Saturday, April 18, 2020

Rules of the Road and Safety Tips for Runners & Walkers

Ahh springtime during a nationwide quarantine!  The beach parking lots may be closed but the roads are always open and it’s great to see so many new people running, walking and biking.

Maybe you’ve been cooped up on the couch watching Netflix all day or sitting at a desk working from home for 8 hours straight, it’s important to get out of the house for some fresh air, Vitamin D and get the blood flowing as long as you are not sick or at-risk of spreading the virus.

Your safety is also important and so is following the unwritten rules of the road:

Travel on the correct side of the road.

Run and walk against traffic.  Bike with traffic.  It’s crazy how many people either don’t know or don’t follow this rule.  Not only is it much safer, in some states it’s even a law.  And with social distancing being such a hot topic right now if everyone is on the wrong sides of the road, it’s more difficult to avoid close contact when passing fellow runners and walkers.  It’s always best to run or walk on the sidewalk but on roads without them, travel on the side of the road so you can see the cars coming towards you.  Don’t assume drivers can see you.  Stay alert and be ready to jump out of the way from distracted drivers. 

Keep your dogs on a leash.

I am 100% a dog lover but please keep them on a leash.  It doesn’t matter how well behaved you believe your pet is, a charging dog and one misstep can lead to an injury and a few weeks of recovery.  Many leashed dogs are triggered by off-leash dogs so even if you’re dog is friendly, another dog could react.  On a similar note, for goodness sake pick up your dog’s poop!

Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth… even outside.

The CDC is recommending everyone wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social discancing measures are difficult to maintain to reduce the spread of the virus from spreading between people interacting in close proximity.”  If you’re running on crowded sidewalks or trails, it may be difficult to follow the 6-foot rule.  Play it safe and cover your nose and mouth with a mask, BUFF or other breathable face covering especially when approaching/passing others because COVID-19 can be transmitted outside through the air if someone coughs or sneezes.

Get comfortable running alone.

Now more than ever it’s important to run solo and ditch the running group and training partners.  Need that motivation to get out on the door?  Check in with your run buddies daily.  Create Facebook accountability groups.  Follow your friends on Strava.  Some run clubs are even doing virtual runs.  And you’re worried about running alone for safety reasons, there are different apps and GPS watches that send tracking so others can keep track of your whereabouts.  My family uses the Road iD app which sends “ecrumbs” so we can follow along.  The app even sends an alert if you are stationary for more than 5 minutes.  I also bring along mace (I only recommend it if it’s legal in your state and if you’re familiar with using it) and my scary 80-pound pup to keep me feeling safe.

If you’re out at night, see and be seen.

Did you know that according to the National Safety Council the chances of being struck and killed as a pedestrian increase 1100% after dark?  Some runners are practicing social distancing by waiting until dark to run outside in hopes that they will encounter less people on the roads, just make sure you invest in a good headlamp and some reflective gear.

If you’re driving, yield to pedestrians at the crosswalk.

Not only is it a Massachusetts state law, it’s rude!  Just a personal daily run frustration that I had to mention.

Acknowledge your fellow runners and walkers.

If you run past me, a friendly nod is nice.  A smile or wave is even better.  You may be suffering but we suffer together.  The running community is special and we’re all out there for different reasons with different goals but even alone we are all in this together and I believe it is absolutely necessary to at least acknowledge those that are out there pounding the pavement with you.

Good luck out there!  Stay safe & happy running!

Blog post by Jen Skiba.

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