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News Maryland Baltimore Crime Beat

Bicyclist says he caught Guilford Avenue attack on video

A cyclist heading to meet friends Saturday evening said he was attacked by a group of people north of downtown Baltimore, an incident he said he caught on video.

Michael Bowman said he was surrounded by the group as he crossed an intersection on Guilford Avenue in Station North. The attack, he said, was "was totally without warning."

"Its a long hill, and by the time you get to the top, you're tired and moving slowly," Bowman said. "Easy prey."

Bowman posted the video, taken on a helmet-mounted camera, to YouTube, leading cyclists around the city to recount on social media similar experiences they had in the area.

A number of riders said they felt forced to choose between chancing it in traffic on North Calvert and St. Paul streets or potentially becoming a victim of crime on Guilford Avenue.

The cycling organization Bikemore said on its blog that it hoped to work with police to improve safety along the corridor, which is a marked cycle route.

"Bikemore is actively engaging with the police and community leaders to ensure the neighborhoods along the Guilford Avenue Bike Boulevard are safe for commuters and residents alike," wrote Chris Merriam, the group's executive director.

A police spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The point-of-view video appears to show a group of people closing in, then throwing punches before the camera cuts out. Those blows might have landed on Bowman's helmet, he wrote on YouTube, and said he only suffered an injury to his thumb.

"On the ground I started yelling 'help help help,' " Bowman wrote. "Residents started coming out and a distant siren scared them off. Called 911 after and met with an officer a few minutes later."

Bowman said he bought a cheap camera after a friend was involved in a hit-and-run. He regularly films his commute and rides at night. He filed a formal report about the incident with police Monday.

The incident involving Bowman came a year to the day after another cyclist said he was attacked in the same block. Mark R. Brown wrote on his blog that a group of teenagers tried to steal his bike but were scared off by some other people who were nearby.

Despite having read other accounts of attacks, Brown wrote that he was unprepared.

"I thought I'd just outrun the attackers," he wrote. "Wrong. Unless you're going downhill or already have some major speed, they will block your escape routes and grab any part of your bike or clothing to try to bring you down."

Another blogger described a similar situation and said he evaded a group by cycling full-speed toward oncoming traffic and escaped unharmed.

iduncan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/iduncan

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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