The Metropolitan Branch Trail is in the shadow of Metro’s Red Line and runs through a thicket of blighted buildings and urban industry. It’s a cyclist’s dream route out of town and a place to run without having to watch out for vehicles.
The trail takes cyclists from downtown D.C. all the way to Silver Spring. They are out of sight at times and free of danger from vehicular traffic. But it’s not necessarily safe.
In May and June, a rash of hold-ups raised concern about the trail. Police stepped up patrols in the area and made an arrest. It looked like the intense effort paid off.
Then, in the past few days, two more victims were robbed. In one incident, the suspect brandished a gun.
There is, however, some help for trail users. The Guardian Angels have begun patrolling in the area about three hours a day.
Yet some people who take the trial are still cautious.
“I probably won’t be riding this trail at night,” said Elise Young, a regular user. “I definitely won’t be using it at night.”