There are countless stories about pedestrians (and it seems particularly prevalent in Delaware) who are hit and injured or killed each year.
I’m not really sure how to write this month’s column. I know what I’m going to write about, and I’ve been hoping for the past week or so that the words would just tumble out. But I’m not there yet. I want to write about safety – the act of taking care of yourself while you are out walking, running, biking, or simply crossing the street.
Most area runners will know of the incident that has prompted me to contemplate this article. It happened very recently to someone who was out simply doing the act that we all do regularly. He was running, hit by not one but two cars, and is now gone. He was 24. There is no blame here, there is no finger-pointing, and I’m only speaking to each of us, rather, imploring each of us, to start practicing safety as a priority.
There are countless stories about pedestrians (and it seems particularly prevalent in Delaware) who are hit and injured or killed each year. There are loads of stories of cyclists and close calls, drive-by’s and even hit-and-runs. Then there are the freak stories of animal encounters either in the wilderness, in the city or along some country lane.
I run fairly regularly at Lums Pond. I can get to the entrance of the park in less than six minutes and, once there, run trails to my heart’s content. I can also access the Castle Trail along the C&D Canal (and do, fairly regularly). My office is a mere half-mile jog from Carousel Park. I’m pretty lucky to have good access to off-road options. But we all aren’t that lucky, nor do I always heed my own safety call. Even these places aren’t 100 percent “safe.”
Running, walking, biking, hiking – they all offer us a sense of freedom and mobility to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. And with that freedom, we often also check our sensibilities at the main gate. I have been on the trails past dark, with no flashlight. Not too “bright” of me, eh. But that sensibility to think about safety, even on a trail run at dusk, isn’t always in our forethought. It should be.
I’m a cross country and track coach. I recently asked my runners if they wore reflective vests, or if they even owned one. None of them did. Now all of them at least have one. Why? Safety! Recently, the Delaware Running Company started handing out hundreds of free flashy clip-on lights (they probably have a real name, but I call them flashy clip-on lights). Why? Safety. And I’ve known people who routinely run with mace and/or a whistle and/or a partner. Why? Safety.
It’s time we collectively stop assuming drivers see us or we can outrun the German Shepherd that just got loose or the thug who wants our cell phone or the rays of the sun. It’s time we start minimizing the chances that we, too, could end up not returning from our evening 5 or our weekend pedal. Safety.
So please, think safety. Think which side of the road (SIDE, not middle) we should be on. Think about running with others more frequently. Think about sun block even in the morning or evening hours. Think about reflective gear and flashy clip-on lights. Think about the safest route and about telling others where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Think about crossing AT the cross walk and waiting for the green, even if it costs you a minute or more off your super speedy run.
Hmmmm, guess the words did find their way out after all.
And as always and for a long time, I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails….
Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.