Perception vs. Reality. Well-publicized reports of a few violent assaults on the trail in recent years stirred up wariness of isolated sections. Indy’s 2012 Uniform Crime Data shows that incidents are rare compared to the Monon’s traffic (an average of 54,855 users each month in Indy) and aren’t concentrated in the most-feared southern section. Last year saw one confirmed violent assault, at 21st Street at 12:30 p.m.; a non-armed robbery, at 90th Street around 11 p.m.; and seven thefts. Over the last three years, 25 of the 31 reported Monon crimes in Indianapolis occurred north of 54th Street. Westfield’s only police report in 2012 came from a good Samaritan who found a cell phone. Carmel’s data was unavailable at press time.
The Real Dangers. According to local public-safety experts, crossing the street at trail intersections is a common risk. (Cars must stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.) And last year, vehicle break-ins at trailhead parking lots outnumbered assaults and robberies on the trail. The 75th Street lot is a hotspot.
The Patrol. The city’s 15 park rangers split their time between the Monon and more than 200 other parks and greenways. IMPD officers back them up every day. “I probably complete two laps [between 38th and 86th streets], and I’m not there the same time every day, or it would be predictable,” says officer John Wall, who usually patrols by bike in warm weather. IMPD has beefed up its watch for the season with horseback patrols, plainclothes officers, and personnel from other districts. Now, Wall says, at least three officers cover Indy’s section of the trail at any given time.
Safety Tips. Wear only one earbud for better awareness of your surroundings. Take a cell phone with 911 programmed as a contact, and if someone makes you uneasy, be ready to speed-dial 911 if necessary. Lock your car, and don’t leave valuables inside. Use the trail only during official hours.
Photo by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the June 2013 issue.