Dear PoPville – Safety on the Metropolitan Branch Trail?

Dear PoPville,

I’m moving to Brookland from SW and I’d like to use the Metropolitan Branch Trail to get to work in Penn Quarter. I remember there were a lot of incidences with bikers being harassed on the trail a while back. Have you heard of similar incidents recently or have some of those issues been resolved?

14 Comment

  • There have been some serious problems along this trail (if I remember some serious assaults and/or rapes. They need to have full security camera surveillance of this trail.

  • If by resolved you mean that you can now safely meander along the trail with your headphones in blasting Gotye while updating your Twitter feed on your iPhone 4G without fear of being beaten over the head, then no. Stick to the Mount Vernon Trail for such activities.

  • Welcome to the neighborhood. If you commute during normal commuting hours, you probably won’t be the only person out there. If you feel uncomfortable riding alone, try waiting for another rider at the trail ramp near M street or try to set up a riding partner on I biked to and from work during the winter and still saw a few other people. The northbound trip, since it goes up hill, is more of a concern than the southbound trip.

  • Has youth violence in NE DC been resolved yet? Hmmmm, good question.

  • I’ve never had a problem riding it. Just keep your eyes open, like everywhere in the city.

  • I would think that when the Trilogy NoMa, or NoMa West, or whatever it is called starts renting and fills up, there will be a lot more foot traffic on the trail around the area just north of the New York Ave metro. This should help a bit.

  • I’ve recently started biking to work and I use this trail to get to Union Station from Brookland. I have not heard of any recent incidents and I see quite a lot of people on the trail in the morning and evening. There are survellance cameras along the trail and last week I saw a police officer driving ON the trail. I have also seen a police car or two stationed at the access point on 8th street.

    For now I feel safe on the trail as a woman – not sure what I will do in winter as it will be darker earlier. I think the poster aaa had some great suggestions.

    • I’m a woman commuter too. Doing anything by myself, at night, in DC makes me a little nervous. I really have had good luck catching other riders between 5 and 5:30 during the winter. I didn’t see many people loitering near the trail when it got cold.

      If I don’t feel safe biking home, I take the 80 bus until my ride come becomes downhill. One bonus piece of advice, lock your front wheel to the frame before putting your bike on the bus. I saw a bike get stolen of the front of a bus at Potomac Ave metro station.

  • I ride the trail everyday back and forth, often at midnight, and have never had an interaction in which I felt threatened. Recommend using a bell on your bike to alert people to your approach. It will give you the distance to better evaluate whether people’s intentions.
    The trail could definitely use some lights under the NY Ave bridge, and emergency call boxes.

    • According to old chatter in the yahoo group, lights will be added to the underside of the bridge when construction finishes.

  • It has been awhile since anything serious happened on the trail. I would suggest that you join the MBT facebook group, as it will keep you updated on any incidents that happen (most recent discussions have been about what kind of motorized bikes are allowed on the trail and what kind aren’t, rather than any discussions of violence) – but more importantly you’ll hear about all the GREAT stuff that happens on the trail. These include clean up days, national night out events, WABA events and more. Sure, the trail could use more lights in some places, but I rode it all winter long – riding up the trail by myself around 5ish, and back down the trail with kids in tow around 6ish. And I ride a big heavy bike – I can’t book along like some folks. Oh, and I’m due with my third child in a few weeks – so was doing the ride pregnant from January-May. You are no more likely to have encounter a problem on the trail than you are on a Saturday night in Adams Morgan.
    Point is, I clearly think it is pretty safe!

  • I bike from Brookland to Dupont and back every day. The MBT used to be the first and last mile of my commute during the summer (I won’t go near it in winter when it gets dark at 4pm). There hadn’t been any assaults in a while and I was feeling pretty safe, but then one day this past June I was biking home at 7pm and passed a whole bunch of cop cars taking a report from a guy who had just been jumped by a group of kids. It was broad daylight out, and this guy was easily 6’2″ and fairly well muscled. I’m a woman. If they’re not afraid to jump a big dude in broad daylight, I shudder to think what they would do to me. I haven’t ridden the MBT since.

    It’s a shame. It’s a great bike trail. I loved riding it. But it’s just too isolated for me to feel safe riding it alone. Even security cameras don’t help– a grainy photo of a teenager in blue jeans and a white shirt isn’t going to narrow down the search much.

  • brookland_rez

    I run on it 3-4 times a week for the past year and have never had a problem. I don’t have anything with me except my keys and I keep a good check over what’s coming up from behind and what’s around me.

  • I ride it every day to work both ways. It’s the best part of my commute and I would recommend it. In the morning I tend to see more people than in the evening. I ride it in the dark as well, with a light on my bike. I think a lot of the problems have involved slow moving traffic, e.g., pedestrians.

    I also don’t believe you’re at greater risk on these trails because your female as the incidents that did occur had no sexual bias.

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