three weeks of every year, I fear for my life.
more accurate to say that I become highly attuned in regard to
my safety while running. See, I spend some time each year in a
small coastal town in south British Columbia, and the roads
are hilly, windy and completely lacking in a
remember elementary school. Walk facing traffic. Ride your
bike with traffic.
I often see people running that same coastal road with the
traffic. Probably a quarter of the runners I see are on the
it is the wrong side. In most, but not all cases, the proper
side is the left side (one-way roadways not always
withstanding). Just make sure youíre facing traffic. Youíll
be doing it correctly. Youíll be doing it safely.
all presupposing the lack of a suitable walking path or
you donít run on the sidewalk, you can be ticketed,"
said James Solomon, director of program development for the
National Safety Councilís defensive-driving courses.
"Youíre supposed to use running paths and sidewalks
about those situations where there is no path or sidewalk?
runner needs to be able to see possible danger coming,"
Solomon said. "You want to run facing traffic."
Solomon, who is a runner, added, "I always run facing
traffic. I never give anyone a free shot at me."
On this narrow B.C. road I am hyper-vigilant, always ready to
dive into the ditch if the person driving toward me doesnít
feel like sharing. It just seems like a no-brainer to me. Cars
are big and made of metal; humans are small and soft and
squishy. The pedestrian always loses. Every time I see people
running with traffic, I cringe.
should run against traffic, so they can see the traffic coming
toward then," says Jason Karp, an author of several books
on running including "Running a Marathon for
Dummies." Everyone I talked to said against traffic is
the way to go.
against traffic," Jean Knaack, executive director for the
Road Runners Club of America, told me. "More than
anything the reason is safety."
email from Derrell Lyles at the U.S. Department of
Transportation makes it official: "Walk on sidewalks, if
available; if no sidewalk, walk facing traffic." This is
the recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety
are the consequences for rule breakers?
will not find federal laws that tell you what side of the road
to run on," Solomon said. "They will either be
state, county or local jurisdiction. ... Everything Iíve
seen has said Ďfacing traffic.í Iíve never seen anything
Solomon and Knaack spoke of people being ticketed for walking
or running on the road when there was an available sidewalk,
but it seems as though the enforcement for running facing
traffic is practically nonexistent. Solomon refers to running
facing traffic as "common-sense-based legislation."
This is one of those things where enforcement via a police
officer writing up tickets isnít the reason to obey the law.
Fear of being turned into a road pizza is.
amazing how many people donít run facing traffic,"
Knaack told me. "Itís not a safe choice. Donít just
check your brain at the door when you leave home."
one thing to consider leaving at home is your music player.
When I run on roadways, I forgo the iPod, because although I
can see the cars coming toward me, I want to hear the cars
coming from behind for a very important reason: That car
coming from behind can affect the path of the car coming
a motorist sees another vehicle coming at them theyíre going
to focus on that vehicle and avoiding hitting it, and not
likely paying attention to you," Solomon said. He
recommends a reflective vest for people running on roadways to
increase their visibility.
interesting that itís a lawyer who doesnít advise blind
allegiance to the law.
preach a common-sense approach to personal safety,"
William Adams, a general practice lawyer and runner in
Morgantown, W.Va., told me. "All else being equal, face
traffic. But sometimes itís not equal. Sometimes there is
poor visibility on the traffic-facing side. Sometimes there is
a much bigger shoulder on the side with traffic."
STORY CAN END HERE)
is a sidewalk or running path, the law states that you must
run on it, regardless if it goes with or against traffic.
no federal law stating which side of the road to run on, but
local, county and state legislation points toward running
against traffic to see approaching vehicles.
wearing reflective material to be more visible to motorists.
alert. You must be prepared to leap out of the way of an
a certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder