Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday spirit and safety scrooges

How hard is it to understand?
Today's run: 5 miles

Although I don't celebrate Christmas, I do appreciate the holiday. This involves enjoying all the decorations, watching the movie Elf on Christmas Eve and trying to be more patient with people. It was in that spirit that, on today's run, I tried to warn people about the dangers of walking in the street with their backs to traffic. The responses I got indicated a fundamental lack of said spirit.

I usually hold my tongue when I see people walking on the right side of the road (often two abreast), trusting that drivers are paying attention. I've found that people don't value my safety guidance and tend to react negatively when I suggest switching to the other side. One conversation went like this:

Me: You know, it's a lot safer if you run facing traffic.
Woman runner: I've been running in this neighborhood for 20 years and never had a problem.
Me: People didn't text and talk on cell phones 20 years ago.
Woman runner: Pfffft

Since then, I've kept my mouth shut. But today I decided to try again. The first offenders were taking up half the road, making it necessary for cars to move into the left lane in order to pass them. I told these people that walking that way was risky. They told me to mind my own business. The next conversation happened when I was closer to home. A man was walking his dog in the street and I said it's safer to walk facing traffic. He snorted, "Yeah, right" so I responded "Have a good day!"

I get that people can react badly when they get unsolicited advice. My hope is that they'll think about the situation and realize later that what I'm saying is true. So far, I haven't seen evidence of that. If I was more noble, I'd continue to warn people despite these reactions. It's a nice thought, but I think I'll wait until next Christmas to try it again.


  1. What kinds of streets are these people running on? I have a couple of very wide, somewhat quiet streets where I will sometimes run closer to the middle. Also, when I turn the corner near my house, I run with traffic because it is less than a quarter mile and I'm in a wide shoulder. This is out of sheer laziness because I don't feel like crossing the street only to cross again so I can turn onto my block. I know what the risks are, but I try to be very aware of my surroundings. If someone shouted a warning to me, I think I would thank him, but only after I made fun of his outfit.

  2. One of the roads where I see these people is fairly narrow and it leads to the nearby middle school. The speed limit is 25 and I see drivers going at 40+ all the time. One out of three drivers are on their phone and/or texting. I avoid the middle of the street except to cross but there is a segment where I'll run on the right for a tenth of a mile to avoid crossing and re-crossing near my street. Otherwise it's the left side or the sidewalk. For some unusual reason, I was dressed normally today and yet people still rebuffed my suggestions.


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