“I wanted to give my fellow bikers a head’s up that we aren’t completely immune to being mugged”

via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to give my fellow bikers a head’s up that we aren’t completely immune to being mugged. I was recently biking around 9:15 pm near 5th and N St NW when I was pushed from behind and hit over the head with a gun (I was actually biking, not sitting at a red light). One of the guys was standing on the edge of the bike lane, looking like he was about to open a car door and was waiting for me to pass. As I went around him (I could only give him so much room as there was a car driving next to me), he pushed and hit me. After falling (and nearly being run over) three men were on me. After three more hits over the head, they took my phone and took off as cars arrived on 5th St. Fortunately I was wearing a helmet so the only injuries I received were from the bike fall. I hopped on my bike and took off. The MPD have been professional and helpful through the entire process.

I don’t think I could have done anything different as I wasn’t drunk, wasn’t wearing a backpack, and didn’t have my headphones on or phone out). As a biker (and a pretty big guy) I tend to feel safer than walkers. I think we are still safer, but not immune. Keep alert.”

54 Comment

  • omg, things are getting out of control…

  • orderedchaos

    Scumbags. Glad you are okay.

  • I’ve been riding down 5th and N to avoid 7th & N. I guess I’m out of good options.

  • Wow! Not much more you could have done considering they had a gun. Hopefully, you were able to give good descriptions to the police. Your post has made me invest in a bike camera.

  • Glad you’re well. My friend mounts a GoPro like camera to his helmet (for this type reason and just normal traffic accidents and idiots, etc). I’m hoping they get cheaper and smaller and become more prevalent. Not to saying this to victim blame in the slightest, honestly. Just sharing an idea a friend uses.

    • It’s really sad that the only real way to protect yourself from both muggings and ahole drivers while biking is by buying a $300 camera to mount on your helmet. It’s almost to the point where you have to carry a baseball bat around to protect yourself.

      • I was thinking the same thing while I was writing it, tbh. I almost felt bad suggesting it, other than I do suppose it could be helpful.
        It’s just a shame that there’s that kind of random violence. Or systemic factors leading to the prevalence of random violence, I guess…. but now I’m just being poetic. I suppose a camera is a simpler short-term solution, even if it makes me feel conflicted in an Orwellian way.
        That said, if someone could make a good, cheap GoPro type helmet-cam, they’d sell like mad.

      • We actually prefer to carry artisanal jousting lances (aka, pool cues) to skewer would be muggers.

        The racing set prefers a carbon fiber model (aka, a trekking pole) to shave grams.

    • “Not to saying this to victim blame in the slightest, honestly.”

      We are reaching peak manufactured outrage levels when posters put this in as a disclaimer.

      Totally agree with you on you point though btw

      • Hahah. I know, it was a little premature. I just REALLY didn’t want to accidentally come off as telling a guy who just got pistol-whipped while on his bike that “hey man, shoulda had a camera.”

    • This does help with accidents involving cars, but I don’t think strapping a highly visible several hundred dollar piece of technology to your body is the best way to avoid getting mugged. And the footage will be useless to investigators if it’s in the hands of the thieves who stole the camera. Just saying.

      • always check the shoes — clothing can be ditched but robbers aren’t going anywhere in bare feet. They don’t want to get id’d but getting the shoes right can really help the cops catch them. Doesn’t help prevent but may help catch. If I had to choose from lousy options I’d rather give up phone over bike

      • Yeah, hate to bust everyone’s bubble, but a camera hasn’t stopped criminals from killing, stealing, maiming, etc. It certainly won’t protect you- it might help in a criminal case and all the aftermath, but the camera itself wouldn’t have prevented the original incident.

      • orderedchaos

        My thought exactly—I’ve often thought about a camera, but if they take the camera then it doesn’t do much good… and it may just make you a more interesting target with a fancy-looking camera on your bike or helmet.

  • Super scary. I believe there is a security camera set up at that intersection. Any chance this got recorded?

  • That’s so terrifying. I can’t even imagine what would’ve happened if you didn’t have a helmet.

  • How scary! I’m glad the drivers were able to avoid you and that the police are trying to help. I agree, there is not much more you could have done.

  • Anonomnom

    I used to live 1 block from there about 3 years back and would bike (and walk) that area all the time. I remembered being struck by how non-threatening the area was, especially given the gang violence from the 5th & O’s and 7th & O’s as recently as 2010. So sad to see how bad that area has slipped in just two years :/

    • Anonomnom

      edit: just three years* Sorry. Monday brain.

    • As someone that lives near here, I would say that I found this incident very surprising, and indeed uncommon for the immediate area. I usually feel quite safe on 5th Street, despite the things going on over on 7th/O.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if this was some of the kids who used to hang out outside the south Shaw metro. That’s one spot where I wouldn’t mind if MPD kept a semi-permanent post.

    • I live at 4th and N NW and that corner is always trouble. The cops are often there doing random car checks or parked at the intersections and there is one of those dystopian police boxes on the telephone pole.

  • Wow- you could have been killed. When I was doing bike safety research before becoming a city biker, I learned that people have been killed after being doored, falling down, and then being run over by cars passing on their left. You’re fortunate that your incident wasn’t worse.
    I’ve got no comment on the actual incident. I’ve taken note as a fellow biker, but the things I’d like to say are unprintable. So… on a positive note, glad the OP is ok.

  • What date did this incident occur?

  • I’ve posted this before. There is a cool camera for a $100 that I’ve had for about a year now and it’s great because it comes with all the different mounts (including one for bike and another for helmet). It’s not as great quality as GoPro but it does the trick. https://vidicameras.com

    • Is this just an ad for your camera? Or do you honestly think it’s somehow relevant to this post?

      • I guess you didn’t see the posts above where a few folks were talking about helmet-cams. It is relevant to the discussion.

        • You mean the one where the near unanimous consensus was that it’s a stupid idea?

          • Unaninimous consensus that helmet cams are stupid? Absoutely not – they aren’t going to deter a criminal but will videotape what happens. A video – possible photos of suspects – would be valuable information.
            Friends use bikes on camera because in case of accident as the biker is usually found at fault

          • Mean on the internet. *eyeroll*

        • Thanks for sharing info on a camera that is a good alternative to the costly GoPro

  • justinbc

    “I wanted to give my fellow bikers a head’s up that we aren’t completely immune to being mugged.”
    Are there really some clueless DC residents out there who think that this is the case? I would imagine that unless you’re under Secret Service detail, or a cop in uniform, that any single one of us is capable of being mugged in the city if people really want something from you.

    • He obviously wasn’t arguing that bikers are literally “not capable” of being mugged — the “completely” qualifier is even there.

      Please don’t pretend like it’s not rare to see a report of a biker being attacked…

    • Statistically bikers (not on the MBT) have been mostly immune from being mugged for years. I mean think about it; you’re walking around 11th Street with a gun and have your choice between some hapless drunks wandering up Colombia or someone shooting towards you on a bike. Which seems easier?

  • Sorry that happened to you. I live two blocks north at P. I would say that stretch is normally pretty safe and well-traveled, except the corner store there is completely shady and known for selling Scooby Snax.

    • Please report the corner store to the police.

      • I’m pretty sure the police (-and- the FBI) know about this one. I’m not sure why it’s still open, but DC authorities are very aware of the synthetic drugs they sell. It comes up regularly at ANC meetings and on the local listservs.

        • That’s discouraging. I thought that the D.C. government had changed the regulations and the punishment for a business selling synthetic marijuana was now going to be revoking its business license, rather than whatever slap on the wrist they were previously using.

        • Just because it’s on a listserv, doesn’t mean the cops are receiving the multiple reports. It amazes me how people flock to places like here to report their issues and think it’s the same thing as reporting it to the police. Not saying you’re doing this, but listserv mentionings are not the same thing as calling the police.

          • “listserv mentionings are not the same thing as calling the police.” I didn’t equate the two things. I have heard ANC commissioners discuss this place WITH the police at meetings, saying that the FBI had gotten involved. I would never discourage anyone from calling 911 with legitimate issues, including this one — I had a regular dialogue with the MPD when I lived in Shaw — and am certainly not doing that here. Just pointing out that it’s well known to authorities to be a shady place with synthetic drugs for sale.

    • I live a block from here, on Ridge. The corner store at 5th and N is the only thing on 5th Street that makes me feel uneasy. There are always people hanging outside the store. Most of them seem high on something, and they really like to yell at me and my dog. There are constantly cops outside, but they don’t seem to do much about the obvious drug use/illegal activities happening here.

  • This is just awful. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I live at 4 blocks from here, and this summer I’ve been avoiding the 5-7 blocks between L and P. I don’t know else residents can do.

  • I live at 5th and M so this is very disheartening. I walk on M regularly and have never had an issue or felt unsafe but I definitely avoid N, O, and P between 5th and 7th…I’m not sure what else to do either.

  • I live on Ridge Street half a block from where this happened and walk/bike regularly along that intersection. I’ve never had a Robles, but there have been a rash of car break ins on our street as well lately. Rumor is the uptick in crime is a direct response to the increased visibiility of the police in the neighborhood. Proving that it doesn’t matter. Not sure whether it’s true or not, but what does seem to be true is that the increased visibility hasn’t deterred crime.

  • I carry pepper spray. Can we organize some community marches? How about starting a Guardian Angels group here in DC? What happened to this new policing strategy where the cops have a tent on every corner? Can we proactively address this somehow?

    • Non-gun vigilantism is a great idea, though we could do without the reactionary politics of the Guardian Angels.

    • IMO trying to pepper spray someone w/a gun or one person out of a group is probably the worst thing you could possibly do, except as a measure of absolute last resort where your life (rather than you phone/wallet) is hanging in the balance.

  • I know a guy who was mugged at this exact intersection…in January 2014. Only he was severely beaten. This part of 5th Street has had this problem. It’s not just this summer… I generally avoid 5th Street after dark, as a result.

  • Yet another reason to always wear a helmet when biking.

  • This is less than 2 blocks away from the MPD’s 24 hour “tent” set up after a double shooting. on O st

    If that isn’t dissuading criminals from brazen attacks like this, what’s the bloody point?

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