A section of the Schuylkill River Trail where a bicyclist was robbed and shot is the focus of a new safety project.
The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area wants to install a camera system and to repair trail lights in what is now called the Reading Gateway Section, a half-mile stretch of the trail from the Old Wyomissing Road intersection to the trail bridge over the Schuylkill River.
The trail crosses a triangle-shaped piece of Cumru Township, which is where the crime occurred, though the rest of the township is miles away.
The organization is asking for the community’s help to raise $70,000 to revive the area.
"The Reading Gateway Section has been an area of concern for some time," Miica Patterson, Schuylkill River Greenways communications director, said in an email. "This particular trail section has decreased visibility views and several maintenance needs. The area also currently has decreased viability and SRG continues to work toward a completed trail that is inviting and welcoming."
The Reading Gateway Initiative will also complete several maintenance activities with the help of volunteers such as removing trash, clearing the area of vegetation and installing new signs.
Improving the trail, opening up views and installing cameras will make the trail more inviting and safer, Schuylkill River Greenways said in a news release.
The gateway section is also referred to as the Craig Link Section. Named for Dr. Paul C. Craig and his wife, Catherine Palmer Craig, it is an important connection for the trail and was made possible by donations of the Craig family, the William Penn Foundation and the Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley.
"The Schuylkill River Trail is a well-loved and well-used public trail and we’re asking the community to help us with this very important revitalization project," Schuylkill River Greenways Executive Director Elaine Paul Schaefer said in a news release.
"The Reading Gateway Section needs several key improvements, all of which require time and money," Schaefer said. "We are calling on all trail community members able to give their time to join us in volunteering. In addition, we are asking for donations — large or small, it all helps — toward this initiative.”
A virtual kickoff meeting for the plan is scheduled for Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. to go over project goals and explain how the community can help.
A volunteer day is planned along the trail on March 27.
To join the kickoff, get more information or visit schuylkillriver.org/reading-gateway-initiative.
A Reading bicyclist was shot Dec. 29 in the afternoon during an attempted robbery on the trail, Cumru police reported.
The 42-year-old man was shot in the abdomen and broke a leg in the incident, which was captured on video by security cameras of a nearby business. The assailants are still at large.
Police said the man was accosted as he approached a wooden bridge that carries the path over the Wyomissing Creek at the township-Reading line.
Startled by the assailants, he fell off his bike. When the man told the assailants that he did not have any valuables, one of them grabbed his bike. He was shot during the ensuing struggle, police said.
Workers from the nearby Service Castor Corp., 9 First Ave., heard the man yell for help. One worker went to help the victim while another dialed 9-1-1.
Police said there was nothing the victim could have done differently than what he did. The opportunity is there for people intent on committing a crime because of how secluded the setting is, police said.
That incident occurred near where a Reading man shot two teenagers, one fatally, more than nine years ago when three youths tried to rob him while he was riding on the trail.
The incident Jan. 26, 2012, also occurred in the middle of the day in Cumru, but was closer to the bridge over the river.