Wednesday, August 20, 2008

judgment pending for trail attack by purple line opponent

From the Gazette:
Isaac Hantman of Bethesda was fined $1,000 and sentenced to probation before judgment for one year on Aug. 1 after pleading guilty to assaulting a woman on the trail on April 24.

According to the statement of charges filed in Montgomery County District Court, Karen Hughes, 48, of Kensington, was walking her dog on a portion of the [Capital Crescent Trail] in Bethesda when she refused to move out of Hantman's way. He was biking toward her and called for her to move.

Hantman, 67, then got off his bike and argued with Hughes, who said she thought there was enough room for the bicycle to pass, according to the charging documents. The arguing allegedly included religious slurs . . .

Hughes tried to walk away, and Hantman allegedly jumped on her back and placed one arm around her head and another around her throat and applied pressure for approximately two to three minutes, according to the charging documents.
A board member of the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, Hantman has been a long-time opponent of the Purple Line, which may run along a portion of the popular trail running from Georgetown to Silver Spring. He is perhaps best known for his occasional letters to the Gazette criticizing the proposed transitway. We briefly met at a Purple Line open house last fall.


Thomas Hardman said...

This comes close to being an outright ridiculous case. However, it brings to light the ongoing conflicts between people who have totally differing views of "appropriate use" of public recreational facilities.

Indeed, this raises questions of how one defines "recreational facility". Is a fairly long trail connecting through a variety of neighborhoods to be considered more of a "recreational fixture" or an "alternative transit route"? In any case, cyclists need to keep reminding themselves that pedestrians always have the right of way in the State of Maryland. Yet pedestrians probably ought to keep in mind that being confrontational is also controlled by statute, and whether or not the assault is verbal or otherwise, "a person ought not to commit assault".

Trails and greenspace are thorny issues across MoCo in any case. Witness the debates over the Matthew Henson park trail and the nearby extension through the greenspace between Georgia Avenue and Layhill Road. A lot of the locals fought it tooth and nail and once it became clear that the trail was going to happen, did their best to make sure that the trail would be inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. This also didn't go over well and along most of the length of the trail, the paving is complete.

Much of the local opposition was due to their expectation of increased crime along the trail, a not entirely unreasonable expectation considering the crime rates along nearby Hewitt Avenue, which are high, compared with the crime rates in the neighborhoods on the other side of the greenspace, which are comparably quite low for this part of MoCo. Yet in the parts of Aspen Hill's residential neighborhoods along the length of the Rock Creek trail, there hasn't been a surge in crime until very recently, and that has nothing to do with the trail itself, but rather with the Aspen Hill Park, locally known as "Peary's Lower Field".

Dave Murphy said...

But the Purple Line will ruin the nature of the trail, and make it more dangerous...

Douglas A. Willinger said...

Dig a trench for the rail and cover it.

Why must so many be so one dimensional- aka cities long ago built upwards, but when it comes to right of way they are stunted...

..because being so is an excellent distraction from the pentagon-pentagram boondoggle.