My running partner and I ran 22 miles in and around Rockland Lake on Sunday - along with trails, the run included a fair amount of roadway (in particular the roads that loop around the Lake, leading to the parking lots, picnic areas and the few residences that boarder the park).
It was during a portion of our road run that I was shocked to realize just how recklessly people have taken to driving around the lake. No less than 10 times during our run were we passed by vehicles speeding around turns, rushing past with seemingly no care towards anyone else using the road.
Had this been on a regular thoroughfare I might expect it, even be resigned to it. But the roads around the lake are known to be full of bicyclists, runners and walkers. Add to that the fact that the ring roads I'm speaking of lead nowhere but to other portions of the Lake or the exits - there is absolutely no reason to speed.
Sadly, you and I have no control over other people's idiocy. But we can (and should) take it upon ourselves to be as safe as possible when out on the roadways. For me, this means:
- Always run facing traffic. It's far easier to see something come at me than to hear it from behind.
- Always assume that drivers and bicyclists don't see me, and therefore I give them the right of way.
- Wear bright (godawful) clothing. As a New Yorker who is short and curvy, I love black. But being little, I also want to be seen. So when picking out my running gear, I gravitate towards brighter, more garish colors and prints.
- Carry I.D. - if you don't want to carry your license, check out RoadID. Mine is pink :)
- Carry money.
- Carry a cell phone. This used to be easier before I crossed over to the dark side of the Crackberry - I'm still trying to find a comfortable method to keep my phone with me.
- Loop courses for long runs. Particularly if I'm running alone, I prefer to run a loop course that brings me back to my car every hour or so.
- Tell someone. If I go out alone, I let someone know where I'm going and how long I expect to be.
- Always assume that everyone else is stupid.
Obviously, there is no accounting for chance. But it certainly doesn't hurt to be prepared.