The Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia won USA Today’s Best Urban Trail award in 2015. It’s regularly featured on tourism material for Philadelphia and is a picturesque recreational site in the city. But over the last few months, there’s been an outcry from the community that regularly uses the trail. Specifically, over reports of robbery, harassment, and other violent crimes.

That’s why a recent push by community members, organizations and Philadelphia officials for a safer Schuylkill River Trail has taken shape in recent weeks. That push has been aided by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who is working in collaboration with members of Run125, city’s Town Watch Integrated Services and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia to make the trail a safe place for anyone who wants to use it.

On Thursday, February 11, community members met at Lloyd Hall to discuss what can be done to make the trail safer for all users. As reported by Philly.comPPD Capt. Ray Convery, was also in attendance and let the crowd know that the PPD has been increasing bike patrols but the trail is a long stretch to cover.

“We need your help,” the story quotes Covery as saying.

To get more “sneakers and tires on the ground,” so to speak, Councilman Johnson announced the formation of the Schuylkill River Watch. This group currently has 60 volunteers and is looking to add even more people to its roster to patrol an area that will be determined once the program progresses. Johnston also said he would be promising $1,000 for vests and walkie-talkies for use by the watch group.

Safety along the trail for all users is an important issue. Recent attacks have involved groups of four to five young men on bicycles. Two of the suspects in attacks which occurred earlier this month were apprehended. Besides increased patrols by police and the community, we feel there are a number of other measures which should be put in place, and have voiced them at public forums. They include:

  • Clear street markers underneath bridges that cross over the trail
  • Increased lighting to enhance visibility
  • Installation of security cameras
  • A standard system of miles markers

Of these issues, the mile markers and bridge labels are the quickest and easiest measures than can be put in place. This will give those who need assistance the ability to clearly communicate their location to police. This was an issue for a woman who was attacked in October. Here is a page from the Schuylkill River Development Corporation which shows the best intersections to currently use if someone needs help from police.

Members of the coalition who wish to become trail watch members can contact or Anthony Murphy of the city’s Town Watch Integrated Services at 215-686-1459 or if you have questions, contact our Policy Director Bob Previdi at bob@bicyclecoalition.org

You will also be able to sign up for the patrols through our website on a page we’re currently working on.

-Zach Mentzer

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