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Trail Reporter keeping tabs on violent crime along Schuylkill River Trail

Software Developer Jonathan Bringhurst considers himself a new cyclist. He purchased a road bike several months ago to trek from his home in Manayunk along a 10-mile stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail to work, he says. Yet his inexperience hasn’t stopped him from becoming an active part of the biking community. For what he […]

trailreporterSoftware Developer Jonathan Bringhurst considers himself a new cyclist.
He purchased a road bike several months ago to trek from his home in Manayunk along a 10-mile stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail to work, he says.
Yet his inexperience hasn’t stopped him from becoming an active part of the biking community. For what he lacks in biking mechanical know-how he makes up for in coding expertise.
He’s helping keep an eye on an apparently dangerous ride along the Schuykill with a no-frills incident report Web app he calls Trail Reporter.

Users can report problems on the route with simple, location-based Google Maps information and a description of the time, day and specific circumstance. The site is built on Django.
The new application debuted two weeks after a June 10 of the Montgomery County Cycling Committee, where 50 cyclists and representatives of several local police agencies met to discuss recent violence on the trail.
Bicycle enthusiast Brenda Miller was riding alone on a section of the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown when she was assaulted by a half-dozen violent youths who formed a wall on the trail in front of her and punched her as she tried to penetrate past them, the Inquirer reported last month.
Bringhurst proposed creating the web application for incidents that didn’t quite qualify for police intervention, a way to archive the trail’s history. In seemingly no time at all, Bringhurst had created a working prototype and launched it in late June.
Now, the site is linked to by the Montgomery County Cycling Committee and the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia and receives a handful of hits per day. Incidents are increasingly popping up on the site. Last Monday for example, a user reported a fishing line was strung across the bike trail and a young, amateur videographer seen waiting for victims nearby.
Bringhurst says he hopes to expand the concept to other trails, but for now, he’s concentrating on the Schuylkill.

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