Any way you look at it, the popularity of running and cycling as exercise is growing across the country. Marathons, triathlons, casual runs, and bike treks are events anyone can participate in and it’s a great way to stay active and have some fun! Of course, as more and more people are running and cycling, we’re starting to see more safety awareness for runners and cyclists alike. Along with watching out for vehicular traffic, runners and cyclists also need to be aware of possible assaults if they’re in a high crime area.
Here, we’ll discuss some of the strategies and products you can use to help remain safe while you’re cycling or running in various areas. These could be key to helping keep you safe as youbegin to run and cycle more -- especially in places you’re unfamiliar with.
Running & Cycling Defensively
If you remember your driving education courses, you’ll likely remember the phrase “defensive driving.” It literally means driving in a defensive way that recognizes other cars may not be driving as safely as you are. This means you need to watch for their changes in speed and direction, and adjust accordingly.
The same goes with dealing with cars while you’re on foot or on a bike. Yes, the pedestrian usually has the right away, but that doesn’t mean cars will always see you or that they’ll be driving safely. If you’re cycling on a busy street, conditions become even more dangerous. You can’t always assume that a driver can see you, and that’s why you need to do everything you can to make your presence known like: use common hand signals to indicate where you’re turning, wear bright clothes, and be aware of drivers and your level of visibility to them.
This defensive running and cycling also applies to other runners, cyclists, and pedestrians. Cyclists need to be aware of runners on popular trails, and runners need to respect cyclists as well. A great way to help keep everyone safe is to call out “on your left” or “on your right”before passing the person in front of you.
Along with defensive biking and running, there are several items and strategies you can utilize to help remain safe while exercising. Let’s start with what to wear.
Reflective clothing is always recommended (especially at night) and you’ll want to make sure that you have a piece of reflective cloth on all different sides of you and/or your bike. Cars should be able to see you from behind, or facing forward. You might even consider adding reflective strips to your arms and your legs. There’s no such thing as too much reflective wear.
If you’re already into running or cycling, you’re likely always equipped with an iPod or mp3 player strapped to your arm. While music can be enjoyable during a workout, it can also be dangerous if played too loud. Proximity hearing is crucial to your safe exercising routine. If you can’t hear what’s going on around you, it’s very possible that you might miss a warning honk or cars that are coming up close behind you.
Next, we’re going to discuss an item that can help to fend off dangerous assailants orharassers should the scenario occur. Along with replacement laces, replacement tires, and all the water bottles and gadgets that you can find at any running or biking store, you might want to incorporate something a bit stranger into your gear list: a small can of mace spray. Hopefully you’ll never be presented with an occasion to use this, but you never know what might happen along your journey. This small, light can is a great prevention tool for those who might run into some unpleasant individuals.
Where you decide to run or bike matters! Do you feel more comfortable cycling in a traffic-heavy area or one with more pedestrians? Are you heading out on a sidewalk or the road? What about high crime areas as opposed to relatively safe areas? These factors should change your outlook, and should help you to identify the best route before you leave the house.
At nighttime, it’s best to make your route on very well lit streets. When you plan out your route beforehand—plotting those well lit, non-busy streets—tell your spouse, significant other or roommate precisely where you’ll be. Always tell someone when and where you’ll be running or cycling as well as how far and how long. Now, the most ideal scenario is that you never bike or run alone. However, if you do choose to go alone, make sure you tell someone where you’ll be.
The bottom line is that you always need to think about your personal safety while biking and running. Many people forget about the dangers that might lie ahead of them because biking and running is inherently so simple in and of itself. Before you leave the house, take 15-minutes to really evaluate what you can and should protect. So, what can you prepare beforehand?