I’m Still Riding The Metro

Not my favorite subject but I still think it is important to talk about. I noticed on the Petworth Listserv today that someone had written that a friend of theirs was attacked outside the Petworth metro at 10pm last October. The writer says that the friend was severely beaten and as a result the writer doesn’t use the Petworth Metro anymore. I certainly don’t mean to dismiss the severity of the attack that took place last October but I find the poster’s conclusion terribly sad. I’ve always advocated that people come up with there own comfort level as far as safety goes. For some that is not taking the metro after dark for others it is not taking metro after midnight and apparently for others it is not taking metro at all. So I will contradict myself. I believe not taking the Petworth metro at all is excessive. I think of it like someone saying they will never ride the underground in London because there was a terrorist attack in July. Yes, it is frightening. Terrifying. Believe me, I am as soft as they come. I saw a shooting while sitting on my porch a couple of summers ago and was scared shitless but it doesn’t mean I never sit on my porch anymore. And I’m not going to stop riding the metro because of a horrible mugging. There has to be a balance. Screw those thugs. I’ll try to be smart. I’ll try to be especially alert in the evening. I’ll put my ipod away. I’ll avoid dark walkways. But I’m riding the freaking metro. The more people that are out and about the safer we will be, I believe. Of course, the victim himself could understandably not ever want to take the metro again. I’m not talking about that.

41 Comment

  • I no longer ride the metro unless absolutely necessary. Instead I walk or take the bus. This however, has nothing to do with safety or lack thereof, but with the craptastic nature of our Metro system. At least with the bus, you can get off the darn thing if you’re stuck in traffic or it breaks down. The same cannot be said for Metro.

  • PoP, could not agree with you more. We cannot give in to the thugs and their patethic ways. We can and should use our head of course, as you say.

  • My friend was mugged on his way home from the metro and he has stopped taking the train home in the evening. Now, he waits for a bus to drop him off in front of his apartment. I can’t blame him, though. With thugs running around, and with guns no less, you can’t trust their parents or the city to protect you.

  • I agree with your position about finding your own comfort level. While mine varies with how many beers I have had, generally, if I am metroing home late, I will get out at Columbia Heights instead of Petworth. I’m about 2 blocks closer to Petworth, but the walk to CH is far better traveled and feels much safer. And there are more pubs to stop at on my way home, too.

    Anyway, being mugged is very traumatizing. Give your friend some time. I have only been mugged once in this city, at gunpoint with my now ex-wife. In front of my house in Adams Morgan. We were not hurt at all, but even so, it was easily a year before I stopped looking over my shoulder all the time, and the incident definitely changed my habits somewhat. In the long run I’m more comfortable now than I was even before the mugging, but that’s just by nature of having lived in the city much longer and trusting my street instincts better. Never been mugged again since, that was 12 years ago.

  • With all the scary stuff going around Petworth these days, my roommates and I agreed not to walk around anywhere after dark by ourselves. And on Metro, especially late at night after work, I’ll keep my iPhone inside my coat, walk directly to the station, well-lit areas etc. I was hassled in a metro station once, and it scared the crap out of me, but I start taking taxis to and from work, so I just have to suck it up.

  • Once you’ve had a gun pointed in your face after being followed from the metro you might change your mind. I do not take the metro anymore, and I have not give in to the thugs either – I’m being realistic about safety. You can’t report crime and try to clean things up if your dead. I’m not telling people to stop riding metro, I’m just saying be more careful and thoughtful of how tramatic a mugging like that can be.

  • ColorMePetworth, I agree that you have to be realistic. But that doesn’t mean never walking on the streets of DC. Practically speaking, your risk of being a victim of violent crime is very low. It may increase if you’re a woman or drunk or small or a member of a gang or something, but overall, it’s not an especially likely way to get hurt in the city.

    In fact, statistically, suburban residents are at greater risk of serious injury and death than urban residents. The increased risk of being in an accident from the amount of time they spend in a car, is much greater than the increased risk we face because of crime. There are a number of analyses that you can find with google that show that even living in the most dangerous inner-city neighborhoods and NOT commuting by car, is probably safer than a moderate commute. And these analyses don’t even account for the fact that most violent crime in cities is gang related, meaning that the chances of YOU being a victim are much lower than the overall stats by population.

    And finally, even if you are mugged, if you are smart and don’t try to be a hero, in most situations you will not be harmed. There are no guarantees of course, but in the end just using your brain will get you through the ordeal in one piece. No possession is worth that risk. If someone sticks you up, give it up.

  • About a year ago I was out at happy hour with a bunch of friends from work and we were talking about whether anyone had been mugged…well, interestingly it turned out almost every single guy had been mugged and practically none of the women. These are friends who have probably been in DC at least a few years and live in DC in a variety of neighborhoods – Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, U Street, Shaw, Dupont, Petworth, Capitol Hill. I don’t know if the guys just take a lot more risks (walking home late or after drinking) or maybe there is chivalry among muggers (ha!), but I thought it was interesting.

  • Guys definitely take more risks. I walk around at night by myself all the time in Columbia Heights, I don’t know many women who do. And while I am sure I’ll get hit sooner or later, I am not willing to smother my quality of life because of that fear. Much like I am not going to never drive a car, or do other relatively dangerous activities like downhill skiing, even though statistically, I know that sooner or later I will probably be in a serious accident.

    I live here BECAUSE there is stuff to walk to at night. If I was afraid to walk around at night, then what the would be the point? If I’m driving four blocks might as well drive four miles.

  • I agree, women for the most part have to be more careful and a lot smarter since they do generally have more to lose than men do, but men need to be careful too. I read an article about data someone compiled after interviewing convicted rapists. They said that women wearing pony tails and clothing that is easily removed, that are distracted with cell phones, ipods, digging through their purses etc are more likely to be targeted. Women who are paying attention to their surroundings, in lighted areas, around other people, and carrying objects that could be used as potential weapons, i.e. large umbrellas are less likely to be attacked. Also, it was suggested that you carry your keys in your palm with the keys pointing out between your knuckles as it makes for an easy makeshift weapon if someone was to quickly come at you.

  • If you stop using the petworth metro, the terrorists have won. G-dubs is at the Crawford ranch crying now. Look what you’ve done!

  • There was an attempted mugging in the 3900 block of 13th Street two weeks ago late at night. It failed. I hope the police were able to catch them. When we lived in Dupont before moving to Petworth, we received a monthly local newspaper with the crime list. PoP, think you could provide the list on your amazing site? You could read the listings and see the same muggers working a line of streets, laying off for two weeks, and then doing it again. It was clear we were talking about no more than a handful of people. I want to see us group together and nab these few ne’er-do-wells.

  • my old roommate in Petworth used to refuse to take the metro, and thought it was generally a waste of time. He drove all over the city (and spent much time searching for parking spots).
    Then he was mugged right in front of our house, by a bunch of thugs who jumped out of a car with Maryland plates and pistol whipped him.

    So you just never know.

  • Just wanted to note that the woman whose message started this thread (a neighbor of mine, that’s why I’m Anonymous this time) said she won’t ride the metro because her housemate was attacked. Not because she herself was attacked. Granted the incident was uniquely appalling, I mean they really beat the crap out of the victim. And I’ve been held up at gunpoint (20+ years ago in Chevy Chase of all places) so I know what that is and how it can rattle you.

    But, for context, it should be noted the woman also has said she wants to leave the city because of ugly third-floor popups… I don’t say that to demean her, she’s a nice person and has had more than her fair share of troubles over the years (like a stolen car literally landing in her yard).

    Still, it’s a good discussion. Personally I believe in a no-retreat approach, more good people and activity on the street will always have a positive effect.

  • Anon, it kind of comes down to what PoP said to start it, everyone’s got a comfort level. It sounds like for the neighbor we’re talking about here, maybe she’s just not cut out for city living. There’s no question it has it’s downsides, and I guess in the end those outweigh the positives for her. But for me, the balance isn’t even close, I despise the suburbs and this place is my home. I won’t just up and leave a place that’s been my home for 17 years because of some annoying (and occasionally really bad) shit that goes down once in a while.

  • “The writer says that the friend was severely beaten and as a result the writer doesn

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Just for clarity’s sake. I’m criticizing the friend for not riding the metro. I’m not criticizing the victim. In the post I also said “Of course, the victim himself could understandably not ever want to take the metro again. I

  • Hmmm, well the FRIEND’s housemate almost died. I did not see him but i head it was very severe, broken bones in his face and stitches everywhere…I think it was very shocking. I think having your housemate almost beaten to death counts as a personal experience!

  • I meant “heard” it was very severe…

  • I’ve always had a mental rule not to walk to/from the metro alone when it is dark. I think that’s good common sense for a woman, (or anyone for that matter, but to each his/her own). When I do walk alone at night, it’s to walk my dog after work, but I try to stay in well-lit areas and probably because she’s a bigger dog, no one has ever so much as hassled me.

    Yesterday evening I got home and it was still very light out, my husband had already walked the dog, so I thought I’d go for a run by myself (the dog is old and not a great running partner anymore). I had the pony tail, the iPod, the whole nine yards. Somewhere along the line, I realized that a car had slowed down and was driving right next to me, full of “gentlemen” offering all sorts of “compliments” and gestures and altogether creepy greetings. I ignored them, and eventually they drove away, but It only takes a car full of nasty strange men following your for a block or so before you start planning your escape route, wondering if fight or flight would be the best method etc. It ended up being a good reminder that you never can/should really let your guard down (or listen to music while walking/running).

    So- long story short, I don’t know how effective it is to have black and while do or don’t rules about safety in the city. I think that, in my case at least, they can lead to being letting your guard down in “non risky” situations.

  • Lets not forget that someone was just recently MURDERED mere blocks away from the Petworth Metro. I wonder why people don’t feel comfortable in that area?

  • It is very sad to be scared all the time. If you are really too scared to walk around in your own neighborhood perhaps it is time to move. That is no way to live. I for one am generally comfortable in Petworth and pretty much all over DC. I’m not niave enough to think that nothing will happen, but the day that I start being that scared, I’m moving.

  • I’ve lived in the district for 12 years and in Petworth for over 7 years, I always ride metro and walk alone at night (and I’m a tiny blonde woman), and the only times I’ve been a victim of crime have been in Cleveland Park and Union Station, all before I learned how to stay alert about my surroundings, look like I’m not an easy target, stay off the phone, take off the earbuds, and carry pepper spray obviously in my hand and ‘show’ it to anyone who looks suspicious. I understand that there are folks who are afraid, but there are steps we can all make us less likely targets. Do what you need to do, but please be smart about it and get some self-defense training if it will make you more comfortable. You can buy pepper spray in Maryland.

  • Not having a car, I use metro constantly. I do prefer the bus though since I’m lazy and it means a shorter walk home, but also because the route to/from the metro always seems so deserted. Over the weekend I did make a trip to the Petworth metro and had someone walk up and demand all my money. Fortunately other people were around so nothing came of it, or maybe it was a joke. Either way it made me think twice about the metro. I have to say that it is the first time this has ever happened to me in any of the places I’ve lived or traveled, which surprises me as someone who runs around on her own a lot and frequently comes home from work very late. The only person I know who has been mugged before was mugged twice within a 2 week period at her front door, so the comment about the same people and streets is interesting.

    That being said, I don’t think it’s the stop, but rather the system (quick get away, sometimes isolated or empty, etc.). In my hometown these concerns were brought up again and again when the city was considering a lightrail system, parts of which would involve a several minute elevator ride down where someone could take advantage there if not on the empty platform. They did decide to build it in the end.

    I’ve also read about small females, pony tail, accessible clothing, etc. and I wanted to add that I’ve also seen stuff saying you’re less likely to be a target if you make eye contact and greet the person first. Something about people connecting or identifying with you…

  • If we all agree that its unacceptable to have this kind of violence in our neighborhood then lets all at least make a commitment to call the police when we see anything even remotely suspicious when walking to/from the metro.

  • A few months ago on this, my favorite blog, I was ridiculed and even insulted (I will forgive and forget) for suggesting that walking home from the metro or from U Street late at night is quite unsafe. It is not at all in my personal comfort zone, to paraphrase what others are saying. And I tell my husband and children the same thing. I have been blessed that I have never had any bad experiences using the metro and will continue to use it during the day. But I drive to work, as it’s not on a metro line and just take the metro to go downtown infrequently.
    These accounts of our NEIGHBORS being attacked, robbed, held up, mugged, assaulted and harmed is very upsetting. But unlike getting mugged in Cleveland Park or Chevy Chase, chances are the criminals, and I’ll call them what they are, probably live nearby, right here in our beloved Petworth. If so-called gentrification causes any of these types to have to move out because their building goes condo, or they can’t pay property taxes in the house grandma left them, oh well. It’s not the so-called gentrifiers who are hitting anyone over the head.

  • yeah, ditto to what Cliff says. Even though I defended the original poster’s decision not to take the metro anymore, I still take it every day knowing what happened. I have looked at crime stats on DC.gov’s crime map website, and muggings like this happen all over DC. I guess after reading through these comments I don’t want my comments to look like i think people should be afraid of crime here because even though I’m cautious, I don’t feel like Petworth is any more dangerous than other neighborhoods where I’ve lived (Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant)

    If you look at the stats there really aren’t drastic differences. Street crimes like robberies are higher along U Street, 18th St in Adams Morgan and in Columbia Heights than in Petworth. To me Petworth seems similar to Mt. Pleasant in that the neighborhood streets are just quiet without a lot of foot traffic so the perception is of greater danger, when it’s a lot of the more heavily trafficked areas that actually have more crime.

    One tip though, I see that to the north of the metro, there are a lot more crimes that happen on Georgia Ave and New Hampshire Ave than on 8th St. I used to walk home on Georgia every day until I noticed that – now I walk home past the ROC (Police offices/community center on Shepherd and 8th).

  • Shaw resident here. I can’t tell you how much I HATE that I don’t always feel safe in my own neighborhood. I also HATE when people suggest to move to the suburbs if you don’t feel safe. Why should I move away from where I want to live, because a few thugs where never taught how to be decent human beings?? Here is the solution in my opinion: tougher laws. When someone is arrested for a crime such as assault, they need to be punished SEVERELY. They need/deserve a long prison sentence. The “bleeding hearts” that want to help these troubled youths have obviously never been a victim of a mugging.

  • Man, I feel like an idiot; I’ve never even thought about not walking home from the Metro. Perhaps that’s because I live really close, right next to the Safeway. Is that too far to walk safely, you think?

    I think people need to pick their own comfort level. I grew up in the suburbs, liked it fine. I live in the city now, I like it fine. I place no value judgment on personal preferences.

  • Christina – I don’t think it’s too far. Then again I’ve been walking home from the bus stop at Georgia and NH for many years now.

    I’ve been harassed on occasion, although not recently. But my personal experience of crime in Petworth has been property crime, not personal crime.

  • When I pick up my wife from the metro in the evenings, some days I see cases of folks walking home while READING. Looking up once in a while to cross the street or whatever. So in the context of this thread, let it be said that reading while walking is kind of asking for it.

  • By ‘it’ I mean getting mugged, creamed by a car, poked in the eye by a low branch, whatever… 😉

  • It’s a shame that you can’t walk home from a long day of work without looking over your shoulder or listening to you iPod on your way home. I mean, what’s the point of having an iPod if you can’t use it when your running, jogging, walking, or exercising? Your neighborhood should be safe enough were you can live your life freely. DC is very backwards. The prices of homes do not reflect the real market value of living in unsafe nieghborhoods that lack basic amenities. No wonder people are leaving the city once they a child that is ready to start school.

  • Riding on the metro isn’t the problem really, it’s the area outside the stations. Maybe there’s something we can do to make that area more safe. Maybe cameras, or officers.

    I was mugged one block from the U street metro station at gunpoint by two dudes sitting outside just waiting for someone to take advantage of. Now, if I’m in the area, I run two and from those stations.

  • I think I blogged about this last time too but maybe an escort service (not that kind) from the metro after dark would work. My experience with violence at petworth metro occurred while waiting for my husband to meet me and walk me home. I waited and waited while 5 or 6 cops stood by the entrance of the metro. Little did I know that my husband had been hit in the head with a rock, dragged into an alley and kicked and punched by three men on Spring Road between 11th and 10th on his way to pick me up. It sucks, but I (we) still take the metro. But I think something like an police escort (like they have on college campuses) would make people feel safer (like you could just have a phone at the exit with a direct line to cops). It would also make the cops circulate the neighborhood instead of standing in one place while crimes happen just out of sight. Maybe Ms. Bowser could do this. It is probably tricky because Spring Road is not only the border between wards but also police districts. I think there are many columbia heights people who find it more convenient to take petworth exit…

  • Good idea but let me take it a bit further. How about posting to a vetted group of Petworth e-mailers when you are planning to arrive at the P-worth Metro and some info about where you will be walking after you arrive at the station? This could allow people to accompany one another while walking without having to incur the expense of hiring security/ protection service. I’m not sure how the specifics would work, but walking in pairs, triples, etc. is certainly safer than going it alone. And the list would clearly need to be “vetted” and recipients should be personally known by existing members before they are included in the e-mail loop.

    And one more thing – I believe the time has come for new ideas to make this community a safer place to live for law-abiding citizens, even if it means a temporary cessation of some of our constitutional rights.

  • A lot of people have that mentality where using an iPod, headphones, cell phone, etc. will help them tune out the chaos going on in the outside world. I’ll admit of being guilty of using my cell phone and headphones when out and about, but I’m curbing that habit because in all honesty it doesn’t work. Sketchy men will still talk to you (if you’re a female) regardless, and it does make you less alert of your surroundings.

    I’ve learned from a safety workshop to never use your headphones—not even in the daytime, and to only use your cell phone in case of an emergency, not to have a lengthy conversation (even the “talk with a friend on the phone to feel safe”-type conversations don’t do anything to make you safer or more alert).

    Also, making noise helps. When I have to go home alone at night, I’ll have my keys in my hands (as opposed to buried in my purse) and jingle them. I sing out loud as well, not caring how bad I sound. Any type of noise makes you less vulnerable to attacks.

  • Yeah- headphones in public are just freaky. For some reason, I’d forgotten that the other day. I must have been caught up with spring fever or something. That’s the main reason I didn’t realize the car full of crazies were following me until they’d be tailing me for a while-couldn’t hear them.

    Another, but unrelated reason not to run with headphones- you can’t use them in organized runs or competition, so don’t train with music lest you become “addicted” to it!

    I say, let’s bring back the on-the-shoulder ghetto-blaster! (no, not really.)

    Golden Silence- regarding “But sometimes one doesn

  • I live in a NE, so I know not to wear my headphones when walking in my neighborhood. All I’m saying is it is ashame that you can’t utilize your iPod when walking/exercising. When else can you use it? I can’t wait for the gun ban to end. As soon as it does I’m may just go and buy a weapon so watch out thugs, if you attack me be prepared for a world of hurt.

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