On orders from my doctor, I've started riding my bike again to strengthen my legs and help out with my aging knees. I've found an excellent route around Columbia that's roughly 10 miles and a couple 100 feet worth of elevation change, and best of all, starts and ends at my garage. I like to do it in the early hours of the morning as I don't have as many cars on the road, nor walkers on the trail and bike paths I follow.
This morning during my early morning workout session, I passed one of the many, young, female college students in the area (there's 3 colleges/universities in town, and one of them is a girls only school, so, yeah, lots of college aged females running around), and she stared at me like I was going to hop off my bike and do unspeakable things to her as I rode past.
First off, it's not that she looked at me like that which is bothering me, it's because it took her until I was almost on top of her that she saw me - an average sized guy on a bike not trying to be quiet with all kinds of lights and reflectors on an open, straight stretch of trail snuck up to within 10 feet of her before she realized anyone was near her. Why? Her face was buried in her phone as she sauntered down the MKT spur trail. If I had any ill intents towards that young lady, well, let's just say that ignoring the rest of the world to look at your phone is not the way to make sure someone bad is moving towards you.
Second off, a fast moving target is harder to hit than one that is merely wandering down the trail. This young lady was walking, and if she thought she was getting exercise out of it, she was fooling herself. Yes, walking can be good for you, but at that pace, you'd have to walk the entire 10 miles of my route to do yourself any good. Pick up the pace, and maybe you'll be in good enough shape to outrun or beat up any potential attacker, or be in and out of their ambush area too quick for them to react.
Third, she was alone. Bring a friend. Go to Petfinder.com and get a dog. Something! Alone, not paying attention, and moving slowly on the pre-dawn trails is just asking for trouble, either from your fellow humans or from the wildlife in the area. And yes, I've seen a bunch of deer, rabbits, squirrels, and birds on the trail that predators (coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, even black bears) are a distinct possibility. Not a high probability, to be honest, but I've been worried about being clobbered by the deer as, in their panic, they attempt to bound back into the trees, usually right past me.
It's deplorable that attacks on young women (anybody, really) happen, but we don't have to make it easier for the bad people. And trust me, this is far easier than toting along pepper spray, a Taser, a telescoping or at the extreme end, a firearm and a CCW license. Don't forget the training and practice to use any of the above - a weapon you can't use effectively will just be taken from you and then used on you. Better to avoid it all and not look like anything an attacker wants to mess with.