While it is true—as this Sunday editorial from the Sacramento Bee reports—that good use drives out bad, what is not noted is that local public leadership has allowed a large concentration of illegal homeless camping and supportive domestic services in the Lower Reach area of the Parkway (Discovery Park to Cal Expo) and adjacent neighborhoods, that has helped create and sustain the crimogenic environment that ensures crimes against Parkway users will continue.
It is our position, posted on our website, that until the Parkway is independently managed by a nonprofit organization—created and overseen by a Joint Powers Authority of Parkway adjacent governments—able to raise substantial supplemental funding philanthropically, supporting increased public safety funding, the situation will continue to degrade.
Our annual report from last year—pgs. 37-38—recounts media reported crimes over a twelve month period in 2007-2008.
And from five years ago, this 2004 Sacramento News & Review article, reveals the longevity and toxicity of the crime problem in the Lower Reach.
An excerpt from the 2004 Sacramento News & Review article.
“Encompassing 32 miles from downtown Sacramento snaking east into Folsom, the American River Bike Trail is a regional jewel of recreation and outdoor splendor. But some enthusiasts point to a discomfiting trend of incidents--including muggings, vehicle burglaries and assaults--that suggest public safety on the trail is sorely lacking. Those trail users argue that a combination of understaffed park rangers and law-enforcement agencies can make an everyday outing turn ugly.
“Lloyd Billingsley, who has eluded two attempted muggings while riding on the trail, said he saw a sheriff’s deputy with an M-16 on July 4, while riding between Watt Avenue and Goethe Park.
“He’s sort of ready to rock and roll with this thing. I stopped and asked what was going on,” Billingsley said. “He said someone was out there shooting off a gun. But I talked to some people at the park, and they said there have been four people robbing bike riders.”
“Between May 10 and June 30  this year, there were six robberies, assaults or combinations of the two reported on the trail in the Northgate and Del Paso Heights areas. In one incident, the victim was stabbed before the assailant took money; in two, the assailants pointed a gun or what appeared to be a firearm; and in another, a victim was hit with a stick.
“According to reports filed by the Sacramento Police Department, in all cases, the suspect descriptions were different, as was the method of operation.
“In addition to those, since 2002, there have been 11 other reported cases of assault or battery on the trail, two robberies, one rape and one attempted rape. In one case, a bicyclist was seriously injured after riding into a head-high length of what may have been fishing line strung across the path.”
An excerpt from the 2009 Sacramento Bee editorial.
“Two recent incidents on the American River Parkway trail have been chilling to anyone who bikes on the section of the trail near downtown.
“Last month, a 64-year-old man riding in the afternoon was brought down by an assailant who threw another bike in his path, then began hitting him with a pole. The victim suffered a broken hip from the fall but no other serious injuries. He scared off the attacker by telling him that a police friend of his was riding a short distance behind.
“Then, last week, a 36-year-old man riding in the same area was confronted by a person who cursed at him, then hit him on the head, possibly with a stick. The cyclist managed to stay on his bike and escape.
“Police arrested suspects in both cases: a 14-year-old boy from nearby Del Paso Heights in the first assault and a 24-year-old homeless man in last week's attack.”