Minneapolis Police Fail to Protect Bikers

A rash of robberies along Minneapolis’ East-West running bike highway, the Midtown Greenway, has generated a response from the Minneapolis Police Department. In their communication (I received it via email) they described the ongoing problem, then offered a pathetic piece of advice to citizens: avoid biking on Minneapolis’ bike highway after dark.

Here is the email:

Midtown Greenway – Hiawatha LRT Trail

Recently we’ve had series of robbery/assaults on the Midtown Greenway. They’ve occurred in both the 3rd and 5th Precincts at different locations along the trail.

Typically the victim is surrounded and pushed off their bicycle. The attackers are taking wallets, backpacks and purses. Many of the assaults have occurred after dark. Some have occurred during daylight hours. So far the attackers are not stealing the victim’s bicycles.

The suspects have been described by their victims as groups of 2 or 3 younger males. At this time we do not have more specific descriptions of the suspects. It appears that more than one group of suspects may be committing these crimes.

The Minneapolis Police Department is investigating these crimes. Police are doing extra patrol on the Greenway. The Police Dept. met with the Midtown Greenway Coalition to discuss some prevention strategies.

What You Can Do?

– If you can, avoid riding or walking the Greenway after dark.

– Whenever possible ride/walk with others, not alone. You are much safer with a group than you are alone.

– There are “Bluelight” phones at intervals on the Greenway that will connect you directly to 911. Carry a cell phone as well. If you aren’t close to a phone, you can call 911 if you need help.

– Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see people ahead of you, that make you nervous or uncomfortable, exit the Greenway at the nearest ramp.

– If you should be assaulted, try to stay calm. Give the attackers what they want. The more you resist, the more likely it is that you will be injured.

– Be sure to wear a bike helmet while riding. If will reduce you chances of injury considerably.

– When you call 911 give the operator your location. Due to recent changes in our police reporting system, the Greenway is now listed as a street (i.e. Midtown Greenway W. (Nicollet Ave. westward) and Midtown Greenway E. (East of Nicollet to the river). When you riding or walking during daylight hours take some time to familiarize yourself with the addresses of the cross streets over the trail. It will help ensure a quicker police response.

– If you have questions please contact Crime Prevention Specialist Don Greeley at the 3rd Precinct – 673-3482 or donald.greeley@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

Removing law-abiding citizens from a bike highway doesn’t make people safer: it caves to criminals. Molly Priesmeyer explained this well on Twitter:

Molly on MPLS Cops & Greenway

Dear Minneapolis Police: The problem here is not the bike-commuting, law-abiding, citizens of Minneapolis who use our trails 24 hours a day. It’s the criminals.

Would you tell people to stop driving down Hiawatha Ave after dark if cars were being stopped and robbed at random?

Solve the problem.

23 thoughts on “Minneapolis Police Fail to Protect Bikers”

  1. Sorry you feel so entitled to round the clock police protection. Certainly, the advice from the “police” is reasonable. If the advice isn’t good enough, or easy enough to follow, or you don’t have enough friendds to bike with, then too bad. There aren’t enough resources in the world to keep you safe from bad guys. You need to do what you need to do to protect yourself. Just grow up!

  2. Dennis, do you live in Minnesota? Do you know what time “night” comes to Minnesota?

    You’ve basically just called everyone who has to commute home from work juvenile. Good job.

  3. Sara:
    That’s a stretch: “Everyone who has to commute home from work is juvenile.” What I said above. You are not entitled to round the clock protection from the police. Just grow up already. What are you four years old? It is YOUR responsibility for self preservation. Just ask the US Supreme Court, it’s your responsibility, not the cop’s. Take the advice listed above from the police. They’re simple, reasonable measures. Welcome to big city living. If you don’t like it, then carry some means for protection, ride the train, ride the bus, drive a car in the winter, or move away from the city. I am so tired of you nanny state socialists that feel the world owes you something. If you want protection, pay for your own armed guard. Bad job-certainly you can come up with a better response than boo hoo, it gets dark so early here. Minnesota isn’t the only place in the country that gets dark early in the Winter.

  4. Dennis, I kind of dig your tough talk combined with a cave in to criminals argument.

    It seems like your life would be better if police protected our city’s bike commuters. For example, you’d have less cars to deal with.

  5. I was going to agree with Dennis, but that last comment was a joke.

    To me, this email sounds like the police are working with the Midtown Greenway Coalition to try to figure out a solution, and will have extra patrol on the Greenway, but also suggest some ideas for yourself. Avoid the Greenway at night was just one of many ideas (ride with a group, carry a cellphone, pay attention). Molly’s twitter makes it sound like the police don’t care and only offered that one bit of information.

  6. Let’s blow some more money on “green” trails in the city. It all sounds so lovely, everyone will just ride their bikes everywhere. What did you think would happen if you put more people on bikes in the heart of the crime district in Minneapolis.

    My husband could barely ride on the Park Ave bike lane to downtwon 10 years ago for fear he would breakdown or get assaulted. Then they pour money into the Midtown Greenway, a sunken trail with limited view by the public. Sounds like a crime magnet to me.

  7. Twice Blessed, people really do use these trails. A lot of people. Some to be green. Some for their health. Some because they don’t own a car. I wouldn’t consider providing safe trails for cyclists to be a waste of money. Do you really believe that?

    Why not work on solving the problem? For example, there are plenty of places to mount security cameras along the entire length of the Greenway. Perhaps that would be a way to patrol the trail?

  8. Thank you Twice Blessed. Someone with common sense. Funny thing, all of those bike trails were paid for with gas tax money. Rah rah, Go Green.
    Sorry Kohler doesn’t get it though. Who’s talking about caving in to criminals. He/she missed the part about protecting yourself. If he/she wants to ride his/her bike, great, but if you do it in a high crime area (which includes the entire city of Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs by the way) then you’re responsible for your own safety. Sorry for the reallity check, but the cops aren’t everywhere at all times. Moe, with my last comment, I was trying to return Sara’s favor of being condescending. Sorry I put it in there. So, I guess you can now fully agree with me.

  9. Kohler: What’s your solution, then? Cops on every corner? Billions of dollars directed to building “safe” bike trails? What? Cameras? When the dozen or so, full-time @ $50,000 a year government employees you’ll need to hire to monitor the too numerous cameras to see something going wrong, it’s still going to take several minutes for an officer to respond. By then, the perpetrators have fled and the victim is stil victimized. I haven’t seen any of those bicyclists you talk about coming forward to pay for their private grenways and full-time police protection. No, they want someone else to pay for them. You don’t have solutions. My guess is your just some college kid with all the ideals propagandized into your lazy mind. Not to be mean, but you need to grow up. And, you really do lack common sense. All I see from you are platitudes. Some people are hopeless when it comes to intellectual honesty.

  10. I’m from Minneapolis but I currently live in Japan; my father was recently mugged on the Greenway.

    I can’t believe what I’m hearing about “use common sense, avoid the Greenway.” The police are here to make the city safe. That’s their job. That’s why we pay them. I’m currently living in one of the biggest metro areas in the world, and I’ve never felt unsafe out alone at night. I can’t believe Dennis is suggesting putting up with this bullshit. There’s nothing “nanny state” about expecting to be safe in your own community. You’re blaming the victim here, and being a real asshole about it too.

    Frankly I’m glad I don’t have to deal like people with you in this country.

  11. If cars were being stopped and robbed on a major road and the police took this attitude there would be massive outrage. The greenway needs better security, encouraging less ridership as the police suggest is the opposite of a solution.

  12. Sorry Aaron, that’s not their job, that’s not why we pay them. They are reactive rather than proactive with respoct to crime. That’s just the way it is. Like I said, do you want a cop on every corner, useless cameras everywhere. Then you’ll complain about having your “privacy” rights violated. And, I didn’t say just put up with crime. Just stop blaming the cops for everything. Again, it’s your responsibility to protect yourself. There’s legal precedence for that. And, if your father was just mugged on your Japan greenway, then how can you feel so safe in that “biggest metro area in the world.” That’s contradictory. There are ways to protect yourself for God’s sake. And, using fowl language destroys your credibility. That’s a free life lesson from an old guy. Take it or leave it. I’m sure you’ll chose the latter.

  13. I don’t really understand Dennis’s main point, but I do feel I must provide some footnotes because he is right- the police are not paid to protect citizens, they are paid to protect the State. one example.

  14. Dennis,

    I think your understanding of the police departments “respoct to crime” is a little flawed. Their job is to be proactive in response to crime. The motto of the MPD is “To Protect With Courage; To Serve With Compassion.” How can we as citizens feel protected if all the police are doing is reacting to crime after it’s already happened? Why do we even have them then?

    In about 30 seconds of research on the MPD website I found this:

    “Community Crime Prevention/Safety For Everyone”

    “Each precinct is also served by several CCP/SAFE crime prevention specialists. They work with individual neighborhoods to reduce the fear of crime, improve community and police cooperation and improve the quality of life in Minneapolis neighborhoods.

    The crime prevention specialists provide educational materials and programs, develop working relationships with the community and assist residents in reducing the opportunity for crime and in solving problems in the community.”

    So from these few brief sentences I gathered that the police department does have at least one program for proactive crime prevention. The problem is telling us to stay off the Greenway is not a reasonable way to solve this problem in our community. The Greenway was built because there was a community need and request for a safe place for bicyclists to travel. Our police department needs to do a better job to protect them. Period.

    I don’t think we need a cop on every corner either but more bike patrols would be great start at proactive prevention. If I remember correctly millions of tax dollars were spent on training bike cops and buying them equipment for the RNC… so let’s put all of that money and training to use in a proactive way. I mean… we already have the tools, so let’s use them!

    “I haven’t seen any of those bicyclists you talk about coming forward to pay for their private grenways and full-time police protection.”

    The Greenways are public… and those bicyclists do pay for them and the police protection… it’s called TAXES!!

    I’m pretty much done for now. Another comment I had was Aaron said he was from Minneapolis, but lives in Japan. What made you think his father was mugged on a Japanese Greenway? It was pretty obvious that his father was mugged here…

    Oh and this little gem in response to Kohler”
    “My guess is your just some college kid with all the ideals propagandized into your lazy mind.”

    I laughed pretty hard at that one. How did you even get to this site? Did you look at it for more than two seconds? At the top there’s a bunch of pictures of the guy with his friends and wife and a big link that says “About Ed Kohler”

    Thanks for the afternoon chuckle, Dennis.


  15. Dennis, I’m sorry you have such reading comprehension problems. My father was mugged on the Minneapolis Greenway. I happen to live in Japan, where I actually feel safe 100% of the time.

    Sure, the police are reactive. But the problem here is that they are not reacting. They’re shirking their responsibilities to fight crime by ignoring the problem and passing the buck to the citizens. “Just avoid the Greenway” is not a solution. If everyone thought like you, the whole city would be one giant clusterfuck of crime and you’d be saying “If you can’t take care of yourself then that’s your problem.” We pay the police to take care of this, end of story.

    You may be an “old guy,” but that’s all you are. You’re not offering wisdom. You’re advocating willing victimhood. So yes, I reject your bullshit advice.

  16. The whole reason we have this thing called “government” is so that we can have this other thing called “civil society.”

    What’s civil society? It’s everything that goes on that is made possible by the fact that we don’t have to clutch our swords/maces/sidearms all the time for fear we are going to be killed by our fellow barbarians for our nice new tunics.

    How is this possible, that we can walk about without fear of being brained by anyone who happens to walk by? Well, it’s because the government holds a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. By reserving the right to use violence, the state creates a safe environment so we can have useful economic and public activity. Anyone who employs violence as a means to an end has violated the social contract and is at the mercy of the state’s “violence” (imprisonment, sanction, execution in some states).

    It then follows that residents within a state’s jurisdiction are not only entitled to protection from those who would violate the state’s monopoly on violence, but that in order for people to live their everyday lives, they must be able to assume that this is true! If a Minneapolis resident can’t be reasonably sure that he or she will be safe getting to work in the manner of their choosing, how can we expect them to be functional and productive members of society?

    How can we expect our civil society to work at all if we don’t have the government to produce an environment conducive to fostering trust among strangers, even in alleys and dark, sunken bike trails? We can’t.

    So how do we fix the problem? Put cops on bikes riding up and down the greenway so one passes by any given point every 15-30 minutes. They can stop and talk to anyone who seems to be loitering (potential muggers) and make their presence clear. Or put up cameras to catch people after the fact. Clear out the current issue, restore trust, make it clear violence on the Greenway will not be tolerated and it won’t return. If it does, repeat the stepped-up enforcement until we’re reasonably sure the government’s monopoly on the use of force has been effectively reasserted in the area.

  17. Pingback: Midtown Greenway Crime | east-lake.net

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