Safety First

October 6, 2009 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment


If you are like me, people have been telling you to be careful your entire life.  And you probably tell them the same.  Sometimes I think about these words and other times I don’t.  But today the threat that faces us as runners and cyclist each time we walk out our doors hit me once again.

I cyclist friend in San Antonio forwarded information on a memorial being held for a husband and wife who were killed last week while riding their tandem bike.  I easily found newspaper reports from the incident and felt that numb shock reading a story that could have happened to any cyclist.

Next I received a newsletter from For Beginners Only, discussing how hybrid cars at slow speeds are almost impossible to hear.  Manufacturers are looking for ways to add noise so those around the car are more aware of its presence, but for now there are an increasing number of potentially silent cars cruising a neighborhood near you.

I have always felt the threat of the road more when cycling than running, but the truth is any athlete on the roads is vulnerable to motorist.  People are talking on their cell phones, interacting by passengers, trying to multitask.  We must be careful and alert, watching our surroundings and terrain throughout each workout.

These are the safety tips I try to follow for my activities and there are many other great tips online.

1. Leave a map. I make sure my family always knows where I am running and when I will be home.

2. Bring an ID and a little cash.  Better yet, check out an ID bracelet.

3. Ditch the headphones.  If you can’t handle running without music, choose an mp3 player that has a built-in speaker.  This will allow you to hear both the music and your surroundings.

4. Drive new routes before you run or cycle: A road may look great on a map, but in person it can be filled with potholes or overwhelmed by traffic.  A quick spin will let you know if this route is safe.

5. Mix it up. For boredom and safety, mix up your workout schedule and routes.

6. Assume motorist don’t see you.  I do a lot of waving when I run.  It sounds cheesy, but I want to make sure a parked car sees me before I cross in front of them.

7. Wear bright colors in all conditions.  Reflective clothing and lights are critical for earlier morning and twilight, but make sense all the time.

8. Stay alert.  Don’t zone out while pushing through the miles. Keep your eyes on the road and your surroundings at all times.

9. Run with a friend. The more people in the group, the more likely you are to be seen.

10. Hit the park. If you can’t find good riding conditions near you or just to avoid hazardous roads on rainy days, hit a local park, golf course or the gym.

I know I can do more to be safe when running and cycling, and when driving too.  Take care and stay alert.

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