Is She Crazy?

I’ve always enjoyed reading Angela Valdez over at the Washington CityPaper. On Friday she recounts a walk home from a bar to her house in Petworth. Read the post here.

She wrote “We walked north on Sherman till we got to her place and then I decided to shortcut on Georgia to get myself home. I quickly realized I should have turned back to Sherman.”

This is something I’ve always tried to figure out but I’ve never gotten much feedback: what are the “rules” for walking home in the evening? Is there a cut off for when it wouldn’t be advisable to walk home? Is it ok to walk home late at night if you are not alone? Should Georgia Ave be avoided? I have written about this before and I’ve said everyone has their own comfort levels but surely there are general rules to be followed. I walked home last night at around midnight and I felt perfectly safe but I was not on Georgia Avenue. What walking home guidelines do you follow?

28 Comment

  • My walking home guidelines? I DON’T. I drive and I park close, and not in the back alley either. We’ve lived in PW for several years now and have only had one incident.

  • I live in Columbia Heights on 11th and am normally coming from the Dupont or U street areas.

    I will take 18th, 15th or 13th on most nights. During the day I may take 11th, but I avoid all of the others, especially 14th st between Florida Ave and Harvard.

    Just don’t feel safe on them and I’m a good sized guy.

  • It’s funny (not ha ha funny); like the author, I might have thought Ga. Avenue would be the better option because there are more people on it. I guess not.

    I’ve walked home on New Year’s Eve (well, 3 a.m. New Year’s morning) east from 14th Ave. to Georgia. Well, FIRST I had to walk from the middle of Adams Morgan to 14th, because a #$#$%^ taxi wouldn’t take me home and wouldn’t budge until I got out of his car. Asshole. I hate taxi drivers in this city so very much. But anyway…

    So I walked from A-M east to 14th street, waited 1 million years for a bus with basically my temper and a light coat to keep me warm, took the bus north to my street, then walked east to my home. No one bothered me. Perhaps I looked loaded for bear after the taxi incident. But it wasn’t the safest option, I don’t think, nor one I would repeat.

  • OK, I wouldn’t walk home alone late at night anywhere in this city. Period. Even when I ride the bus or take the metro during the winter, the beau comes and meets me at the bus stop/metro so that I don’t have to walk the few blocks down Ga. Ave in the dark alone. Maybe that writer that it was chutzpah, but I think it was foolhardy for a woman to walk home alone. I’ve had enough friends who were mugged — on Capitol Hill — and one who was almost raped — in Woodley Park — to keep me from doing it.

  • Sigh. I mean THOUGHT IT WAS in the earlier post.

  • I wouldn’t live somewhere where I didn’t feel safe walking around. She should indeed have stayed on Sherman Avenue where Guinness the dog looks after righteous souls.

  • I think in general you should not buy property in an area where you feel unsafe walking home. I can understand possibly renting in an area like this – because you generally have no incentive to live there/rent long term. It seems like many new people who are buying property in Petworth are educated and make decent incomes; yet, continue to purchase property in an area that is to put it bluntly – sketchy – but with nice pockets here and there. You’re paying almost half a million dollars for these houses and don’t feel safe walking home? Doesn’t that sound strange?

  • Certain blocks have more crime, for example, the 3500 blk of Georgia has a decent amount of crime, but what kind of crime? Usually it’s drug arrests, prostitution. The question is, does that make that block unsafe?

    The PoP knows this story, but I know someone walking home around midnight after a night of drinkning, from Cleveland Park to the Cathedral, got jumped by 3 guys, wallet stolen. He was 1/2 a block from Wisconsin Ave. People get mugged all the time on Fri and Sat nights, just a block from the heart of Adams Morgan with thousands of people just around the corner. These areas are probably considered “safe”. Because these people feel “safe”, they leave themselves vulnerable.

    Crime strikes everywhere. Regardless of whether you’re walking on a “safe” street or “unsafe street”, it’s the street and you have to stay alert of your surroundings. Are you talking on your cell phone? Listening to your ipod? What are you doing that makes you look vulnerable? Maybe this is all common sense, that usually gets left behind at the bar after the 5th shot.

  • The crime stats show Adams Morgan to be waaaay more dangerous than PW. Yet everyone thinks we live in the ‘hood. Personally, I’ve not wandered around Georgia late, but I wouldn’t be worried to. The only problem I’ve had so far at night was when I was chased 1/8th of block down Webster by one of those vicious black Washington squirrels (okay, I jumped 1/8th of a block when he darted out of a yard).

    Also, while women definitely endure more catcalls and such on the street, statistically us boys are more likely to be assaulted, robbed, or killed by a stranger on the street. But I’ve noticed that these debates almost always revolve around anecdotes involving young ladies.

    Is it because men are dumb and just don’t know how much danger they are in (this may be a rhetorical question)?

  • Odentex – Why did you have to state it was a “black” squirrel? Why couldn’t it just be a squirrel? Why does race always have to creep its ugly head into every conversation?

    Kidding . . kidding. . . a little Monday humor πŸ™‚

  • Pretty much anytime someone is walking from the PW metro to my house up Georgia, I meet them @ the metro or bus stop and walk them back at night.

    I don’t think there’s a cutoff for when things become “more sketchy” other than the cover of darkness. Most of Georgia is pretty poorly lit, and I think it adds to the feeling that if something happened, no one would see it.

    I’ve lived here 6 months and never had any trouble.That said, I understand why people find parts of Petworth, especially along Georgia, to be too rough to walk alone.

  • Anon: everyone knows that the black squirrels are more prone to crime and violence.

    Oh, also I think the point about “feeling safe” is a big one. You may “feel safe” in AM or walking down Connecticut, but is that a reality? When something happens in these “safe” places, like when that Englishman went and got himself murdered in Georgetown last summer, people act shocked. Crime happens everywhere.

    Before we bought in PW we took a careful look at the crime stats, (and that’s another reason Columbia Heights looked less appealing). PW either has a huge population of people who don’t report robberies and assaults — or the crime rate in PW is simply lower than other “safe” NW neighborhoods. I suggest folks who want to label PW “sketchy” take a look at the figures.

    Now is this because we are smarter than folks in Adams Morgan and *most* of us don’t wander around strip joints in mini skirts and go-go boots at 2AM? Maybe.

    While I understand this newspaper writer, Golden Silence, and others are rightfully pissed at the apparent lack of couth many men have on the streets, I honestly don’t directly connect unwanted attention to crime. I AM NOT CONDONING IT, mind you, but this story from the Washington Rag & Review isn’t about crime per se, it’s about street hassling.

    And ladies, I think I have a solution: nobody ever whistles at me on the street when I wear my “Participant, Fried Catfish Eat-Off ’99 – Cut’n’Shoot, Texas”.

  • what do you all think of Brightwood? It’s also on Georgia…is that more or less “sketchy” than PW or the Heights? I too looked at the crime stats on and it seems like there’s less crime in Brightwood when comparing to both of these neighborhoods, but still feels sketchy…anyone live there? I’m looking to buy there, but just not sure…I know there’s more development in PW, but it’s getting out of my price range and Brightwood seems like a a good option since it’s so close to PW.

  • I have had this very debate in my head dozens of times. It’s after midnight, I’m three blocks from home (Columbia Heights), I’m with a girlfriend who is going in the opposite direction….. Do I: A) pay a DC cab a ridiculous amount to go three blocks (here’s my plug: changing to meters instead of zones will be a HUGE incentive for me to take these very short rides), B) Call my boyfriend (oh, that’s right, I’m single) to meet me on the corner, or C) deal with it and walk home? Nine times out of ten, the option will be C. I have to walk right down 14th Street, past more than one corner that may seem less-than-safe at times. I am not going to be a prisoner in my home, nor am I going to drive to go out to Wonderland, the Heights, or anywhere else that’s within walking distance. I walk with my head high, and so far, thank goodness, I’ve been safe. Nobody bothers me, I can deal with a few cat-calls. In fact, I find smiling and saying “thank you” generally ends the “hey baby…” conversations anyway.
    So, basically, I’m just rambling, but I say it’s all about your own comfort level.

  • I don’t walk alone in D.C. at night in any neighborhood, Petworth or otherwise. One of our friends recently got mugged in Chinatown. Any larger city is going to have crime and that crime is not going to be limited to certain neighborhoods. Notwithstanding the above, Georgia Ave is sketchy at any time of day. I made the mistake of walking alone up Georgia Ave a couple months ago on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The people hanging out on the street made the walk very uncomfortable.

  • I agree with Bonnie. I do not walk alone in DC at night — in any neighborhood. But, I should note that I am generally lazy and not a big drinker. So, I am usually happy to be the designated driver!

  • I am under the impression that people are less likely to get mugged on more populated streets (the “don’t walk down a dark alley” theory)

    If that’s the case – shouldn’t we stop hiding? Walk the block our families after dinner? Would that make our neighborhood safer?

  • I’ve lived in the neighborhood for five years. I’ve walked all over at all hours in all states of sobriety and mental clarity. I can’t recall a single time I felt threatened. Granted I’m a relatively large guy, but I think it is the fact that I know all of my neighbors – including the kids on my block and their friends from around the neighborhood. Plus, I say hi to people when I walk.

    Once you start doing that you get the neighborhood gossip and begin to realize that most violent crime is troublemaker on troublemaker. When you look at property crime rates DC comes out in the middle of the pack.

    Basically if you avoid go-gos, buying/selling drugs, etc you can pretty much avoid crime in DC.

    In short, I agree with Trash. If you don’t feel safe walking in your neighborhood, please move to Arlington.

  • Spoken like a true guy. πŸ™‚

    I feel where you’re coming from, soulless bureaucrat — I’m all for supporting our neighborhood. But some people just don’t feel safe out walking late at night and that doesn’t make them suburban weenies.

    I walk home from the Metro all the time. It’s just a couple of blocks for me. But I regularly get “greeted” on that walk by one or two guys and I am always aware of how much I cannot take on the weakest man in a fight, unless I got lucky.

    So I’m not going to criticize someone who feels threatened in some situations that may not bother me. And I think it’s a little glib to say that you wouldn’t live in a place where you didn’t feel safe walking around. Some parts of Petworth feel safer than others; it’s a big neighborhood.

    As one anonymous poster said, it’s all about one’s own comfort level.

    As for not hiding — National Night Out is Aug. 7, project kb. See you on Georgia Avenue outside The House? πŸ™‚

  • “please move to Arlington”

    Wow. There’s no crime in Arlington? News to me. Tell it to the woman who was raped with a stick on Four Mile Run. Sorry for the harsh image, but seriously, SB, your statement was just ignorant and condescending. As if women get raped because they aren’t sufficiently friendly with their neighbors? As if no one ever goes to a neighborhood where they don’t live and nobody knows them to commit a robbery? Please. Refusing to walk alone after dark in the city does not make a woman some kind of out-of-her-league country mouse who should scurry back to the farm.

    There is a reason that every single personal defense class for women starts and ends with the common-sense principle that women should avoid putting themselves in the situations where crimes occur. That does not mean that every time a woman walks alone at night she is going to get assaulted or robbed. It does mean that in a large percentage of the cases where that does happen, the woman was walking alone. Taking that set of chances out of the realm of possibility by simply not walking alone at night is not some signal of weakness or – god forbid – uncoolness, but just good personal safety policy.

  • Ah, but if you have Jesus then you never walk alone πŸ˜‰

  • :::applauds st said:::

  • odentx, I like your style…

    Christina… True it was spoken like a guy. As I am one, it should come as no surprise. I understand that safety for a man and woman are two totally different things. My only point is there are a number of people on this site that bemoan the crime and safety of the neighborhood. If you don’t feel safe, by all means move. It’s not meant to be flip. Why would anyone spend so much time and money in a place they are clearly uncomfortable?

    st, regarding your anecdote about rape in Arlington, it happened in south Arlington – the Petworth of Arlington. There was also a rapist stalking the Custis trail (the Cleveland Park of Arlington) a few years back. My point is that sexual assaults are not income driven. Go to the website below and look at rape rates:

    The point is DC has fewer rapes per capita than Delaware, Kansas, and Minnesota to name a few. It’s even lower than South Dakota for God’s sake.

  • “sexual assaults are not income driven?” THAT was your point? Huh. I thought your point was that any woman who lives in the city but takes precautions to protect herself is just a chickens**t who can’t hack the city and should “move to Arlington.” Just not to South Arlington, which is “the Petworth of Arlington.”

    Oh. Okay. Thanks for clearing that up. My mistake.

  • Oh heavens, soulless bureaucrat. (I hate to call you that. It sounds like an insult.) I hope you’re not trying to say that I should feel safer walking home late at night through sketchy areas because I’m not LIKELY to be raped. Statistics are cold comfort. I just don’t think guys understand what it is like to know that half of the people walking past you on the street could overpower you if they wanted to. I think if you really did fully understand how different our safety considerations are, you would not suggest that a statistical analysis should make me feel just fine skipping down the street at 1 in the morning all by myself.

    (Also, who suggested that assaults are income driven? I think ST’s point was that saying “move to Arlington” isn’t some automatic guarantee of safety.)

    Anyway, in this particular thread, the “scaredy-cats” have said that don’t do certain activities like walking around late at night ANYWHERE IN THE CITY. That’s hardly a slam on Petworth specifically. Many people have specifically added that so called “good” neighborhoods have been sites of attacks.

    And as for the “why don’t you move if you don’t feel safe” thing — just because I would prefer not to walk home, alone, at 3 in the morning, in club clothes, doesn’t mean I am fearful at all times in this ‘hood. Since I don’t *have* to walk home long distances late at night, I don’t. Problem solved. And I didn’t even have to move. πŸ™‚

  • And st, I like YOUR style. πŸ™‚

  • “While I understand this newspaper writer, Golden Silence, and others are rightfully pissed at the apparent lack of couth many men have on the streets, I honestly don’t directly connect unwanted attention to crime. I AM NOT CONDONING IT, mind you, but this story from the Washington Rag & Review isn’t about crime per se, it’s about street hassling.”

    Yeah…but when the men don’t have any respect for women’s space, safety, free will, and start to stalk, threaten and cause problems, then it indeed becomes a crime.

  • Crime happens everywhere. When I lived in Old Town Alexandria my roommate’s friend was robbed at gunpoint nearby. When I lived in North Arlington the “plastic bag attacker” struck a block from my apartment. Now I live in Southwest DC, considered a lot sketchier than Old Town or Clarendon, but I like it better. I can park right in front of my house or get a cheap cab ride from downtown, so I don’t have to be walking around late at night. I think the likelihood of being a crime victim has more to do with whether you’re taking precautions than where you live.

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