People invited to join buddy up scheme when using crime-ridden St Albans to Hatfield pathway
PUBLISHED: 11:49 14 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 14 August 2019
Danny Loo Photography 2017
Safety-conscious residents say they now feel unable to navigate a crime-ridden footpath between St Albans and Hatfield alone.
Following a recent crime spate along the Alban Way, a petition was submitted to St Albans City and District Council calling for CCTV cameras and lighting along the stretch.
Despite reaching about 1,200 signatures, it was decided there was no "pressing need" and the former railway track remains unlit and secluded.
Sara Tomlin has now set up a Facebook group enabling people to walk or run along the pathway in pairs or small groups.
She thought up the idea, called Alban Way - Buddy Up, after she was the victim of an unprovoked attack.
The Hatfield local was running down the Alban Way at about 7.45am on August 11 when a cyclist punched her in the back.
A spokesperson from Herts police said the man was wearing all black and carrying a black rucksack.
Sara said: "It was a massive impact. It looked like he was about to slow down but then he went down one of the side lanes.
You may also want to watch:
"I was thinking, why do I now have to feel fearful going for a run in a really nice place?"
Teacher Sara is convinced the blow was not accidental: "The speed and the space he had to go around me, he did it for the sheer fun of it or maybe he was trying to grab my belt with my phone.
"He didn't slow down or turn around - if it was accidental most people would stop and say sorry. It wasn't an accident."
Sara is training to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October and hoping to raise £370 for Kidney Care UK.
It is a cause close to Sara's heart because her partner, Lee Rushby, has Berger's disease. He has to endure dialysis every day and is on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.
Sara only found out about the notoriety of the Alban Way after the incident: "I am glad I didn't know about the crimes until now - now I feel quite vulnerable and threatened and it makes me feel nervous to be on the path alone."
The group has proved to be a hit already, with more than 130 people already signed up. Sara stressed that she has not finessed the finer details and is planning on a preliminary meet up of interested people.
Anyone with information about Sara's attacker should call 101 with crime reference 41/72827/19.