Sadly, Summer is winding down and kids are getting ready to go back to school. Maybe that’s a good thing in your house?! But as there are a lot of new drivers on the road, people are getting back into “regular” schedules, and more people are exercising outdoors again after all this humidity, it’s important to remind people of some safety tips that EVERYONE should know about.
I’ve wanted to write this post multiple times after returning from a run where several cars came a little too close for comfort after looking up from their phones and realizing someone was running there. Or after someone drove behind me on my bike and honked their horn as they went by. Can you believe a woman in New Hampshire recently got shot at by teenagers with Nerf guns while she was out running this summer??? Can you imagine the shock of that while simply trying to do something good for yourself??? These behaviors are NOT safe to anyone on the road. Pedestrians or vehicle operators. But since I’m on a positivity kick the one thing that happened and pushed me to finally write this was from a group text I was on yesterday morning. Myself and two of my friends who also live in Auburn were texting about getting together. I replied in the morning and got an auto-response back from one of them that said “I’m driving right now and will respond when I’m able.” I LOVED to see that! I wish everyone would put their phones down while driving. By the way, when did we ever need to check text messages, Facebook, and emails EVERY 5 minutes (or less) back in the day??? Oh right, we didn’t.
So here’s some reminders for ALL of us. The responsibility is shared by everyone. Please be respectful and understand that it’s a privilege to be able to use our roads and trails. If we don’t respect them, we may not have them to use for leisure in the future. Sustainability is up to us. Let’s show the younger generations how to respect and share!
1. Phone use while driving AND exercising. This is for both sides. If you’re out running or biking, you should be paying as much attention to the road as drivers in cars and trucks. Exercise should also be a release from technology (I get it, I have a Garmin, I’m on Strava, and if you haven’t heard there’s a NE360Fitness App you can download!) so you shouldn’t be texting friends or taking calls. We complain about not having enough time to workout these days, so set the time and make the most of it! Drivers: When you are on your phone you’re 23% more likely to be involved in an accident. You may hurt yourself or you may hurt someone else. Or both. It’s not worth it.
2. Headphones. I know people look at me like I’m crazy when I say this, but I don’t run, walk, or bike with headphones. Unless I’m on a dreadmill, I want to be aware of my surroundings. Just yesterday while running on a busy road with barely a shoulder at a sharp turn I was so thankful I could hear a large truck coming. Had I not heard the ‘oversized’ truck with a bulldozer on it and kept running, I probably would have done what truly makes a runner a runner, and **** in my pants. There were actually two of them and I had to stop to let them continue, knowing they had no idea a runner was on the other side of the turn. *Also, follow the rules of the road when running and run facing the traffic so you can see what’s coming. In this particular instance, I had to give myself 3 feet of space (actually a little more since they were so big) and not rely on them to make a change so quickly.
3. Dogs. There should be no double standards. I get it, some dogs are so well behaved and enjoy running as much as I do. But with four different events happening over the years to my family and our friends, it’s important to have them leashed. The dog can be hurt, or as we’ve seen, people can be hurt. Either from a dog that chases, scratches, and bites to a dog that just gets in the way and causes a collision even when the runner/cyclist follows the rules (I’ve been clotheslined). Be aware that you may not be the only one on the trail and keep your dog on a leash. And with that said, runners and cyclists should be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary depending on the trail. Give the pet owner a heads up with a friendly “coming on your left” so the owner and the animal aren’t scared.
4. RoadID. One of my favorite safety tips comes in the form of material and technology. I know what you’re thinking and asking me to read #1 on my list of top safety tips again. But RoadID is a company doing great things for those of us who exercise anywhere outdoors! I have a RoadID that I wear on my wrist like a watch. It has my information and who to contact in an emergency should I ever be in that situation. What I really love about RoadID though, is their App. Because I’m often running on busy roads, or lonely trails, I use the App to alert my husband that I’m leaving for a run or bike ride. This is super helpful when I travel for work and am in an area I’m not too familiar with. He gets a text that I’ve started with an estimate of how long I anticipate being out for. If at any time, he wants to see where I am, he can tap the link in his text and it shows where I am at that point. When I’m finished, he gets another text saying that I’ve completed my workout and thanks him for following along. While that’s super cool, the best part of it is what I hope to never use. If I get stuck somewhere or need help, he can alert people where I am and that I’m in trouble. Let’s hope we never need that feature, but I think it’s extremely beneficial for anyone who heads outdoors, whether they know the area or not.
Point of View/Perspective
Understanding both perspectives can make us all more aware of our surroundings and keep us all safe…
What drivers may not understand from the runner or cyclist’s perspective is that often times there is danger on the side of the road that we have to avoid…No shoulder with a ditch, or uneven ground. Potholes. Puddles that we don’t know the depth of. Debris from the road or vehicles. Worst: dead animals. Even worse: live animals…I’m talking to you Mr. Snake.
Runners and cyclists may not understand that the solar glare makes it almost impossible for a driver to see what’s in front of them never mind on the side of the road. You have to make yourself viewable or stay completely out of the way.
Here is a GREAT video that explains points of view when cycling and why you may see some cyclists take ownership of the lane. It’s not necessarily to put you in a bad mood or make you late for work, it’s to keep everyone safe.
I hope you understand this post isn’t about pointing fingers at any one side. It’s about educating both sides what the other’s perspective is. It’s about respecting our roads and trails so we can continue to use them safely. It’s our obligation to understand everyone’s point of view when sharing roads and trails. Please review this yourself. Review this with others. We are all responsible and have a great gift to enjoy.
Will I see you out on the trails later?? I hope so!