It can get pretty hairy out there for motorists who must share the road with other vehicles, mopeds, bicycles, runners, walkers, and occasional stray chickens or spooked cats. As someone who is both a runner and a motorist, I feel I can advise on how to courteously and safely share the road with runners. As for advice on sharing the road with bicyclists and wildlife, you’ll have to find another expert.
1. If I am running in the bike lane, please stay in your lane. Don’t try to assert your vehicular prowess by aiming for me when I am in a lane reserved for the slower and smaller. You stay in your space, I’ll stay in mine.
2. If the speed limit in a small neighborhood is 20 miles an hour, don’t go 45. Don’t even go 35. There are runners out there, as well as walkers, their dogs, and children playing in the street. Do what you need to on the highway, but when you pull into your neighborhood, slow it down and try to enjoy the fact that you are almost home.
3. If no cars are approaching in the opposite direction on any given road, it would be courteous of you to move your vehicle over a foot or two. In instances like this, you can think of the road like a movie theater. If the theater is crowded, other moviegoers get it when you must sit right next to them. If the road is crowded, as a runner, I get it when you can’t move over. If a movie theater is empty, it’s just weird to sit right next to someone you don’t know. Same is true on the roads. If no one is coming and motorists don’t move over, it’s just weird.
4. If you want to roll down your car window and yell something like, “You go girl! Attack that hill!” while I’m running up a killer hill, please feel free do so. This might give me the adrenaline boost I need to make it to the top. On the other hand, if you feel like catcalling, keep your window rolled up and your dirty thoughts to yourself. I’m marathon training, for Pete’s sake!
5. Keep your trash and other items inside your vehicle. The road is not your garbage can, and I don’t want to see your McDonald’s wrappers littering the Johns Island bridge or have to hurdle an old couch cushion to continue on my run. This is marathon training, people, not the steeplechase.
6. Remember your humanity. While the safety of our vehicles makes it easier to be more aggressive and disconnected from others, remember you are a human, as are those runners out there on the roads. Follow the rules of common courtesy, don’t just reserve them for dinner parties and meeting your in-laws for the first time.
Someone who is a runner and a motorist
Meet the Bullards: Julie and her husband Justin are neither medical, nutrition, nor fitness professionals. Their only claim to expertise in the area of running is the frequency with which they run half marathons. Both members of the Half Fanatics, Julie and Justin average one half marathon per month, but have run as many as three in 30 days. Julie writes about the regularity of mistakes they make in their constant quest to run, and hopes that readers of this blog can learn from both their shortcomings and successes. You can follow them on Twitter @runbullardsrun.
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