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Lawlessness inside DC Union Station

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John Walker from Little Orleans on 4/26/2023 5:01:58 PM:
As previously posted, my Niece completed the towpath last Monday. While waiting to catch Amtrak's Capital Limited at Union Station, she had to fend off two separate attempts by vagrants to seal her bicycle. Again, no visible Amtrak/Metro DC Police presence. It was fortunate that she was able to fend off the attackers without the use of physical force. It used to be relatively safe to patronize Union Station in Washington DC but it appears that it too has degraded into utter lawlessness so cyclist beware. Travel in groups and don't leave anything unattended.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 4/26/2023 7:00:24 PM:
Just what I needed to hear as I leave for DC via train in a few days. I've been contemplating getting some pepper spray for stray dogs during my later ride through rural countryside but I guess I could use it at the train station and other places as well, if necessary.

Was the other incident at the MP0 marker behind Thompson's Boathouse?

John Walker from Little Orleans, MD on 4/26/2023 8:35:51 PM:
Yes, she was trying to get to Mike Marker Zero at the boat house landed when she was attacked.

FYI, be very careful about defending yourself. The criminals are being set free while law abiding citizens are being prosecuted for the crime of self defense. Go figure.

Wayne L from Penetanguishene Canada on 5/14/2023 10:10:07 AM:
My wife and I are planning to ride from DC to Pittsburg in June. We are planning a day outing in Washington the day before we start. I wanted to start at Mile Marker 0 but after reading about the homeless problems and lawlessness in that area I am seriously considering not starting there. Maybe more police presence would solve this problem.

JM from OBX on 5/14/2023 9:56:44 PM:
I think you’ll be fine in that area. Yes, DC has crime issues just like any other large metropolitan area, but they tend to be random and not specific to Georgetown. Don’t let anecdotal stories interfere with your plans. Use good judgment and be aware of your surroundings, and enjoy your ride up to Pittsburgh.

John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 5/15/2023 12:03:45 PM:
The most dangerous thing at Mile 0 is making sure to steer clear of the rowing crew members when they’re hauling their boats between the dock and the Thompson Boat House! I’ve never seen homeless there on my many GAP/C&O trips there. This is not to say that no homeless person has ever ventured down there but this is not a regular homeless location.

As JM says, use the same judgement you would in any large city.

Enjoy the pre ride around the city, it’s a great cycling city, and enjoy your GAP/C&O trip!


Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 5/17/2023 11:14:30 PM:
I travelled through DC’s Union Station a week ago and did not encounter or see any issues inside the station. However, I was more vigilant than in the past and carried some pepper spray for the first time based on the earlier post.

Wayne L from Penetanguishene Canada on 5/21/2023 9:52:35 AM:
Thanks for the info. I’ve never had a problem cycling in the US and I don’t expect that to change.

crime from Rutherfordton NC on 2/20/2024 12:02:58 PM:
I am planning to hike alone on the GAP. Several people have told me to stop short of Pittsburgh because Homestead and McKeesport are very high crime areas, i.e. "14 people shot in McKeesport last weekend" is there any validity to these warnings.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 2/20/2024 3:10:11 PM:
In full transparency, I live in Homestead PA and ride/have ridden the GAP trail to and through Pittsburgh and McKeesport via Homestead multiple times a week for the last 10 years. Homestead and McKeesport were both vibrant, middle class communities during the heydays of the steel industry but began a period of steady decline when the mills here closed. While it is true that these towns have gained a reputation for a higher than average crime rate in metropolitan Pittsburgh, the GAP Trail itself does not pass directly through the portions of the towns where crimes there generally occur.

Incidents along the trail itself are rare. Further, and especially during the warmer touring season, there is a fairly steady flow of both cyclist and walker traffic on these trail sections offering a sense of vigilance and security with low risk.

If I were hiking and not familiar with the area, I would be most cautious in the last several blocks entering/leaving downtown Pittsburgh or across the Monongahela River in the Southside section of town though which the GAP and its alternate route into Pittsburgh travel. There are a handful of homeless encampments along the trails there. While it is not uncommon to see residents of these encampments I have never felt any risk of being accosted nor have I encountered any issues riding through these sections entering town. Further I, myself, have not heard of any incidents with cyclists or hikers.

That said, others may have a different opinions and experiences and, hopefully, they will provide their insight as well.

Cathy from Churchill from Churchill, PA on 2/22/2024 10:36:27 PM:
I live in the region and watch the news every night. I don't know what the person was referring to, regarding 14 shootings in one weekend. There are shootings throughout this region, like other cities around the country, but I don't think there were that many in McKeesport or any individual municipality in the Pittsburgh region, in a week, much less a weekend. It is tragic what is happening across the country, the horrible senseless killings. But I think that report is not accurate. I'm glad you are on this forum asking your quetsion. As someone else pointed out, the areas where shootings occur are not along the GAP Trail.

I've biked these areas many time and do not worry about crime. I am vigilant, I carry mace or pepper spray, not sure which it is. But I originally purchased that to deal with stray dogs on the Katy Trail in Missouri, which I used to ride on a lot when living there. I've never used it or even felt inclined to use it on a person. A couple of dogs, but not people.

Some areas you will pass in McKeesport do go by low income housing, but I see children outside playing, riding bikes, people casually walking in the area, people are friendly and I've never considered it a dangerous area.

I love the GAP trail from McKeesport to Homestead. You'll pass buildings from the industrial era that have been repurposed, go along the Monongahela River, go across a wonderful bridge across the river, you'll pass below Kennywood, and one of their roller coasters. It's a wonderful part of the trail. At Homestead you'll go by the Pump House and Water Tower. Stop and read about the historic battle between steel workers trying to unionize and the Pinkertons brought in by Henry Clay Frik to break the effort.

And then after Homestead you go past Sandcastle and an eagle nest viewing area. Bring your binoculars and try to spot the eagles. You'll go by the Steelers training facility, interesting pieces of equipment from Steel era, you'll go over the Hot Metal Bridge. There's so much to see.

By the way I'm in my early 70s. I see many people my age on the GAP trail in this region. I think the consensus is that it is safe.