Cars vs. runners

Unless you live in a federal wilderness area, you have plenty of experience sharing the roads with cars. I’ve been fortunate in never having a close call, though I was witness to one.

I was once running with a track teammate, and he insisted on crossing an intersection against a red light. When we reached the traffic island in the middle, a line of cars in the left turn lane blocked our view. I stopped to look for oncoming cars, but my teammate continued. A car was sailing through the intersection, and I screamed out.

My warning wouldn’t have mattered – he was already crossing. The car skidded, and fortunately for my friend, stopped just short of striking him.

I often run at night which of course increases the danger of being hit. Turning cars are the biggest hazard. I always head check for right-turning vehicles before crossing a busy intersection. I’ve had drivers turn just in front of me, requiring me to abruptly stop.

Sometimes when cars take a right out of a parking lot, the driver checks left for traffic, but not right for pedestrians. Some drivers give me an apologetic wave after turning into the street and noticing me waiting there.

Making eye contact is the way to avoid accidents, but some cars have such dark tinting, it’s impossible. In this situation, a waiting game ensues until it’s apparent the driver sees you and is waiting for you to go.

Though I’ve never been hit by a car, I’m a recovering victim of another type of violence cars inflict on runners. And I think there are many other victims out there. It can be a winter day with heavy snow that is melting or a springtime downpour. When a car whizzes past and throws cold slush or a wall of water on me, the shock, trauma and helplessness is debilitating. By the time I reach home, immediate medical attention is necessary. Warm soup, a thick blanket and my favorite TV show usually eases symptoms.

2 thoughts on “Cars vs. runners

  1. My husband is not normally frustrated by runners on the road. A few races back he got downright discouraged by all the newbie runners and some old hats. So this was his rant on the subject.

    Husband:
    What’s the difference between cows and runners?
    Cows are smart enough to move out of the way of cars!

    What the hell is wrong with these people? They run/walk/crawl four abreast in the middle of the road while both directions of traffic are trying their damndest to drive through a pack of runners without killing them. But they really don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about that because they will continue to run in the middle of the lane as though my hitting them with my car will be a welcome relief from their stupidity and pain.
    It’s called cross-country for a reason, jackasses! Move your bony ass off the pavement and get on the dirt, the grass and rocks and rubble. That’s how the Kenyans do it back home and they kick your asses every single time. Why do you think that is? Maybe it’s because they don’t have to suck in the exhaust of a car that takes half an hour to drive past you freakin’ road hogs!

    What? You don’t see us? You don’t hear us? You’re in “the zone”?!! You bet your ass you’re in the zone, you spandexed, marble-baggin’, dryweavers. You’re in the driving zone blocking two lanes of traffic completely oblivious to the stress these drivers are enduring trying not to have a bloodied corpse for a hood ornament! You don’t see me driving my 4×4, hogging up two lanes during a track meet do you?
    Is it that freakin’ complicated to drag your lumbering little butt to the side of the road and let cars through without worrying that their side mirror is going to whack you upside your ignorant little head?
    Next time I see your little orange cones in the middle of the road that read “runners on road” I’m going to switch out the signs with some of my own that say:
    “cars on road because there’s no doggoned alternative, you jackasses- so trudge your Nike cross-trainer wearing keisters over to the shoulder so cars can use the friggin’ road as the good lord intended”.
    (yeah, that seems a bit wordy in retrospect. But they move slow enough to read the whole thing)
    Look. I’m a reasonable man. I’m willing to slow down whenever those horse-patooties at the water stations do those dumb-ass hand gestures indicating “slow down”. I already slow down without those rocket scientists speaking to me in their native tongue. I’m willing to wait to turn into a parking lot until there’s a break in the pack. I’m willing to drive down the middle of the road to give you runners a wide berth and to turn off my car rather than idling as you pass. I go out of my way to accommodate to you special-needs children who think you’re the center of the universe. But that doesn’t mean you’re the center of the gat-danged road.
    MOVE OVER!

    Me:
    Yes…. I did explain to him that if we are in the “zone” we do not hear, speak, think, see, anything. Even our precious music becomes background noise.
    (He being a non-runner just can’t grasp that concept).

    • I know exactly what your husband means. In a race situation you assume the course is prioritized for runners, or if not, you’re too focused on the race to consider cars. And even when you’re with a group of runners on a training run, there’s conversation, maybe you know a car is coming, maybe not, but the social interaction is too involved to make car-avoiding a priority, and you assume the driver will make accommodations.

      Should drivers accept that runners rule the road? I don’t think so. But maybe 1.5% of the time, on weekends and holidays, they can accept the burden of being a little extra patient before laying on the horn.

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