Warning: This is probably the biggest rant I’ve gone on for a while, and I’ll tell you before you even start that I’m furious right now. And this is after I’ve had a chance to calm down a bit. Imagine how bad I would have been wihtout that.
I’ve started trying to run more consistently again this spring, and today was a day I wanted to get out and run before lunch. I was still late getting out, so I wound up finishing my run about 12:30. My run began and ended on our two-lane road, which has no sidewalks. I have a half mile to get to the main road where, praise God, they built sidewalks last fall. From there, I can fun for miles without resorting to the nearly-nonexistant shoulder on my street. (I’m not kidding. There’s a white line painted there, but it’s a mere 4-6″ from the grass, which has, on most of the part I ran on today, a nice drop-off into a culvert. There’s also a bridge I run over (still no sidewalk, but a good 2′ shoulder there), which goes over a major Interstate highway.
On my way up and down the hill, I’m careful to stay off to the side as much as I can, but I depend on cars to be paying attention to what’s going on around them. I need them to notice me, slow down, and move over. And, yes, that means that the drivers are going to need to cross the double-solid yellow lines in the middle of the street. (Honestly, who was passing on our little backstreet that they felt the need to put these down? They go all the way up the road!) And if there’s a car coming from the opposite direction, those drivers need to STOP until they can move over for the runner on the road.
Today, on the way down the street, one car slowed a little bit, but didn’t budge to the side. She came close enough that I could have touched the side of her car; the reason she did so was because there was a car coming from the opposite direction. I was walking at the time, and fresh out of the house, so I was only mildly annoyed about it. I went about my run and got a little more than 1.5 miles away before I turned around.
At this point, I started feeling a little yucky. I’d waited too long to start running, and the temperature was up to 80º. Plus, I was getting hungry, so I was feeling a little woozy and lightheaded. Although I managed to run for short spurts, it was a lot of walking the second half of the 5K today. And a lot of that is uphill, so hooray for my legs! [/sarc]
I took a short cut through a retirement community’s outer driveways to get back to my own street, so when I got there, I had only .4 miles left to go. And, let’s face it, I was walking that whole thing. My legs were getting really angry at me, and I was feeling super thirsty and hungry by this point. I knew I was a red-faced, dripping mess.
Enter the people picking their kids up from the half-day of school! In this last part of my run, I was nearly hit by no fewer than 5 cars and a SCHOOL BUS, none of whom would stop completely when given the choice between that and continuing to drive down the street. I could have touched any one of the cars that nearly ran me off the road.
So let me sum up for drivers everywhere:
If you are driving on a road without sidewalks, and coming at you are both a pedestrian (or runner – especially the runner) and another vehicle, you need to slow down. If you can’t move WAY over to give the pedestrian a berth of about 3-4 feet, STOP YOUR FREAKING CAR AND WAIT FOR THE OTHER VEHICLE TO PASS. You do not have the right of way. You do not have the right to drive within 10 inches of a runner. The runner does NOT have to venture off into the grass, potentially wrenching her ankle. YOU MUST STOP AND WAIT YOUR TURN. And if there are five cars in a line coming at you at the same time as a runner, then just SIT YOUR ASS STILL for the entire 20 seconds it’ll take the runner to get past your car SO YOU DON’T HIT HER! A runner passing a stationary car that’s 10 inches away is VASTLY different than a runner passing a MOVING VEHICLE that is 10 inches away. One scenario involves control for the runner, the other puts the runner in a situation where their safety is nowhere in her control.
Please, be safe on the roads, and drive carefully around runners!