After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Sorry Runners - Vehicles Win

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.
If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: September 24, 2012 and updated for reading now. I think this is just as pertinent today as it was when I first wrote it. Especially, after the other night when I almost ran over the "invisible" runner.

This post probably isn’t going to win me any friends in the running community, but it might save someone from some pain and suffering.

Over the time that I have been back to running, I have been hearing all the complaints about how many bad drivers there are in cars, from other runners online.

I have to admit I have had a few incidents myself. Were I have felt the need to salute certain drivers in what I thought was an appropriate response to their actions, stupidity or carelessness.

However, for the most part – I would say that 98% of the drivers on the road are pretty decent about sharing the road with runners. Where I live and run in Maine, there are not a lot of tarred shoulders or sidewalks and if you get off the road, you are either in a ditch, dirt or high grass. Most drivers I have found will try to move over and let you stay on the road – when they can.

That is the big point – when they can.

  • If another vehicle is coming, they have to stay in their lane and it always seems that the two vehicles meet when right beside a runner. Murphy’s Law of Running in Traffic.
  • If a vehicle is going up a hill, they have to stay in their lane.
  • If a vehicle is coming to a corner, they have to stay in their lane
  • If a vehicle is in a blind turn and suddenly come up on you, it sucks to be the runner.

At those points the runner needs to be aware of where they are and regardless of how much it destroys their rhythm or pace, get off the damn road and let the vehicle go by – for everyone’s safety, especially their own.

However, many times this past summer, when I have been driving by runners in those situations, they don’t yield and have caused unsafe conditions for me as a driver, other vehicles and them as runners. Then they give me that wonderful one-finger salute, because I couldn’t move over the center line at that point and time due to safety reasons, not because I was being an asshat.

As a courtesy when I see fellow runners on the road I tend to slow down, especially when I see more than one, however, when one of the conditions I listed above are happening and the runner does not yield and get off the tarred road, it becomes a dicey or dangerous situation. Yes I know that sometimes getting off the road isn’t fun and it is easy to twist an ankle or knee, but it is a lot better than getting hit by a vehicle.

So runners while there are crazy/stupid drivers out there, from what I have seen there are also a few crazy/stupid runners, who create unsafe conditions on the road as well. I believe that most of us have experienced both.

My tips for running safely in areas where there is traffic and only dirt, grass or ditches on the shoulder are:
  • Run facing traffic. You want to be able to see what might be coming at you.
  • Don’t be arrogant and think you own the road. Just because YOU happen to be running don’t believe that you have the right of way in all situations – YOU don’t.
  • Be aware of traffic – you can hear them or see their lights on the telephone wires a long time before you see a vehicle.
  • Visibility can the driver see you? Are you wearing bright colors that contrast with the surrounding area, is it dawn, dusk or night time while you are running? Are you carrying a light of some kind?
  • Be aware of the traffic coming up on you from behind (especially in a passing zone), a car might be passing another and take the piece of road you are running on. Remember to listen for traffic behind you as well as in front of you.
  • Know where you are and areas that could be dangerous for drivers (i.e. hills, corners, driveways, etc.). Be proactive in these areas for your own safety and don’t endanger others.
  • Road conditions and weather can make a difference in how drivers and you react while on the road.
  • If running with a group on a busy road go single file in areas with a lot of traffic or areas where sudden vehicle confrontations might happen without warning - danger zones
  • If you are running with headphones on have the volume turned way down. A better idea when running in these areas is not to wear your headphones or music.

It also doesn’t hurt to wave a quick thank you to the vehicles that do go out around you – as a simple courtesy. Who knows they might be more willing to give up some of the road to you or some other runner again next time, if they see us as being courteous to them?

Be proactive about your possible encounters with vehicles – if you notice a vehicle, tractor trailer or dump truck coming towards you and it isn’t moving over, don’t force the issue. Get off the damn road for your own safety. There maybe a vehicle that you can’t hear coming from the other direction.

The reality is that

Runners really need to think about where and what they are doing while running, especially where road shoulders or sidewalks are non-existent.

I don’t mean to sound like I am bashing runners, because I definitely am one and run on the roads a lot. At the same time runners need to be aware of situations that they sometimes put themselves and yes, vehicles into when running in traffic.

If we all think back, it isn’t always the vehicle’s fault for the confrontation we have had. What could you have have done differently, before the situation occurred. Would it have been easier to have stepped 3 feet into the dirt shoulder or ditch and then resumed your run, rather than forcing an unsafe condition to happen and reacting with the middle finger wave if you survived it? I think many times this could be the case.

The bottom-line is that in a car/runner collision everyone looses, but the runner is the one that will most likely end up in the hospital or morgue, if they are hit by a vehicle.

I know that when I am driving, I don't want to hit anyone and have their injuries or death on my conscience and I don't think you do either.

Keep running, but run safely and be aware of where you are.

Have you encountered runners being inconsiderate when you are driving?


  1. Between a vehicle and a walker/runner, vehicle>runner/walker.
    I miss you on WordPress since I can "like" and comment easier, but I do enjoy what you've done with your blog here, so keep it going, please. :-)

  2. WordPress does have a few thing that I like better than Blogger, but my overall experience is better over here. I plan to keep writing for as long as I can, moving all these posts from my old blogs to Blogger has been fun and although it is a lot of time/work it making realize how much I do like to blog - wherever it is hosted :-)

  3. I am constantly annoyed at drivers, often for not paying attention to what is happening, for only looking left before turning right, for so many still using their phones, for not giving space when they can, and so on.

    But I never pretend that I am going to go head-to-head with them ... heck I don't do that when I am driving, and having two teenagers who I taught largely by having them drive themselves to school with me as passenger really reminds me of all of the ups and downs of drivers!

    But I would rather be annoyed and alive than correct and injured/dead.

    1. Believe me Mike I agree with your sentiments, especially those that are texting and driving (still see so many doing it when I am running = scary as hell sometimes) and then you get the redneck boys with their trucks, who wanna play chicken with a scrawny runner. I am a bit red around the edges and drive a truck, but jeez give us runners a break okay.

      However, more and more I see runners being just as rude and uncaring about where they are running and how it impacts someone else.

      I just thought that I would give a look at the problems runners can cause and how we need to pay attention to where we are when we encounter a vehicle, sometimes it ain't just "them drivers" that are the problem.

      However, when it comes right down to it, that metal monster is going to make mincemeat out of that scrawny runner, if they decide that they really want to get into a pissing contest with a vehicle. So yeah, I agree, if it comes down to it I would rather give the vehicle the extra room or stop running for a bit to let them go by safely than become a statistic or have a long interruption of my training. :-)

      Or worse being the driver, who has done everything right and hit or killed a runner by running over them, because they did something stupid. That is something that I would have a difficult time living with.

      There is a certain disdain evidenced by both drivers and runners and when you have to share the road, it seems a lot like politics in today's world, no one wants to compromise or give a little, even if it makes things better for everyone.

      Common decency and common sense are becoming a missing bit of the fabric in our communities far too often. Yeah I am getting to a bit of a cynical old coot, about things and this is just another area where I am seeing this type of crap behavior more and more.

  4. Totally agree - and I think we discussed some runner pet peeves in your 'quick rant' last week. Over my two runs this weekend I saw (a) biker on the wrong side of the road (b) side-by-side runners on a busy road (same pair as usual) and (c) someone walking a dog with one of those expandable leashes on a different busy road and not keeping the dog close (and getting annoyed when someone who was trying to drive had the audacity to honk when the dog was in the middle of the road ... naturally the walker was on her phone).

    We had issues with a group of kids back on our road in Massachusetts (by kids I mean elementary school) ... and until two years ago thought we were free of that here until a family became the 'no discipline' focal point for every 8-12 year old in our neighborhood to scamper in and out of the road ... a real problem since the house is at the bottom of a hill and intersection of 3 (small) roads. I think driving past that house on a Saturday afternoon scared my boys learning to drive more than parallel parking and 3-point turns! :)


I moderate all comments and I apologize for using word verification, but the spam levels are ridiculous if I do not.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.