Walking & Running Safety Tips
Tips for making your runs a little safer:
Sharing the often narrow roads around our campus with cars and trucks requires that we do some things to take personal responsibility for our own walking or running safety. We thought it might be a good idea to share some tips that just could keep you safer on the roads, so here goes…
Run on East Campus roads and paths whenever possible – East Campus roads provide lighter traffic, wide sidewalks, and links to an existing 2 mile loop walking/running path and connecting pathways. Plans are in the works to expand the East Campus running paths and improve their condition. Running on the East Campus is just plain safer all around.
Run Facing Traffic & Obey Pedestrian Safety Laws - State laws are on the books that are designed to protect pedestrians on or near the roads and highways. Maryland law actually requires that walkers and runners use a sidewalk if one is provided but further allows that, “where a sidewalk is not provided, a pedestrian who walks (or runs) along a highway may walk (or run) only on the left shoulder, if practicable, or on the left side of the roadway, as near as practicable to the edge of the roadway, facing any traffic that might approach from the opposite direction.” It may all seem counter-intuitive but running facing traffic allows you to see vehicles and people approaching in your direction and respond if you need to.
Resist the urge to wear headphones or earbuds – music may help the miles pass a bit more easily but the trade-off is in diminished personal safety. Forego your tunes and just enjoy the view, especially when you find yourself on an isolated road or trail.
Use the buddy system – the saying “there’s safety in numbers” is particularly applicable to running on the roads. If you turn an ankle or pull a muscle in the middle of a five mile run it’s comforting to have a friend there who can help you get home or go for help. Anyone who’s been running for any length of time has probably experienced cat-calls, rude comments, and maybe even articles hurled from a passing vehicle. In those cases it just feels good to have a friend along.
Share the road – as vehicles or other people approach it is the common courtesy and common sense to stay as close to the edge of the road as you can. If you’re running with a buddy try running single file as the vehicle passes. If the driver moves over to give you a little more room give them a friendly wave to acknowledge their kindness…it goes a long way to making sure they’ll do the same the next time too.
Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back – that way if you hurt yourself during your run or don’t return by the time you’re expected somebody can check on you. When you do return don’t forget to let them know too.
Have a plan – this is especially important for women but applies to men as well. Whether out on a run or walking across campus, taking personal responsibility for your safety means thinking about how you’ll respond if you’re put in a difficult situation. Just because you feel safe since you’ve run the same route dozens or even hundreds of times doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. There’s a difference between feeling safe and being safe. Having a plan helps you be safe.
Be seen - If it is dark outside when you run wear light colored clothing, a reflective vest, use a flashlight and/or flashing lights to make sure drivers see you and you stay safe.
Clearly indicate your intentions to drivers – Very often runners take for granted that a driver sees them and knows where they are going or what they are going to do. If you are getting ready to cross a roadway, even at a controlled intersection with a stop sign or stop light, make eye contact with drivers and use hand signals letting them know where you intend to go, This goes hand-in-hand with the “Be seen” tip. Drivers may be distracted or otherwise careless so don’t go ‘til you know they know where you want to go.
Following these tips can help you stay safe. Use them as a guide of just a few of the many things you can do to take more personal responsibility for your running safety…hopefully they’ll also make your runs even more enjoyable and productive.