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Thread: Safely crossing Rock Creek Park at night (Petworth/Cleveland Park)

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    Default Safely crossing Rock Creek Park at night (Petworth/Cleveland Park)

    I'm a bike courier as a side gig and occasionally get delivery requests on the other side of Rock Creek Park from my Petworth apartment. I tried the Google-recommended route (via Park Road and Tilden Street) last night and turned back halfway in. I'm more fearless than most, but I'm also an unaccompanied mid-twenties woman, and taking an unlit, isolated road through a park that feels more like wilderness crossed some sort of line. So I'm curious: Is there another crossing within reasonable distance that feels less like a rape-and-murder hunting ground, or should I reconcile myself to staying east of the park outside peak daylight hours unless I detour through Adams Morgan?
    Last edited by brutal_youth; 05-21-2015 at 11:10 AM.

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    I have often taken that route. I'm not quite sure why it felt so dangerous to you. I never got that vibe, but everyone is entitled to their own vibe. If it makes you feel any better, on the North side of Park Road a big chunk of what you think is Rock Creek Park is actually the Rockefeller Estate, which is fenced, heavily patrolled and swept continuously by video cameras. On the south side, it's got tennis courts and much of the rest is basically a ridge wedged in between Beach Drive and Park. On the west side, you are in a very, very expensive residential neighborhood, not that this settles the matter, but it tends to help.

    I'm not telling you that you should feel safe, if you don't. I would suggest that what feels unsafe, may in truth not be.

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    Have you tried Park to Klingle and up Porter? Klingle isn't the greatest but once you get to Porter you're surrounded by apartments. I've never done it at night, though, so I can't comment on what it's like then.

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    Artist's rendering.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Crickey7; 05-21-2015 at 11:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crickey7 View Post
    I have often taken that route. I'm not quite sure why it felt so dangerous to you. I never got that vibe, but everyone is entitled to their own vibe. If it makes you feel any better, on the North side of Park Road a big chunk of what you think is Rock Creek Park is actually the Rockefeller Estate, which is fenced, heavily patrolled and swept continuously by video cameras. On the south side, it's got tennis courts and much of the rest is basically a ridge wedged in between Beach Drive and Park. On the west side, you are in a very, very expensive residential neighborhood, not that this settles the matter, but it tends to help.

    I'm not telling you that you should feel safe, if you don't. I would suggest that what feels unsafe, may in truth not be.
    That does help to know, and I appreciate the perspective. I had no trouble with the route until the part of Park Road that's completely without lighting, so you're in effect biking alone into pitch blackness with just the occasional car speeding through. I didn't make it far enough in to know how long a segment that is or what is on the other side of it, but I'll go again during the day to get a better sense.

    Edit: I freely admit the "safety" of street lighting may be illusory more than actual, but there was something viscerally uncomfortable about suddenly losing it with no indication when it might come back.
    Last edited by brutal_youth; 05-21-2015 at 11:57 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brutal_youth View Post
    That does help to know, and I appreciate the perspective. I had no trouble with the route until the part of Park Road that's completely without lighting, so you're in effect biking alone into pitch blackness with just the occasional car speeding through. I didn't make it far enough in to know how long a segment that is or what is on the other side of it, but I'll go again during the day to get a better sense.

    Edit: I freely admit the "safety" of street lighting may be illusory more than actual, but there was something viscerally uncomfortable about suddenly losing it with no indication when it might come back.
    Sounds like you maybe need more light on the bike. If you get a helmet mounted one you can use a fairly wide beam to illuminate wherever you are looking, but still easily turn it away from traffic.

    We've had discussions before on this forum on the difference between "be seen" and "to see" lights. In the city you typically want "be seen" lights, but in the country and maybe in RCP you need "to see" lights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    Sounds like you maybe need more light on the bike. If you get a helmet mounted one you can use a fairly wide beam to illuminate wherever you are looking, but still easily turn it away from traffic.

    We've had discussions before on this forum on the difference between "be seen" and "to see" lights. In the city you typically want "be seen" lights, but in the country and maybe in RCP you need "to see" lights.
    That's a helpful distinction and makes sense. Good idea about the helmet-mounted light; I'll have to pick one up.
    Last edited by brutal_youth; 05-21-2015 at 02:40 PM.

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    You might also want to check out the route during the day if you haven't already, so you're familiar with it. I find that riding in an unfamiliar place in the dark is much scarier than if you've been there before in the daylight. The first time I rode through Lyndon Johnson Grove on Columbia Island (trying to find a way from the 14th St. bridge to Columbia Pike) I was really freaked out because I had never been there before and it was pitch dark and deserted. When I saw the place in the daytime, I couldn't believe I had found it so scary.

    I also rode the Rock Creek Trail for the first time on a deserted winter night and I thought it was pretty creepy. But I'm comfortable with my regular route on the MVT (trollheim boardwalk) even though I'm sure it is equally creepy in the dark to someone unfamiliar with it.

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    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    I actually found the Johnson Grove somewhat creepy in the daytime. I rode through there a couple years ago in the late afternoon, maybe 4 or 5 pm. There were several men just wandering around slowly, following the outline of the circle in the grove. Some of them looked very uncomfortable, as if they were out in the middle of the desert. And yet, they continued to pace around the circle slowly. Very odd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PotomacCyclist View Post
    I actually found the Johnson Grove somewhat creepy in the daytime. I rode through there a couple years ago in the late afternoon, maybe 4 or 5 pm. There were several men just wandering around slowly, following the outline of the circle in the grove. Some of them looked very uncomfortable, as if they were out in the middle of the desert. And yet, they continued to pace around the circle slowly. Very odd.
    LBJ Grove is a known "pick-up" spot for men. I would guess that may have been the activity you were witnessing.

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