public safety reminder: road rules

I’ve stewed on this post a good long time and tonight I realized I should stop trying to make it perfect and focus on getting it out there. School is starting up and I think it’s a good time to send out this reminder.

Why? Perhaps I might educate and indirectly save a life, or at the very least keep someone from doing something really really stupid.

Also, I’m sick of people thinking these rules do not apply to them. I don’t know why they think that. Are they too cool? They will be when they’re dead.

  • If you run or walk on the road (not on the sidewalk) at any time BE OPPOSITE TO TRAFFIC. The only ones who can go the normal way and should go the normal way are bicycles and cars. If you are on two feet, no matter what pace you are cruising at, you need to be opposite to traffic. The only exception to this is if you are on a sidewalk or another area that is (theoretically) barricaded to traffic. I still often go opposite to traffic on a sidewalk but that’s years of being very distrustful that a huge fast chunk of steel will stay where it ought.

  • If you run or walk or bike on the road (or really on a sidewalk in my opinion) early in the morning or late at night be bright. My brights are items I would never be caught dead in at any other time, but without them I could be dead.
  • Do not blast headphones and music. I admit to listening to podcasts on my walk home during bright daylight hours, but I always keep the volume low enough I can hear cars. You would not, however, ever catch me listening to PodRunner while out for a run. It is perfect for indoor situations, such as when I have a bike on the trainer.
  • Assume if you can’t see them clearly, they probably can’t see you. If you are rounding a corner at the top of a hill and you hear a car coming and you can’t see them? Get as far out of the road as you can and make yourself big. In my case that means throwing up my arms.
  • Give cars the right away on all intersections and crossings unless the driver stops and makes eye contact and some sort of (g-rated) gesture to proceed ahead of them. This especially applies to driveways too.
  • If you go out alone tell somewhere your proposed route and when you expect you’ll be back. Keep some sort of ID including emergency contact info on your person. added: see Devorah’s link below. I’m not endorsing them per se, but it’s much better than an index card with a name and phone number scribbled. If you are allergic to any medication or have a unique blood type, list that.
  • If you run in a trail system definitely wear bright colours, and know when different hunting seasons are in effect. At the very least it may alert you to when you might find animals half field dressed in the trail. Trust me, you’ll learn to hurdle really quick!

If you are not following these reminders, I might see you and start screaming at you.

Now, the question always comes up, I want to run and my (spouse|child|dog) wants to ride a bike. What do we do?

Find a dedicated trail or path system. Do not go out on the streets. It’s too dangerous.

Please just think. Be smart.

Ok, was that a lot to digest? Here it is again:

Assume all drivers are brand new drivers, exhausted, and driving distracted. Assume they can’t see you.
Do everything you can to be seen. Wear bright reflective clothing. Run against traffic. Make noise (or size). Be prepared to slow down and stop. Safety is much more important than the stop watch.

That concludes today’s public safety reminder.

Reader interactions

3 Replies to “public safety reminder: road rules”

  1. And get Road Id:

    It’s inexpensive, non-intrusive and could seriously help if you are alone and injured.

    (I have no financial interest in the company, just love my Road Id. I have it, my husband has it, my kids have it. And we wear it!)

  2. I agree with Devorah about the Road Id.

    I can’t stand when I see bikers going against traffic. So, so lame. Also, bikers who don’t wear helmets are looking for a closed-casket funeral when their skulls can’t be put back together prettily. Just saying.

  3. I’ve got my kids playing a “game” every day I do the school carpool – assigning safety points to the bicyclists we see.

    1 point each:
    – STOPPING as red lights (and waiting for the light cycle, not just a clear path)
    – HAND SIGNALS if/when turning or crossing lanes (traffic path relevant)
    – HELMET

    Very few cyclists get all 3 points, unfortunately, although several might deserve – we sometimes turn before they do, or the lights may be in our favor.

    But it reminds my kids that safety matters, even when you’re an adult, regardless of how many fools are on the loose out there.

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