The Midtown Greenway Coalition has started a safety patrol in response to incidents of crime happening along the greenway. The Midtown Greenway Safety Patrol meets several times a week, and teams bike along the Greenway, notifying authorities if anything suspicious happens.
Mark Ambroe, a Powderhorn resident who works at the Freewheel Bike shop, said that as a concerned user of the trail, he began talks with Nate Kerr, a community organizer for the Coalition, about setting up a safety patrol for quite some time.
Tim Springer, the executive director of the Coalition, said one of the reasons they decided to take on the patrol was that “it seemed that, to supplement police efforts, it would make sense to have citizen participation as well.” Currently, Springer said the police don’t generally bike along the greenway, although they do drive along it.
“This is mostly about community building,” Springer said. “People who go on rides know each other. It’s a way to feel and be safer.”
“We’re trying to recruit critical mass,” Ambroe said, meaning he hopes to get enough volunteers for frequent patrols. “At the very least, more eyes on the Greenway is going to go a long way to making commuters feel safe.”
Once the volunteers meet for a ride, they divide in groups of no fewer than three riders (Ambroe said an ideal group would have at least five or six riders), and bike along the trail, calling the police if they witness any suspicious behavior.
“ It’s very important for volunteers to know we are not responding, we are just reporting. We are careful to stay away from something suspicious.” Ambroe made it clear that all the patrol does is make calls, and don’t try to intervene at all if they see a crime. “We got our cell phones. That’s all we got.”
Already, the patrol has reported one incident on the trail. “We were able to respond to someone who was mugged on his way home from the grocery store,” Ambroe said. “The safety patrol was able to assist that person and talk to police. Those are the kind of incidents that we want to prevent. In a very safe way.”
Video by Jane Biliter, an intern at the TC Daily Planet.
Ambroe said they’ve already had a few rides, but the turnout has been less than he hoped for. Right now the patrol meets three times a week, but Ambroe said he hopes that the program will grow so that they can increase that to five days a week. To increase volunteers, Ambroe has been trying to get the word out. The coalition included information about the program in their newsletter and Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff has agreed to solicit volunteers through his monthly newsletter. Tim Springer said that if the Coalition is able to raise more funds for the program, he’d like to put resources into a volunteer recruitment.
Ambroe said that the patrol also received a donation of flashing red armbands from Kevin Ishaug, the owner of Freewheel Bikes. In addition, the Coalition was able to change its insurance care plan to cover the patrol, which Ambroe said was a great relief.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis theater artist and freelance writer. Email email@example.com
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