When we are out on our bikes or pounding the pavement with our running shoes we sometimes feel, let’s be honest, invincible. Whether we call it being in “the zone”, “runner’s high” or “cyclist’s high”, the point is sometimes when we are pedaling or running we are “in the groove”, “crushing it” or cruising along, seemingly effortlessly, that we almost feel like the roads or trails are our personal domains for that moment in time. Intellectually, we all know that this isn’t the case at all. And, as we unfortunately know too well, people who run and cycle get killed and seriously injured everyday while training.
2013 Cycling and Pedestrian Injury Statistics in the U.S.
- 4,735 pedestrians killed in crashes.
- 743 bicyclists killed in crashes.
- 66,000 reported pedestrian injuries
- The number of estimated bicyclist injuries was 48,000
If you are a regular cyclist or runner then you probably have friends or at least know of friends-of-friends who have been hit or killed by cars while they were on the roads riding or running. I personally know 1 woman who lost her life while cycling and probably a dozen, or so, cyclists and runners who have been hit by vehicles while training on the roads.
You are invisible – Defensive running and cycling
As endurance athletes we have to remember that most people don’t do what we do daily. People in their cars are focusing on other cars and sometimes look only one direction when entering a one-way street (and dare I say, sadly, two-way streets as well), and thus don’t see us running on the sidewalk or cycling in the bike lane in the direction which they forget to check. I know many of you wear your blinking lights like a newly decorated Christmas tree and my cyclists out there have bright lights on both the front and back of their racing and triathlon bikes, but even with all of these precautions it is still sometimes not enough for motorists to see we are coming, remarkably – especially if you’re riding or running solo.
I know this infuriates many of you – I feel your frustration. But after running for close to 39 years on the roads, I’ve just accepted that a certain percentage of drivers are completely oblivious to runners and cyclists and that we have to be the ones who must be defensive about our running and cycling.
When I’m out on the roads I just assume no one sees me. I don’t cross in front of an idle car until I make eye contact with a driver as I’m crossing an intersection (and even then I’ve had on occasion for the driver to still just look right through me – frightening!) or I run behind the vehicle, even when it’s at a full stop, just to be a little bit safer.
Runner or Cyclist vs. Automobile – Car wins every time
BUT THEY SHOULD SEE US!
HOW ARE THEY SO FRICKIN’ BLIND?!
MOST DRIVERS ARE A BUNCH OF IDIOTS!
WE DESERVE TO BE ON THE ROADS JUST AS MUCH AS THEY ARE!
Again, while I can empathize with your frustration with some motorists, I do find that some endurance athletes (myself included) get somewhat cocky with motorists and tempt fate a bit. What do I mean? Here are some examples:
- Filling up an entire motorist lane with bicycles when there is a bike lane available
- Running on the road when there is a a sidewalk
- Running with traffic when there isn’t a sidewalk
- Not wearing reflective clothing or lights at night or dusk
- Expecting motorists to see you
- Runners in the bike lane and not getting out of the way of cyclists as they head towards you
- Not obeying traffic signals
Cyclists, I know you have every right to be on the road as cars, but that doesn’t mean you should provoke cars. If they don’t see you and they hit you, you lose.
Runners, while I know many of us like to run on the road (hopefully, against traffic), we need to realize that the sidewalks are really for us – this also means to keep out of the bike lanes as well. I would be lying to you if I told you that I never ran on the road – I do it all of the time. But the moment I see a car or a bike coming my direction, I hop back on the sidewalk and continue on my way.
We as endurance athletes do need to let motorists know that we are out there and have a right to the roads and sidewalks. But, let’s remember to do our part to and not be adding to the issue of motor vehicle accidents against runners and cyclists.
Happy riding and running!
*Statistics attained from pedbikeinfo.org