Our roads are crowded with both pedestrians and drivers. Lately we've seen a few incidents where the two have collided. A reader suggested we get a runner's perspective on safety and so we have. We have responsibilities to each other. Here's how one local runner tries to stay safe:
I run early, so will sometimes where a reflective vest. Not very often. I stay safe by running into the flow traffic rather than with traffic (i.e., looking at you vs. my back to you.) All of my accidents and close calls have been running with traffic - I've had people turn into a grocery store RIGHT into me running (and I'm not fast); I've had people edge up behind me, slow down and honk like crazy; I've even have had people edge out into my way when they see me.
None of these things happen when I run against the flow of traffic and drivers can see me. My only safety issue is overcurious drivers who can't believe I'm running on the street and who inadvertently edge toward me inadvertently, or people pulling out from a side street (since they are looking the other way.) Running in the street actually helps because it gives me more time to react and be safe. I did have one close call when running on the sidewalk: I went to cross the street and someone didn't stop at the cross walk (the one on
Why run on the street? Have you run on the sidewalk lately? It is a mess. Uneven sections, un-shoveled, some have concrete pieces dropped on it and never cleaned up. I've fallen when running on the sidewalk three times this past year and a half, and I have never fallen on the street in more than five years of running. As a country, we take much better care of streets than sidewalks. There is only one pothole I have to avoid (on the bridge by Metuchen High), but uneven pavement on the sidewalks is all over.
I like to keep an eye on the drivers, too. I don't expect much from them. People smoke, eat, talk on the phone, read and any number of other things while driving which makes them quite the safety hazard. If they see me, they give me space. If not, I hop up on the curb for a few paces. It would be interesting to find out if there are any guidelines in defensive driving classes or driver's ed classes about pedestrians other than those directly in the crosswalk. I think drivers who have an arrogant attitude of "owning" the road has made many more offensive than defensive.
I'm surprised so many people are annoyed by runners on the road. Running has been around for a long time, before cars. I wish more drivers would respect and share the road with runners and bikers. It would help if everyone tried running and biking just once.