You get crap everywhere. I tend to carry a 'legal' pepper spray with me (it's actually semi permanent ink) if I'm out on the local paths and canals in the evening, as there is a group of lads regularly robbing bikes off kids/teens - and I'd rather not have them try and take a good few quid of MTB off me.Crosses Fallowfield-Levenshulme off 'places to visit' list ...
I use @nickyboy's Llandudno ride route out of Manchester on my Cheshire forum ride. It crosses Sale Water Park. It is a nice ride out through there in the morning in a group but last Saturday I rode back through the park with just my tiny friend Carrie as the sun was setting. It had a different feel then. There are lots of quiet spots with nearby bushes for ne'er-do-wells to lurk in. I was happy when we got out of there and back onto the road again!
PS I get the same feeling on the Padiham Greenway. It is always busy with dog walkers and parents taking their kids for a walk during the day but in the evening it is very quiet and there are lots of places for would-be assailants to emerge from.
I know this is two years too late but...One of the things I teach is defensive tactics for cyclists.
About 10 years back a certain park in town had a terrible problem with robberies at night, people being robbed of phones, iPod, wallets etc. In the end I went to the Inspector and said id go out at night, stagger round pretending to be drunk, waving a mobile phone about, see which scumbag took the bait. Lurking in the shadows would be large burly officers with nicknames like The Swede, Pit Bull, etc, so I was pretty happy id be on the winning team.
My idea was knocked back because of "health and safety", yet to this day they don't bat an eyelid sending unarmed officers to offenders with knives, one officer I know being stabbed just last night. Let coppers do the coppering, and those who never could copper in the first place should just be sacked, not promoted to Inspector or above. That way scumbags like this would be quickly caught and dealt with.
Just been on the local BBC news, 10 robberies since September, been a cycling protest to highlight it...I don't know if these are related crimes, but there's been a series of muggings/robberies recently in the Heaton Moor and Levenshulme areas. It's mainly been teenagers that have been targeted and they've had their bikes taken off them (sometimes at knife point).