Rules of the Road
Rules of the road: How to stay safe while pounding the pavement and using the bike lane
For most of endurance athletes, a big majority of their training is done outdoors. Whether it be on the trails or the road, most serious athletes prefer the fresh air over being couped up in a gym. If you live in a more urban setting, most likely your training is going to consist of pounding the pavement or riding on the roads. In order to stay safe while training in the middle of a heavily populated area, there a few simple rules that should always be followed while running or riding.
Most runners would think that running on the sidewalk is relatively safe. And for the most part, it is. But the fact is, a runner is no match for a car speeding through an intersection. In this day and age of texting and talking on the phone while driving, a lot of drivers are usually distracted and can easily overlook a runner crossing the intersection. In order to stay safe at crosswalks, make sure you have pedestrian signal and make eye contact with any driver that is looking to cross the street in your direction. Especially during the morning hours, most drivers are in a rush so don't proceed until they see you.
Many runners choose to run in the bike lane, since the asphalt is perceived to be softer on the joints than pavement. If you prefer the bike lane, make sure to run against traffic, so you are aware the cars coming towards you. Also, always get out of the way for cyclists, since it is actually their lane.
Since cyclists are required to ride in the bike lane with traffic, following the rules of the road are essential for a safe ride. Before heading out on a ride, make sure your bike is working properly. A busy street is not the ideal place to have to make last minute bike repairs. Although it is common sense, don't forget your most important piece of equipment - your helmet.
Since you are sharing the road with motorists, cyclists must follow the same rules that cars do. Make sure to stop at all stop signs and traffic lights and use hand signals when turning. Be sure to stay in the bike lane and ride with traffic. Also, be conscious of parked cars, since a driver exiting the car may not see you when they open the door. If its raining, use extreme caution and ride slower. If you choose to ride with music, make sure it is turned down and only in one ear. And if you ride at night, make sure you are extremely visible with lights and reflective clothing.
While most athletes don't encounter problems with motorists while they are training, it is important to follow these simples guidelines while out on the road. Runners, cyclists and motorists all share the streets so it's important to be respectful to everyone out there. In order to be safe on the roads, it is vital to pay attention to what is going on around you. Remember, a runner or cyclist will always lose if hit by a moving car so keep those eyes and ears open while out on the road.
Emily Cebulski is a veteran marathoner, freelance writer and employee at the San Diego Running Institute.