Rangers to start patrols at Metropolitan Branch Trail after assa

Rangers to start patrols at Metropolitan Branch Trail after assault

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WASHINGTON -

D.C. police have been warning bicyclists since March not to ride the Metropolitan Branch Trail alone. And they stepped up patrols on the trail then too.

But it didn't stop a group of teenagers from knocking a 37-year-old Silver Spring man off his bike Tuesday and savagely beating him.

Runner Ben Miles was stopped in his tracks by the aftermath.

"There were lots of police cars, a fire engine, an ambulance, and there was a guy sitting over there next to the wall, and his face was covered in blood. I assumed it was a bike accident," Miles says.

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As it turns out, it was an assault. The victim is now recovering at home.

Sister Mary Jo Stein has been riding the trail for the last six months, and always felt safe, until now.

"I know when it was first built, there was some crime, but the neighborhood got involved and took back the trail," says Stein. "I didn't realize there was still a risk."

The Washington Area Bicyclists Association has gotten a grant from the District of Columbia Department of Transportation to start a Trail Ranger program on all four D.C. bike trails: Met Branch, Suitland Parkway, Anacostia Riverwalk, and Marvin Gaye.

The Rangers will start riding the trails beginning June 24th. They will also organize trail cleanup days, and institute a condition reporting system to let officials know when repairs are warranted.

Stein likes the program.

"A lot of times, there's a couple of D.C. police officers on bikes on the trail,” she says. “I don't know if there was a threat or what. But I think patrolling would be a good idea.”

And while any word of crime may keep some away from the trails, the diehards say the more people that use the trails, the safer they will feel.

"I feel pretty safe,” Shannon Bland says. “It's always people walking, people riding their bike, kids walking to school, kids walking from school. It seems pretty safe.”

Ben Miles says he will still keep putting in some miles on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, but he will be keeping a close eye on his surroundings now too.

"It's something to think about, but I'm not going to let it stop me from doing something I like to do," Miles says.

There will be a Met Branch Trail Safety Walk Friday at 6:30 p.m. to kick off the renewed Safety Effort there. It was organized by ANC Commissioner Tim Clark.

If you are interested, meet at the trail entrance at 3rd and Randolph Streets in Northeast.

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