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Share the road

Comments (21)
By Peter Hadzipetros

So there's a bit of a brouhaha in Fredericton over runners taking their exercise to the streets in the middle of winter. Seems a cab driver is worried that runners are adding a level of danger to his work.

He's got a point, you might be thinking. Why would anyone want to run on the streets in the middle of winter when there are perfectly good health clubs loaded with treadmills – and the odd indoor 200-metre university track?

Why not just run on the sidewalk?

Well we might, if they were cleared properly. Here in Toronto, it's up to homeowners to make sure the sidewalks in front of their homes are cleared after it snows – except for a few main arteries. The quality of the clearing varies from house to house - mostly from fair to treacherous, if you're in sneakers.

Even in towns and cities that still do spend your tax dollars to encourage people to get out by plowing sidewalks, the footing can be dangerous.

But snow, slush and ice aren't the only obstacles on the sidewalks. So are dogs, especially when they're on those leashes that give your pet way too much room to roam.

Runners have a responsibility when they are on the streets. They include:

  • Running in single file on the extreme left side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Making sure they're highly visible.
  • Obeying traffic lights.
  • Staying on the shoulder – if it's clear – on busier roads.

When you are on the streets, you are taking your chances – like catching the odd soaker as a car drives through a mass of slush or water. But no runner should have to face what I did a few weeks ago in Mississauga as I ran on the shoulder of a busy street with no sidewalk. As a privately-owned snowplow contractor approached, he dropped his blade sending a wave of slush and ice at me. As he passed, he lifted his blade.

Unfortunately, there are too many drivers on the road like him. I've seen them stake their claims of ownership of the road by coming at groups of runners before swerving away.

The city of Toronto has made a point of keeping two bicycle routes clear of snow and ice this winter. I'm lucky – I have easy access to them and use them for most of my runs. Safely away from traffic – and away from excruciatingly boring treadmills and short indoor tracks that can increase your risk of injury, the farther you run.

Sharing the road is less of a problem during the rest of the year. Fredericton, like many Canadian cities, offers an expansive off-road trail system. Most runners can't wait until the last of the snow and ice is gone so we can run in peace – and safety.

But until then, with a little mutual respect, please let's share the road.

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Comments (21)

wngf

Edmonton

Joggers,aaaagggghhhh!
Why is it they can't run in single file to start with (most of us learned that in kindergarten)? Three women running (sic) abreast and assuming everyone is going to clear the way. I find these people ruder than your average road rager. "I'm to busy being fit to use my brain", which by the way is being sloshed around like a wet sponge in a bucket.Perhaps they will learn after a few get bumped off the road....but not likely.

Posted May 12, 2009 11:54 AM

Don

Toronto

Cyclists and runners are inconvenient for drivers. Runners are inconvenient for cyclists. Drivers are a danger to runners and cyclists. Since it is unlikely that any group will disappear in the near future, all need to be more attuned to the others. Ideally, each group would have its own pathway. Until we convince our local govts to put bicycle lanes and jogging lanes everywhere, there will be accidents. It is in everyone's best interests to have separate lanes. Cyclists and runners have as much right to use public facilities as do drivers. If a sidewalk is not cleared, then for all intents there is no sidewalk and the road is the only option. Instead of fighting each other (govts love this because they don't have to do anything), get together and demand separate lanes wherever they are wanted. Drivers, if you do not want to share "your" space with slower vehicles, then help them get their own space. Until that happens no one will be happy. And don't be sidetracked by "costs" - in most cases the hardware is already there, all you need is some paint, and repainting lines is routine maintenance anyway.

Posted March 23, 2009 11:41 AM

A Cyclist

Vansterdam

Driver writes : "It's bad enough we have the hazard of bicycles on the streets"

WTF? Cyclists don't burn any carbon, and are way less likely to cause a fatal accident. We need more cyclists, not less, as we are facing a climate crisis on Earth.

I would say that it's bad enough we have the hazards of vehicles on the street. I'm so sick of this holier than thou, self-rightous, I-own-the-road bull$%#* coming from drivers like you.

May your "Karma" come back to haunt you. Have respect for those who use their own energy to get them around, and don't need to harm the planet to travel, you polluting windbag. A pox on you.

Posted March 16, 2009 09:56 PM

Running Lane

Toronto

Stephanie, a runner takes up no more room than a cyclist in a bike lane and we often run at the same speed as slower cyclists.

A while ago I was doing intervals, running on the far right side of a bike lane in Toronto and a cyclist came up behind me screaming at me to "Get off the f-ing road." He passed by me as I was doing a recovery jog between fast repetitions and was surprised to see me catch up to him after I started my next interval.

I feel much safer running through intersections when I'm in the bike lane because I'm not obscured by parked cars. I think as long as runners are mindful of other cyclists as treat themselves basically like slow bikes, there's no reason we can't share the bike lane. Just because one guy got in your way doesn't mean all runners should be barred from bike lanes.

Posted February 19, 2009 07:28 PM

Helena

Brampton

Angry drivers, if you want to feel better, improve your fitness level. You can run like us too, believe it or not. All it takes is a little training...

Posted February 16, 2009 07:38 PM

nomad

mississauga

Drivers!! Come on now. We are looking for a small portion of the road. What have we done to offend you? Why are you so angry? How often do you have to deal with runners on the road? Thank you to those who honk and smile.
Michael: Shame on you.You don't have to choose between the safety of your children or the runners. Just drive safely for everyone. If you were to hit and injure or kill a runner what would you tell your children?

Posted February 13, 2009 05:01 PM

Sandra

Milton

Way to go Peter! I think drivers and runners should share the road and respect each other. I can't tell you how many times I've almost been hit by a car (even while running on the sidewalk!). Last week, during our long run we were almost hit by two drivers who failed to stop at the stop signs posted in Streetsville (both were making right hand turns). It seems these signs are merely suggestions to drivers as opposed to the law!

Posted February 13, 2009 11:51 AM

Chris

Road Runner, the coyotes after you ...
Road Runner, if he catches you you're through

Posted February 12, 2009 09:25 PM

Stephanie

Toronto

Right, that was you in the bike lane jogging like you were the only person in the world, I had to swerve out into traffic to avoid you on my bike since you are also apparently deaf to the sound of a bike bell. Bike lane, not jogging lane.

Was that also you who ran up behind me and pushed me out of the way on the sidewalk because there wasn't room to pass and you couldn't use your outside voice to say excuse me?

Can't say I have much sympathy here, the road is for vehicles not pedestrians.

Posted February 11, 2009 08:34 PM

Michael

NB

I have been running since 2004 and I believe I am addicted to it. I love it. Never thought I would be.

I have a problem though with runners on the road in winter. I get why runners get on the road. The sidewalk tends to be slippery, if its cleared at all. Slippery means increased chance for injury. I have to say though, when I am driving, particularly when my kids are in the car, if a runner is in the roadway, I have little patience for it. I feel a slippery sidewalk is less dangerous than what could happen to a car and its occupants should a runner feel so entitled as to occupy too much of the road when the car has too stop in an emergency situation. If I have to chose between the safety of my kids and the runner, the runner will lose. Entitlement should not override safety. Join a gym in winter and use the treadmill for goodness sake!.

Posted February 11, 2009 06:59 PM

Todd

Yes, Driver, you do have upper hand when it comes to the power injure or kill. All, the more reason for drivers to excise care, in my opinion - no matter what the situation. Running on a track is your choice. Others prefer different venues for equally valid reasons.

Both drivers and runners should have respect for the other and not think they own the road. I think what road runners are objecting to are the aggressive actions deliberately used by some drivers which is akin to road rage and people doing stupid things from the anonymity of their vehicle.

And runners need to aware of traffic and what drivers can see and react to. Myself, I take special care at intersections and on hills.

There is no reason why we can't share the road.

Posted February 11, 2009 03:57 PM

Conerned

Driver: You're AWESOME!

Posted February 11, 2009 03:26 PM

Rob

Grimsby

I guess runners are not safe wherever there are cars.

Posted February 11, 2009 03:15 PM

Driver

Toronto

Whatever you say Neal...but just remember one thing, if there is ever a collision between a driver and a jogger, even if the driver is 100% at fault, the jogger always gets the worst of it.

By the way, I do jog, on a track away from traffic!

Posted February 11, 2009 02:46 PM

Rob

Grimsby

After being a survivor of a vehicle impact from running outdoors I am fully aware of the dangers that exist. My injuries were not severe and I was fortunate enough to complete my goal race. I really sympathize with the drivers and fully understand the complaints they may have.

I was injured while running on the sidewalk. The driver did not realize he was responsible to stop at the sidewalk and check for pedestrians that may be walking or running.

I feel safer on the road.

Posted February 11, 2009 01:33 PM

Chris

Niagara

My daily commute takes me from Niagara to Mississauga. I am fortunate to have an area in Hamilton where I can stop and get in a quick 10 miler.

I tip my hat to Hamilton Roads & Parks - District 3C as they do an outstanding job keeping the Hamilton Beach Waterfront Trail clear regardless OF weather conditions.

tO d

Posted February 11, 2009 12:32 PM

Neal

To Driver: Thank you for proving the point of the article and how about you go for a jog sometime.

Posted February 11, 2009 11:32 AM

Garth

In Cornwall the city plows the sidewalks and then some of the residents fill them back in when they clear their driveways. The city also not only does not clear the recreational paths in town, they put up gates to prevent access. This leaves no option but to run on roads that are not cleared all the way to the curb. We have no indoor track and I find that anything more than an hour on a treadmill is unbearable.

In Peterborough, at least a couple of years ago, I went for a run on treacherous roads and sidewalks only to find that the recreational path I had run on the previous summer was, in fact, cleared and usable by runners, walkers, and cyclists! Had I known that, I would have driven to the path and run from there.

Posted February 11, 2009 11:24 AM

Neal

Becoming a runner over the last two years has allowed me to sympathize with those on the road. Unfortunately when the responsibility for shoveling sidewalks is not in the Gov'ts hands then there's not much to be done but hit the streets. Not to mention running for an hour on pavement feels a lot better than running for an hour on concrete.

Posted February 11, 2009 10:58 AM

Driver

Toronto

Yes...all drivers must slow to 2km an hour on their way to work or delivery or whatever, so self absorbed runners like Peter can get their 30 minutes of exercise on busy highways.

It's bad enough we have the hazard of bicycles on the streets, but at least I can accept them as a form of vehicle. Runners are pedestrians and should stay on the sidewalk!

How about you find other alternatives like jogging on the spot when it snows or getting an indoor exercise bike.

Running on the road is a hazard and when inevitably a runner is hit and killed by some unsuspecting driver, all the jogging zealots will come on sites like this and berate drivers of all stripes.

Posted February 11, 2009 10:49 AM

Johnny Longsleeves

Last year on one of our long runs, Dan and I were running around a gentle bend, on a 4 lane road, when a blazer approached us at a high speed. I was on the inside and Dan was on the outside of the curb lane. The driver of the Blazer hugged the turn so tight, Dan stuck his hand up to protect himself and his hand made contact with the passenger side mirror. All I heard was a huge 'bang', similar to a "small" nuclear detonation, Dan never missed a stride after the contact, but I looked back and saw plastic debris and mirror fragments showering the ground.

The Driver kept going oblivious to what had just happenned.

Dan's hand hurt for a few weeks but the story has ensured "Super Dan" a place in our running group's folklore.

Posted February 11, 2009 10:30 AM

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About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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