas riding, it may make others consider doing so themselves.
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Old 10-16-10, 10:00 AM
  #9  
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I ride through rough parts of town and I live in a relatively rough neighborhood. When you live there and you know the people, you learn that most of it is just posing and looks. 99% of the people won't go out of their way to mess with you. A lot of them are opportunists and will take advantage of you if you allow them to. Don't leave your bike unlocked if you have to stop at a convenience store, or do anything else that would leave you vulnerable.

Then there are the 1%. Theses are the ones often doped out of their minds. They are still looking for an "easy" target. They want to get the drop on their victim and usually just rob you but sometimes worse. You want to be aware of your surroundings. Make sure as you ride that you make a conscious effort to look around and see every person. If anyone looks at you, you look then right back in the eyes and wave so they know that you saw them and if they do anything to you, you can ID them. If you have to stop for any reason such as at a stop light or sign, look around. Know what is around you.

Also, I recommend that you carry a can of pepper spray on you. I have a small can on a key chain that I keep my house key on just for when I go riding. Pepper spray comes in handy if a dog comes after you too, which happens a lot in bad neighborhoods. If you want a little extra protection, then carry a spring assist knife on you too. When I ride my expensive bike, I also carry a 4" spring assist stiletto. I hope I never have to use it, but it makes me feel better knowing I have it.
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Old 10-16-10, 10:11 AM
  #10  
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Kel-Tec P3AT.

'nuff said.
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Old 10-16-10, 10:38 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by carlspeed View Post
Kel-Tec P3AT.

'nuff said.
+1
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Old 10-16-10, 10:45 AM
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When you are passing through parts just ride through.
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Old 10-16-10, 01:00 PM
  #13  
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I work right in the middle of the 'hood. We regularly get death threats at work. (Who in their right mind makes death threats to librarians? Sheesh.) There's no other way to get there, except maybe by helicopter.

As a cyclist, the suburbs frighten the hell out of me. The 'hood? Not so much. At least in the 'hood, folks are used to bikes and know how to drive respectful around them. No one there wants to tangle with the cops. It's the suburbs where nobody gives a damn about cyclists.

I've had no problems riding through the neighborhood. I don't change a thing. I ride through in full hi-viz, lycra-clad regalia, lights on as required, panniers loaded--the works.

The most I've ever gotten out of anyone was "Nice bike! How much did it cost?"

In that neck of the woods, every bike I own, even my titanium Litespeed cost, "A hundred bucks. I got it used on Craigslist. You should check it out."

Other than occasionally complimenting other riders on their bikes, (and there are some really nice cruisers) I mind my business, and folks mind theirs.

As far as loud music is concerned, there's one corner I really like where this old guy sits out front playing jazz guitar. I give him his props, every day.
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Old 10-16-10, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by carlspeed View Post
Kel-Tec P3AT.

'nuff said.
...seems a good way to get into a shoot-out with people that very well could be armed as well...and have less to lose than you do.

my advice: find a different route or ride faster.
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Old 10-16-10, 01:43 PM
  #15  
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I've never had any trouble with anyone on a bike, even riding through Brookland in D.C. Some kids did try to rob me once when I was delivering pizzas (and thus marked as carrying at least a little bit of money). Afterwards, one of the older drivers gave me some tips. These are the main points: If you see a situation which makes you even a little uncomfortable, turn around and go another way. (Run the stop light if you have to.) Stay away from unlit areas where people could bother you without being seen. And above all, be very alert.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend carrying weapons, since you're likely to be outgunned and outnumbered. Much, much better to avoid the situation in the first place.
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Old 10-16-10, 01:44 PM
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I'm more wary of middle upper class neighborhoods.

You probably have a greater chance of being hit by a car than being jumped. When I'm riding, I get treated nicer in lower end neighborhoods. There're less soccer moms rushing to drop off kids in their SUVs and less self important a-holes in BMWs.

I was thinking of this about an hour ago when I was walking across a shopping center parking lot. Three people were in too much of a hurry to let the pedestrian (me) cross the aisle. This was in a city that had a median income of $99,958 in 2008.

I ride through the barrios and have never been bothered.
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Old 10-16-10, 02:16 PM
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I've been commuting through the "Badlands" of North Philadelphia (where I work) for the past 2 years. I've never had a problem with anyone. I don't stop at stop signs/stop lights unless I absolutely have to, especially those with lots of drug sales going on. I also always carry my bike lock and tokens for the bus, because if I get a flat there is no way I'm hanging around to fix it. Other than that, I don't take any precautions. I just act like I know where I am and what I'm doing, and in general nobody bothers me.
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Old 10-16-10, 03:08 PM
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About 5 years ago, after buying a very expensive bike, I for some reason started riding through the south Bronx. It was kind of funny that I picked one of the most fearsome neighborhoods in the country to explore. And you know what? I never gave it another thought after the first time. I'm a native NY'er and know what to watch for and never felt threatened in any way. I've since started doing the same through Brooklyn, although Brooklyn has been gentrified in many areas. There are still some places you wouldn't want to walk through at night. That's another point, I'm talking about weekend days, not nights, nor after school weekdays.

I have also since done the annual Tour de Bronx a few times. That opens up entire sections of the Bronx that I didn't even know existed, although other than some waterfront areas there wasn't much of interest.
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Old 10-16-10, 03:09 PM
  #19  
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When I was going through parts of town that looked suspicious I just try to blend in. That means no helmet, no lights, and no high viz gear.

The only time I got hassled was when a car of locals started blasting their horn and swerving from left to right. I responded by saying "get out the car an do something". They did stop and 3 guys got out. I dropped my bike and was ready to go if I had to. In retrospect I shouldn't have said anything, but I have since learned my lesson (I wasn't expecting 3).

However, I am sure they didn't expect a 5'9 240 pound guy (built like a weightlifter) to confront them either (I guess they were expecting lance). The smallest guy was instigating (5'6 about 130), the middle one was apologizing (5'9, 160) and the tallest guy (6' 200) was playing peacemaker. Nothing happened, but again I should have just let it go in the first place.
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Old 10-16-10, 04:36 PM
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I remember last year a BF member started a thread here about how he got knocked off his bike and roughed up while some others from the group of assailants made off with his ride. If memory serves, he got his bike back from a guy who bought it from the thief, and he even got his medical expenses covered by generous donations from sympathetic BF members. Even though his story had a somewhat happy ending, I'm sure there are both physical and emotional scars left from the incident.

His story left me somewhat shaken and even though crime levels here in my conservative Canadian hometown pale in comparison to what he faced, I took his experience to heart: I make sure to vary my route, keep a vigilant eye out for questionable groups/individuals, and always try to give myself an escape route. I believe that violence begets violence so, while I am willing to defend myself and my property, I leave the pepper spray and the Glock at home. I also keep in mind that no bike is worth my life and they can have it (and my wallet, phone, etc.) if it comes to that.

Last edited by irclean; 10-16-10 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 10-16-10, 05:01 PM
  #21  
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sounds like the perfect opportunity to do some "Reality" youtube vids.
(god only knows what that would do...)

(if nothing else, if something happens, maybe you'd have it documented. then again... maybe it would simply agitate things...)

(helmet light, and small helmet cam)
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Old 10-16-10, 05:15 PM
  #22  
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You can probably ride faster than they can run. And with all that riding, your legs are probably quite strong that if you have to kick someone, he'll know he's been kicked. (The human knee is very vulnerable, and nobody is going to chase you very far or very fast with a broken knee.)
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Old 10-16-10, 09:05 PM
  #23  
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I live in Central Brooklyn and if I'm heading South or East, i have to pass through some rather unsavory parts-- never had a problem. +1 about bravado-ing teens though-- at 3:15pm when every school in the city gets out, you'll have your fair share of knuckleheads who try to jump in front of cyclists to scare them, or pretend to trip you-- seems to happen all the time. pay it no mind and move on.

Otherwise, Brownsville, East Flatbush, etc-- zero problems.
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Old 10-16-10, 09:51 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by irclean View Post
I remember last year a BF member started a thread here about how he got knocked off his bike and roughed up while some others from the group of assailants made off with his ride. If memory serves, he got his bike back from a guy who bought it from the thief, and he even got his medical expenses covered by generous donations from sympathetic BF members. Even though his story had a somewhat happy ending, I'm sure there are both physical and emotional scars left from the incident.

His story left me somewhat shaken and even though crime levels here in my conservative Canadian hometown pale in comparison to what he faced, I took his experience to heart: I make sure to vary my route, keep a vigilant eye out for questionable groups/individuals, and always try to give myself an escape route. I believe that violence begets violence so, while I am willing to defend myself and my property, I leave the pepper spray and the Glock at home. I also keep in mind that no bike is worth my life and they can have it (and my wallet, phone, etc.) if it comes to that.
Yes. That was here in Columbus. The guy was jumped by a group, in exactly the type of situation the OP mentioned.

There was also a story today of a cyclist who was shot. I don't know if he was commuting, or if he knew the people, or what. It wasn't exactly where the other person was, but neither are places I would ride, and they aren't really far apart.

If I had to ride there, I'd take the pepper spray and the glock.
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Old 10-16-10, 10:00 PM
  #25  
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Follow your gut, avoid the area.

What do you have to prove to a bunch of gang members? This isn't a hollywood rap video.

I'd really think twice about getting/pulling a pistol in front of a gang - really? You might hit one of them, but they'll make sure you're dead if you shoot.
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