Sharing the road with runners, cyclists

Published 7:01 am Sunday, May 14, 2017

I was in the homestretch of a run and feeling good when I felt my leg catch. I fell forward, somehow managing to tuck and roll rather than face-plant. Still, I fell to the sidewalk, scraping my knee and elbow on the pavement.

I looked up to see a few cars passing on the street and they all appeared to be watching me with more curiosity than concern.

Aside from a few scrapes and cuts, I was fine after my mid-run fall last year. But I’ve been thinking a lot this year about joggers, bikers, walkers and children on the roads after hearing a few pedestrian versus car calls already come across on the law enforcement scanner this year.

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Things can go wrong very quickly, whether it’s a biker or runner who happens to slip into traffic, over-eager children or teens, or just general walkers.

Whatever the circumstance, it’s important for all of us to be aware as the spring and summer get us out and about.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

•Distractions: Our local and state law enforcement recently finished a distracted driving awareness campaign.

It’s always important to recognize that distractions abound for us, whether we’re driving or walking, running and biking.

The usual culprit we bring up is cell phones — especially texts. But I run to relax, which doesn’t alway make me the most focused. I ran across a residential road strewn with parked cars. I looked once and saw nothing, looked again and still saw nothing and then I jogged through the intersection … only to see a truck driving fast toward me.

People forget that the brain is often the biggest distraction. Have you ever gotten somewhere and scarcely remembered the drive?

•Beware the easy spots: A few recent mild scares came for me at residential alleyways.

You know them: Those alleyways at the center of residential blocks. Typically, when running, we tend to overlook them, thinking they’ll be sparse on traffic. But a few times already this year, I’ve been surprised to see cars coming out these alleys rather quickly.

•Expect the unexpected: I was running last year once on a rural road when a hay ride passed me with one rider’s pants down to moon me, one hand holding his pants and the other holding a beer can.

My thoughts: A mix of “Now there’s something you don’t see every day” and “What the …?”  And then in watching the others on the wagon, I started bracing myself for a beer can to be thrown my way.

It never came, but it was a good moment of caution.

Runners and bikers out on rural roads need to use some extra caution. I try to spot cars coming from a ways away when jogging and have thought on more than one occasion, “Can I dive into the ditch if this car keeps veering?”

Really, we all need to take a moment and pause at the amount of trust and cooperation that goes into keeping people safe and secure on our roads and trails. We all have a hand in helping keep things safe.