From the Forum Part 2 – Safety on the MBT?

Safety on the MBT?

“I was looking for more information on the safety of the Metro Branch Trail. I work in Brookland and would love to run home on the trail as it goes straight to my house. However, I’ve read the previous PoP posts on violence and attacks on the MBT. Does anyone have any advice or updated information on whether the police patrol or not? I would hope to be on it in the early evening an hour or so before sunset.”

25 Comment

  • Avoid at all costs. While it may be convenient, it is not worth the risk.

    • It’s great, and no less safe than walking on U St. on a Saturday night. More and more people are using it, and that in turn will make it better. There are tons of people running and biking on weekends.

      You should check out the upcoming 5K, might change your close-minded perception.

  • brookland_rez

    There’s muggings from time to time. Especially in the summer. I have used it to run on since it opened 4 years ago and I haven’t had any issues. If you’re going to use it, definitely keep an eye on your surroundings. And put the Ipod and cell phone away.

    • Never used this trail, but will second the call to put away iPods, phones, etc. when running. Not only do you make yourself an attractive target for criminals (who is easier to assault – someone paying attention or someone who is distracted?) but your obliviousness becomes a minor annoyance to others on the trail who may need to pass you (e.g., bikes, faster runners, etc). Think about your time outdoors as an opportunity to use all of your senses to experience the now.

  • I bike to work every day using this trail and have never encountered a problem, even at night and in the height of shorter days/longer nights. Have there been instances of violence on the trail? Yes — but this is DC and there are instances of violence across the city. DCPD increases patrols during warmer weather and the summer months and the WABA is frequently on the trail as well. As the weather warms up, more and more people use the trail. Just be smart about your surroundings (I wouldn’t recommend wearing headphones, or if you do, keep the volume low) and perhaps carry mace or pepper spray. This would be something I’d say to anyone running on a trail at night though.

    • Agreed. I ride on this trail regularly in the warmer months. I probably wouldn’t go on it after dark, just due to its isolation from the street grid, but during the early evening there are always other people around and I personally have not felt unsafe (I’m a woman, fwiw).

      • I forgot to add: There are still a few cameras on the trail in low-visibility areas after a high-profile incident last year, and I occasionally see WABA folks and cops biking on the trail.

        • Another woman here. Completely agree with the two posts above, and I bike in almost all conditions (though I don’t take the trail after dark). Based on your post it sounds like you probably live in NoMa or Eckington – during the hours you described I think you’re just as safe on the MBT as you are on most streets in those neighborhoods.

    • i use the trail almost everyday for biking and have never had a problem

  • I’ve been wondering if it would be safe to commute either by bike or running when I have my son with me. Does anyone use the trail with a kid?

    • I’ve seen people with strollers and a mother out on a modified bike with her two kids sitting behind her. Try it, see what you think.

    • I have been walking home on it from the NOMA Metro. Station to R Street for the last 7 months with my 3 year-old daughter, usually between 5 and 6pm and I haven’t had any issues.

  • I use the southern part of the trail from time to time and have never had a problem. Even a little after dark, there are others out using the trail and I’ve never felt like I’m all alone.

    Think of it this way: by riding on the trail you’re making it safer for everyone else! Eyes on the street!

    • I’ve been using it for about a year and would add that I’ve definitely noticed usage of the MBT increasing in that time. Runners, walkers, and cyclists. I’d love to see one of the old warehouses on the trail in Eckington re-purposed as mixed-use with a coffee shop/sidewalk cafe right on the trail!

      • I share this dream for one of the Eckington warehouses. I walk and ride my bike on the trail all the time during daylight. At night, it feels a bit too remote. I don’t worry about safety on the trail any more than anywhere else in the city. Follow others’ advice to stay off your phone and pay attention to your surroundings. If you see large packs of kids, consider whether you’d feel more comfortable exiting the trail. As others have mentioned, there are MPD bike patrols and WABA trail rangers. Traffic is lighter during winter, but there will be a ton more people out there, especially during typical commute times, as the weather warms up. Frankly, I feel a lot safer on the trail than navigating the traffic of Dave Thomas Circle when I’m traveling between NoMa and Eckington.

  • It’s kind of a tough call. I’ve used the MBT a lot of times during the summer, but I’m on a bike, I’m a big guy and I prominently carry my U-lock in my belt that can be pulled out for self-defense if need be. It seems that incidents happen during the summer months when kids are out of school. But for better or worse, because of the high profile attacks last year, there has been more of a spotlight on security on the MBT.

  • Statistically speaking, you are probably safer on that trail than you are taking the roads. My guess is that you are more likely to be injured by an impatient motorist than a bored teenager. I have no evidence to back that up though.

  • I live a block from the trail and it’s mostly fine during the day. There might be a few kids hanging out smoking weed during the daytime, but they’re not bothering anyone. I would just avoid it at night at all costs.

  • I have biked the trail twice a day every day for the past five years and have never had a problem. There are infrequent muggings on the trail, especially in the summer, but I doubt the incidence is any more than in any other part of the city. If you see groups of teenagers, turn around. If you feel unsafe, wait for someone else going the same way you are and walk with/near them.

  • Using it is the only way to make it safer.

  • I had a good friend who was beaten up and robbed on the trail one evening at around 930. He is OK now, but he still has some scarring. The group that attacked him was somewhere between 10-16 people. I think the authorities are working to make this trail safer. I would recommend trying to use the trail in groups. The more people that use the trail the safer it will become. Think of some of the other trails in the city, they are filled with people and it would be hard for anything to happen.

  • I saw today’s post about safety on the MBT and thought I could provide some answers and reassurance to DC residents who are not on the trail regularly.

    Last July, WABA launched our Trail Ranger program focussing on DC trails including the Met Branch Trail. Our ranger patrols were out daily and covered over 800 miles up and down the MBT alone in three months. While we’ve had a smaller trail presence during the winter, we are putting together our team to start up expanded trail patrols in May, again with a big focus on the MBT.

    From our time on the Met Branch, we know that the trail is already busy in mornings and evenings. Warmer weather brings even more people out, on bikes and on foot and even with kids in tow. More eyes on the trail make it a safer and more enjoyable space for everyone. And we are fortunate that we’re not alone. A community of regular trail users, neighbors, MPD, and Trail Rangers is committed to keeping the trail on the right track.

    As with any place in the city, caution is important. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions. For some real reassurance, though, come check the trail out! We invite anyone to tag along on Tuesday evening patrols starting at 5:30 pm at 2nd & F st. NE heading northwards.

  • This was all incredibly helpful and I want to thank everyone for their responses! Very useful.

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