Please BE KIND to Cyclists organization, odds are you instantly think of cycling safety among vehicles and the people who drive them. But if you're Scott Rust, it is bike safety from gangs that worries you most.
This past November, Scott bought himself a road bike with the intention of using it to commute the 7.5 miles between his home and the high school in which he works. After 6 weeks of loving the commute, he found out that he was being targeted by a local gang that several of the students in his school belonged to.
Two years ago a teacher at the school next to his was severely beaten, bike destroyed, and his money and laptop stolen. This teacher had been left for dead during his morning commute.
Scott isn't about to give up on his dream of commuting by bike and has looked into his options. The problem lies in the fact that the only other route for him to take is a 14 mile ride that takes him through an even worse neighborhood than he is presently commutting through. This alternate choice is bottlenecked through gang territory and there is no way around it.
Desperate to figure out a way to continue riding to work and keep himself safe, he's turned to just about everyone he can find who'll listen. He's searched websites, asked friends, and just recently brought the question to #bikeschool for some answers.
He has been told by his wife, the school-based gang expert, the school-based sheriff's deputies, and his school vice-principal to stop riding to work. He's talked to the teacher who was severely beaten two years ago and he's told him that he'll never ride to work again. Other responses have been "carry a gun", "carry a knife", and "get pepper spray" to which Scott say's "no thanks". He is not about to fight violence with weapons (and besides, it would be illegal for him to carry such items and have them on school property).
So what does he do? Last week's #bikeschool provided a bunch of suggestions and we'll see if any of them are able to deliver what Scott needs to maintain his safety.
If any of you have a suggestion for him, we all would welcome your comments. We're all in this together, and we'll always do whatever we can to help support and protect our fellow riders.