Pedestrian Safety - A Runner's Perspective


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 Main Street at the corner of Highland - where people never seem to stop at the crosswalk).

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.


Definitely risky running on the streets (especially at night) but I can see their point about the sidewalks.

The last storm we had I had to walk on busy Central Ave in the street at night because of one house that only shoveled their driveway. At first I thought it was someone infirm or elderly but if they can get their driveway done they can do the extra few feet of sidewalk. They are a repeat offender and should be fined!!

I love the idea of staying in shape, especially by running. However, in a busy suburban area like Metuchen, it's silly (perhaps even selfish) to think that running in the street (and at night?) is a right. It's simply too crowded and busy. We have myriad schools with tracks in the area and Roosevelt Park. Use the safer options and skip running in the streets.

I am going to put my two cents on this. I just turned the big 50. I have run almost every day since 1974 and I mean every day. Getting old and slow but I still run. In my youth, I ran the streets. Around here not a good idea. Way too many people pass on the right illegally and ignore stop sig markings. In my middle ages I run the sidewalks. Snow not a problem; I wear metal studs set in rubberized pull overs on my running shoes about $20 bucks from LL Beans buy them they work. You will not slip. Night time running--you darn well better wear a reflective vest. We have a problem with residents in Metuchen and it is growing. More new residents are not repeat not doing their civic duty and shoveling snow. You can not walk down Hillside on sidewalks in snow to the train station anymore because a few chosen homes refuse to clean the sidewalks. Like in never. Hint new residents or under construction closer to the church. Mr. Boerth, I hope you are reading this. It is time to start issuing warnings and then citations. I do not want to end up like Highland Park writing tickets all over the place but the time has come to act.

Please wear reflective vests at night. Some streets are dark in Metuchen. When a person jogging in the dark, wearing dark clothes jogs around a dark garbage can and pops into the road a bit, it gives people a start.

The sidewalk are truly a mess in our little town. I remember tryiing to push a stroller around the streets 9 years ago and it hasn't gotten better.

I agree, the sidewalks in many areas of town are hazardous to not only runners but walkers and people with baby carriages. That being said, I must say I don't agree with running in the streets or right of ways here in town unless it's for a charity run or the like, and the streets are blocked by the Police to insure the safety of the runners. We do have quite a few places where a person can run without being in traffic. St. Joseph's High School, Metuchen High School, Roosevelt Park, Edgar Field, Vidas Field, Myrtle Field, Hampton Park are all good safe places to run.
I believe runners should think of their safety first and foremost and running in the street is like running before the bulls in Pamplona Spain. It may be a "rush" but boy is it dangerous.
PLEASE if you must continue to run in the right of way, be extra careful and think about moving your run to a park.

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Recent Comments

  • evelynfuertes: Definitely risky running on the streets (especially at night) but read more
  • cca: I love the idea of staying in shape, especially by read more
  • Fairness in People: I am going to put my two cents on this. read more
  • colleen: Please wear reflective vests at night. Some streets are dark read more
  • A. Sardone: I agree, the sidewalks in many areas of town are read more

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