Schuylkill River Trail improvements bring extra eyes

- One of the great jewels of Center City is the jogging and biking trail that hugs the Schuylkill River.

But a series of violent attacks and sexual assaults along the trail has lots of users frightened. But, the city is taking a series of steps to make things safer. 

On a sunny autumn day, the Schuylkill River Trail through Center City Philadelphia is buzzing with activity.

But when the sun goes down, these crowds disappear.

"I've been hearing the stories about the kids on the bikes and attacking females," said jogger Alicia White, in explaining why she does not use the trail at night.

A half dozen physical or sexual assaults over the past two years have spurred city officials to act.

First, they repaired and replaced the lighting along the trail to make it more reliable. Then, they installed clearer mile markers, so crime victims could more easily report their location. And now, crews are installing 21 security cameras along the trail, to better keep an eye on things.

The price tag of $150,000 is being covered by the city council president's office and that of district councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

"If you're outside enjoying yourself in any public space in the city of Philadelphia that you should feel safe," said Johnson.

Complete camera installation will take about two weeks, according to Johnson. And they will not be monitored in real time but can quickly be reviewed for evidence of a crime and can be used ahead of any trouble.

"The police officers can also use the footage in reviewing who is actually hanging out on the trail on a day-to-day basis and if they are up to no good," said Johnson.

Joggers Fox 29 talked to had mixed feelings about these extra sets of eyes.

"That's good," said jogger Madeline Perry. "Especially when it gets darker through the winter, at night, it would be -- feel a bit safer for a female on her own."

But Aubrey Nowrey, whom Fox 29 talked to as she walked her dog, seemed less anxious to be under the camera's gaze.

"The idea of being filmed all the time...like, I don't know! Everybody's watching...Big Brother! You know what I mean?”

 

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