Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stay alert, stay alive.

So, for the second time in a year, a cyclist has been ambushed on the Monon Trail, danger close to Roseholme Cottage.

This has me seething, mostly because mayor Greg Ballard is determined to keep the Monon Rail Trail as an official Victim Disarmament Zone. Thugs can carry whatever they want, but law-abiding citizens, who have paid a ton of tax money for this pleasant bicycling path, are officially defenseless by decree of city ordinance. I have become a single-issue voter on this: Get me, Greg; either you reach up between your legs and grab your ears and pull hard on the issue of lawfully-carried guns in parks, or you have completely lost me as a voter.

What can we learn from this?
  1. I don't use the Monon alone, as a general rule, even north of the 52nd Street DMZ. Local surface streets offer more room to maneuver should two or three thugs block your path.
  2. In both cases, the attack happened in a nice neighborhood, in broad daylight. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that it's a pretty day out. Don't get lost in your iPod or cell phone conversation to the exclusion of the outside world. It amazes me to see people walking around out of doors, lost in some electronic world of their own and oblivious to their surroundings.
  3. In both cases, the attack was launched more or less out of the blue. Urbanus strongarmus is an ambush predator. Your first warning that you are in a life-or-death struggle may come when your face hits the asphalt. How often do you practice drawing and engaging multiple targets from flat on your back?

Carry a gun. Practice getting to it from awkward positions. Stay aware of your surroundings. If something feels wrong, listen to your feelings and turn around and leave: You can recover quickly from embarrassment, but forty stitches in your mouth take a long time to heal,


ka said...

"Your first warning that you are in a life-or-death struggle may come when your face hits the asphalt."

That is the quote of the week!

tomcatshanger said...

I'm the only local bike rider I know that carries all the time, every time, trail or street riding.

When I'm so tired out that I'm only maintaining streerage speed on the trip back, how in the hell am I supposed to defend myself without the proper tools?

I haven't cause myself any harm from landing on it while riding single track, and the 30 doesn't weight enough to bug me.

I have NOT practiced near enough about drawing from the ground though, and I certainly need to.

Stranger said...

In more than forty years of collecting gun crime stats, one thing stands out. The most dangerous places are the ones that ban guns.

If Hizzoner wants the Monon Trail to be gun free - let the idiot and his buddies ride it. It will not take many muggings in that circle to change minds.

If you absolutely MUST go to a free fire zone, go in large groups with enough beef to make up for the absence of weaponry.


Spatchcock said...

Having recently purchased a bicycle for commuting and urban exploration, I was wondering if commenters who frequently carry while riding could comment on the configuration that works best for them.

Openly? Concealed, somehow, in spite of the heat. Style of holster?

Also, I take it Indiana doesn't offer state preemption of local laws. What are the consequences of ignoring the carry ban?

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

And the comments on the news site are sadly typical: calls for more cops, and for cameras and police call boxes. Only one commenter so far has even mentioned armed resistance.

People just don't get it.

Tam said...

When I'm on my bike, I carry in the same strong-side IWB holster I carry at other times.

"Also, I take it Indiana doesn't offer state preemption of local laws. What are the consequences of ignoring the carry ban?"

As best I can tell, Indiana's preemption law is odd, in that it excludes laws that existed prior to its passage.

Tam said...


"Only one commenter so far has even mentioned armed resistance."

I can guarantee that one or two perps getting caps busted in their asses would really put a chill on Monon muggings, but apparently that's too simple a solution for our betters in city hall.

Anonymous said...

I sense that we're getting closer to "shoot, shovel and shut up" than our betters will be comfortable with.

Anonymous said...

Concealed means concealed. Deal with problem #2 when you must...


gator said...

IRT #2: I was waiting at the railroad crossing the other day for an approaching train, and this dude with a portable jukebox damned near walked right into the path of the train. Mr. Engineer laid on the horn early and hard until he got Scooter's attention.

Firehand said...

When on the bicycle in hot weather I use a buttpack; keep my wallet and phone in it, too. Cooler weather I use either the IWB holster or a belt holster.

And I haven't tried much 'draw from on your back' either; I need to.

Hey, you've got idiots driving while texting(and why the hell the cops don't just use the 'careless or reckless driving' statutes, I don't know); you expect them to pay attention on a bike or walking? Used to wear a radio and earphones while walking, and stopped because if you're watching around you at all, you don't hear most of what's on anyway.

Anonymous said...

"Also, I take it Indiana doesn't offer state preemption of local laws. What are the consequences of ignoring the carry ban?"

Indiana does offer state preemption of local laws but cities may regulate their property. Monon Trail, south of 96th Street, is city property.

Ignoring the carry ban will get you an ordinance violation (fine only).

I carry in a Bianchi fannypack which is magic. My pistol disappears south of 96th Street, but reappears north of 96th.

Shootin' Buddy

Anonymous said...


Twice in two days you've turned personal anecdotes into potentially lifesaving lessons for others.

Situational awareness is or should be an automatic for those who carry (and those who don't) in today's world, but the burgeoning habit of going about our business whilst completely distracted by electronics of some type or another destroys the background concentration that it requires, and this bike path story brings that into focus well enough to change the habits of some and quite possibly even save their lives.

Less obvious to those who carry daily is the effect even a minor physical change or ailment could have on their ability to effectively do what they have to do if they ever have to do it. Your sidewalk crash (this from someone whose idea of contact with pavement while bike riding formerly involved crotchrockets, speed, and knees) forces others who might have similarly if reluctantly slowed down, to consider and practice alternate carry and access methods and could well save the life of one of your readers right here.

When my back does its occasional thing, I am aware of the pain and strain of placing and removing my old Cobra and its paddle from its place (4 o'clock of course) and yet never really took the time to consider how that could affect the outcome in a bad way if I needed the old girl's help in a hurry.

It's not every day that you find a little measure of enlightenment all wrapped up in a blanket of snarky and humorous entertainment. Except at VFTP. Thanks, Tamara.

Anonymous said...

If you couldn't tell from the long-windedness, sign that last one AT since I forgot to.

And I just realized both those posts were from today. This Alzheimer's stuff is a bitch.

staghounds said...

"If something feels wrong, listen to your feelings and turn around and leave."

How many times have I heard, "It didn't feel right, but I didn't pay any attention..."

The captcha is, ISYN, "depart".

Eric said...

As Mr. Suarez has said, "big boy rules."

Don Meaker said...

I remembered Tam's story about not shooting a fellow crab walking backwards, and started adding that to my dryfire targets.

Isn't there a part time peace officer designation that can be procured that would permit full time carry on the Monon?

Anonymous said...


Not sure if there are local laws against it, and pretty sure you don't want or need the visibility, but it might be interesting for you to start your own little weekly 'broadsheet' to publicize the Monon Trail situation, and the 2nd Amendment solution, ala Thomas Paine's pamphlet 'Common Sense' during the revolution. If it's a one-pager (8.5 x 11 or maybe even a full 11 x 17) it could be easily distributable by hand, via newspaper boxes, from the countertops of sympathetic businesses, and any other method of distribution that won't get you busted for littering.

Filling up an 11 x 17 page (one side) once a week would be pretty tough and take a lot of time though - maybe smaller would be better.


MikeAT said...


A few years ago Texas liberalized it’s gun carry law. Until then you needed a Concealed Carry Permit to have a pistol in your car. Well that got changed so you can carry in the car as long as it’s concealed (e.g. in glove compartment)

One of my buddies at roll call was a little upset because there would be more guns out there. I told him the bad guys already got their guns..that’s why there are called “bad guys”.

Lissa said...

Urbanus strongarmus? Is that related to Sumdood?

Tam said...


Kind of. They're the ones that Sumdood tells to go bust somebody up, but when they get caught, Sumdood is never around.

"Whose idea was it to mug that old man?"

"I dunno. Sumdood's, I guess."

PA State Cop said...

US Cavalry Heavy Sabre?

PA State Cop said...

Or a Patton Sabre?

John said...

A 'hit' on your bike can do more than just lay you out. There's a reasonable possibility of being stunned, by the landing impact. That does happen occasionally, so it's something to consider in tactical planning, tho not sure how to train for having y'r awareness reduced to "test pattern".

At any rate, you're mebbe going to be hurting to some degree or another in such an incident. I don't know that one can practice by having someone smack you with a shovel while you try to draw, tangled up with a bike, possibly lying on y'r gun and numb-with-pain gun arm.

Heck, a little kid can poke a stick in y'r wheel and the 'weight' can finish the sack. Bike stealing is big inner city sport for juvies. In Toledo a few years ago, one of the long-time local bikie advocates was killed by a punch and head-on-a-curb landing, during such an attempt by a 'child'. The helmet didn't 'protect', either.

Tam, if you can arrange at least one partner for y'r rides, even if it means networking with the bike-bunch thru a local bike shop bulletin board, you may cease to be in the 'visually prospective prey' category.

As for my thots about 'the tactical situation': they are not criminal friendly or publishable. One could start thinking of the bike path as the "Molon Labe Trail", I suppose.

But, normally thugs really don't want to work too hard, or with much risk. Why not network-up your own loose association of CCW bikers, and form A GANG?

Personally,I'm terrified of seeing twenty or thirty Tour De France wanna-be's tearing up the country roads and small town intersections. I believe the intimidation factor is due to the appearance projected by guys with shaved legs and expensive flashy outfits, wearing those menacing aerodynamic helmets.

Well, OK...mebbe not. But unlike a flock of unarmed sheep, a pair of armed bikers seem to me, to be a rationally better bet as appearing indigestible to a predator[s]. Because, in fact, they are. Armed and aggressive body language is readily recognizable to a street predator, enough so that 'wrong choice' is readable by his lower brain stem.

Still and all, cavalry sabers, lances, spiked flails, wrist-mounted mini-crossbows, and a full set of hockey pads painted bright red with a horned Viking helmet certainly appear to be legitimate riding gear when speeding up Ye Olde Bike Trail.


Will said...

" A 'hit' on your bike can do more than just lay you out. There's a reasonable possibility of being stunned, by the landing impact. "

Reminds me of a bicycle crash near the house about 25 yrs ago. Teen girl got her purse? sucked into her front wheel, and did an endo. Boyfriend tried to get her on her feet, but she hit the ground again. Had to call for an ambo to cart her away.
I've seen a video of a cop shoving a guy off a bike as he pedaled past at a good clip. Not a good maneuverer to use to avoid someone, from the results. (it was a SF bicycle day ride, cop should have been charged with assault)