this is an email i sent earlier today to the teacher / mod of tonight’s #bikeschool tweetchat – this doesn’t give all the issues or details i’m dealing with, but it’s the thrust of the problem. posted here for background for the #bikeschool crew.
Long story to a short question:
I bought a great road bike (2004 Klein Aura V) back in November with several intentions, the main one being commuting the 7.5 miles from home to the high school I teach at here in Pensacola.
After 6 weeks of commuting (and loving it) I come to find out that I’m being targeted by a local gang that several students in my school belong to. A teacher at the school next to mine was severely beaten, bike destroyed, money, laptop, etc. stolen 2 years ago and left for dead in this neighborhood during his morning commute.
The problem: to go around this neighborhood makes it a 14 mile ride (one way) and takes me through an even worse neighborhood to the south. To the north is I-10. This neighborhood is bottlenecked through this gang’s territory and there’s no way around it.
I’ve searched high and low for sites with info on how to physically protect yourself while riding, but have found little to nothing on the situation I’m facing.
My wife, the school-based gang expert, the school-based sheriff’s deputies, and my vice-principal are all telling me not to ride to work. The teacher who was beaten two years ago says he’ll never ride to work again through that neighborhood. The guys at my local bike shop say a) carry a gun (no thanks) b) carry a knife (again, no) c) get pepper spray d) ride really fast and stop for nothing. (I should mention that being a high school teacher, it’s illegal for me to have a gun, knife, or pepper spray on my person on school property).
Dude – is there a solution to this problem that doesn’t involve not riding the bike to work?
Seriously, this has been breaking my heart.