by Kathy Marlor
If you use the Pinellas Trail for recreation or any trail for that matter, you probably don’t think much about personal protection or safety. After all, most of us go to a trail to have a safe place to ride our bikes, rollerblade or take a walk.
Recently, two attacks on bicyclists happened on the Pinellas Trail in St. Petersburg during the evening. During the attacks one bicyclist was shoulder-checked hard and was lucky to stay on his bike and gain enough distance away from the two teens that attacked him to call police.
The second man wasn’t as lucky and was attacked by four teens who repeatedly kicked him in the head and beat him as one of them made off with his $1,500 bicycle. It’s a good thing that he had his helmet on, as he’ll be okay.
How can you stay safer while enjoying yourself out and about?
Here are a few tips that could help you:
1. Go with a group or at least bring another friend with you when you go to a recreation trail. You’ll be less likely to be targeted as a victim when you’re with others. You’ll notice in each news story I’ve placed links to on the page, that the victims were alone.
2. If your schedule allows, try to use the trail during busier times rather than times when no one else is around. Crimes such as the ones described will be less apt to occur when other people are readily nearby.
3. Keep your eyes opened wide for good hiding places, other people that look out of place and listen to your gut. Most past victims have been ambushed or quickly attacked after spotted. If you see a group of people hanging around who aren’t dressed for exercise; or you have a bad feeling, take action to stay away from them or go in the opposite direction. Be sure to have your cellphone or any personal defense item you have with you ready to use…just in case.
4. Learn how to use verbal boundaries and commands with the “bad dog” voice to tell someone to “Stop right there!” or “Stay away from me” for example. Strong verbal commands can help stop an attacker from targeting you as a victim. You can learn verbal defense skills during scenario training in an Intro to Fast Defense course I teach.
5. Have a ear piercing personal alarm or very loud horn mounted on your bike, in a carry bag, or with you that can quickly be accessed at the first sign of potential trouble. Personal alarms like the Screecher resemble a very loud horn and can help scare off would-be attacker(s).
6. In case you find yourself in a bad situation that requires your defensive action, consider carrying pepper spray (learn how to properly use it before you have a personal emergency), mace, a cell phone stun gun or other legal weapons for protection.
By taking preventative measures to not get surprised by yourself on the trail, you can cut down your risk of being victimized. Material items certainly aren’t worth getting injured over. However, it makes sense to learn and take preventative action to help avoid being targeted as an easy victim while you’re out having fun, doesn’t it?
Here are a few past articles on Pinellas Trail attacks below. If you’re interested in self defense training, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.