We all know that running is a great way of keeping fit, but within the urban landscape of towns and cities, the risk factor can increase, not from sporting injuries, but from runners choosing to mix with traffic.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Health approximately a third of all adults in Spain choose to perform some form of sporting activity in their spare time. Of the many sports on offer, running is becoming increasingly popular, but some 30% of those who defined themselves as runners practice their activity on the roads or pavements.
One of the biggest risks identified during running, not unlike driving, is distractions, and in particular due to a lack of special awareness caused by listening to music through headphones. Another risk, again similar to all road users, is that of visibility, with many runners choosing to take to the roads during the latter part of the day, but without wearing high visibility clothing.
However, it is possible for runners to move harmoniously through the streets, enjoying that urban landscape and improving their fitness at the same time. To that end, the DGT has published their top tips for runners, and for drivers, in the hope of reducing the risks.
Top Tips for Runners
If you run on the road always keep to the left hard shoulder, facing oncoming traffic.
If you run in the city remember that the pavement is designed for pedestrians to move at walking pace, therefore give plenty of room when passing pedestrians.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times; beware of vehicle access and egress points. Vehicles that leave garages for example usually anticipate the possibility of pedestrians, but not necessarily runners Anticipate these situations!
Be seen at all times, especially near junctions and crossings. Make sure it is safe to cross before you do so.
Wear reflective clothing, especially if you run during reduced light or bad weather conditions. If you wear sunglasses, make sure you take them off if the light begins to fade.
Beware of the surface beneath your feet. If it has been raining there may be slippy patches. However, dry ground can also be slippy when covered with loose rubble.
Beware of distractions! Do not wear headphones that isolate you from ambient noise: they prevent you from hearing what is happening around you, and do not use your mobile phone while running: it will distract you from traffic and its dangers.
At traffic lights, remember that even though you are running you are still a pedestrian. Press the button at the crossing if there is one, and wait for the green signal before crossing.
Be alert at all times. Towards the end of a run you may start to feel tired, which could lead to distractions.
Of course vehicle drivers also need to be alert. If you are a driver, be prepared for the unexpected. Reduce your speed and exercise extreme caution at pedestrian crossings or their vicinity, garage exits, junctions etc, and always be prepared to stop if needed. Make sure your vehicle is in prime condition, as you never do know when a surprise might arise and you need to stop quickly. Be prepared.