Friday, January 30, 2015

Be Careful or Be Roadkill

In one of my favorite "Calvin and Hobbes" comic story lines, Calvin is making a poster about traffic safety and it trying to come up with a contest-winning slogan. When he asks his dad for ideas, he dad tells him, "Cyclists have a right to the road too you polluting maniacs! I hope gas goes up to eight bucks a gallon!"

 As someone who does a fair amount of driving, I don't begrudge drivers. Maybe if I lived further south where I could bike to work all year I'd be a little more anti-car. However, with cars generally being the fastest, most convenient way to get places around the twin cities (sorry public transit--it still takes an hour to go 15 miles in many places), I won't stop driving anytime soon.

I do, however, get annoyed at drivers who pay no attention to people on the sidewalks. The biggest transgressors are those who habitually roll through stop signs, fail to check the crosswalk when turning right at a red light, or people who make a left hand turn without checking for pedestrians.

The running gods, however, seem to smile down on runners for the most part. Of all my running friends, I don't know any who have been seriously injured by a car while running (biking, however, is a different story).

You can't count on cars to see you. Running, especially around traffic, means keeping your head up. Don't assume people will stop for you in an intersection. Also, remember that driving puts people in a heightened sense of alert, and some people will act aggressively when they feel wronged. A couple summers ago as I was doing a workout and running at a decent clip, a car rolled through a stop sign right in front of me.

It may not have been the best decision, but I decided to smack the side of the little grey crossover-station wagon thing as I swerved to run behind it. The driver did not take kindly to my action. He slammed on his brakes, backed up so he had a clear view of me (sure, then he was out of the crosswalk), and began to shout colorful things as me such as, "come over here and I'll kick your ass!"

Not knowing how brain damaged he was or if he was packing heat, I decided to continue my run rather than turn around and confront the mouth-breathing poor driver.

Calvin ends up going with his own slogan on his traffic poster of, "Be careful or be roadkill." As much as I wish drivers would be more conscientious, avoiding becoming roadkill is up to runners because in collision between a runner and a car, the car always wins (with perhaps the exception of Smart Cars).

Happy Running!

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