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Residents trying to organize group rides after latest Durham trail attack

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TWC News: Residents trying to organize group rides after latest Durham trail attack
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DURHAM-- There are new safety efforts by citizens who use the American Tobacco Trail in Durham after another person was attacked on the trail Monday.

This latest attack brings the total number of incidents on the trail to 13.

Police said the incident occurred in broad daylight near Fayetteville Road and Woodcroft Parkway.

Some residents are trying to use strength in numbers to keep joggers and bikers safe.

Residents are trying to organize joggers and bikers to use the American Tobacco Trail in groups after recent attacks on the trail.

For co-workers Debbie West and Dennis Markatos-Soriano, the American Tobacco Trail is like a second home.

"We love biking the American Tobacco Trail and all the other systems throughout the region," said Markatos-Soriano.

"I ride with the attitude of, 'this is my trail, this is everybody's trail.' I'm safe here. We're all community; this belongs to all of us," said West.

Safety has been a concern along the trail in the last couple of months.

To keep safe, Debbie is trying to get people to bike in groups on Mondays and Wednesdays.

"The more people on the trail, the safer it is for everyone," said West.

While residents try to form groups of joggers and bikers to use the trail together, the police department is also looking at forming a group of volunteers to monitor the trail.

"I passed three gentleman and they were all dressed in shirts and ties and things like that, and the one had a badge on," said jogger Jean Adams.

Since the attacks, the Durham Police Department has added more than 400 patrols on the trail including nearly 300 during the month of September. Foot and bicycle patrols and the use of three utility terrain vehicles have also been added to the trail.

Authorities are urging residents to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions such as not walking alone at night and carrying a personal alarm.

As police continue to investigate the trail incidents, bikers and joggers hope traveling in packs might help stop them.

"We're not trying to be the police; we're not doing anything. We're not trying to solve crime; we're just trying to help. The more people on the trail, the safer it is for everybody, and that's what we're doing."

In addition to increased patrols on the trail the Durham, police is planning to form a volunteer citizen's group to monitor the trail.

City officials are planning a meeting next week for those interested in volunteering.

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