Assume You’re Invisible, Make Yourself Seen

Folks, this is a GREAT and very important guest post. It could save your life so don’t skip over it! A huge thanks to Mindy for writing it!

This summer I tragically lost a friend when she was hit by a distracted driver while on a run through the neighborhood. Her legs were crushed and she sustained severe brain injury – they took her off life support within a day. In trying to heal from this, I have decided to do something positive with this event by using it to bring attention to how important it is for us, as runners and walkers, to always watch out for ourselves. Hopefully, by passing along this advice, we keep the rest of our community safe on the streets!

Part 1: Assume You Are Invisible

· The only safe assumptions you can make are: No one sees you & no one will stop for you.

· Even if you have the right a way … don’t go until you make eye contact with the driver and the driver waves you on. If you are concerned about your pace and don’t want to stop, choose a route where you won’t cross a street.

· Run opposite traffic. That way you can see who is coming towards you and are able to move as needed.

Part 2: Make Yourself Seen

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As runners, we are not known for our fashion sense … embrace that! Wear bright colors and outfits that don’t match … STAND OUT! Kris says he’d rather have drivers laughing at his outfits but seeing him, than go unnoticed and have to dodge cars. (Kris would also like to point out that is NOT him in the picture.)

· When running in low light and at night – wear reflective gear and flashing lights. Draw attention to yourself. (Photo was taken with the flash from an iPhone- car headlights would illuminate me from a good distance away!)
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(This is an example of a great reflective vest you can find from www.ruseen.com)

Other Safety Tips:

· Stay off the streets as much as possible. If available, run on trails, canal paths, greenbelts … places where there aren’t cars.
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(Greenbelts are GREAT! There are usually a lot of people around – playing at the parks, running, walking, bike riding. They also normally have restrooms and water available at some point. And, most importantly – no motor traffic!)

· If you must run along a street – use the sidewalk and/or stay as far from the road as possible. I know people think it is better for you to run on the asphalt than on cement … studies show most of us will never notice this difference! It isn’t worth the risk! clip_image008

· As much as possible, run with a buddy … The more eyes you have scanning for trouble, the better. Plus, if anything were to happen – you have help!
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· Wear a RoadID

· Take a cell phone or at least tell someone where you are headed and when you should be back.
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(We found our love of trail running this summer. There is something very peaceful being out there! But, make sure you plan ahead – if you can’t go with someone; tell someone where you’ll be and when to expect you back! Also, carry a trail map or make sure you familiarize yourself with the area so you don’t get lost.)

· If you must run near the street – don’t wear earbuds! You want to have full use of all your senses. I can’t tell you the number of times Kris and I have scared runners while on our bikes because they had no idea we were coming their way even though we announced our presence. This is another reason to run opposite traffic and stay out of the street – most of the runners we encounter are running in the bike lane, with traffic – they then don’t hear us coming because they are listening to music and we have to put ourselves at risk by moving into the traffic lane. Cyclists and pedestrians should be working together to keep everyone safe!

If you remember nothing else, remember this: It doesn’t matter if you had the right a way … if you get into a battle with a car, the car will always win. I know it’s frustrating and there will be times you want to prove your point because drivers don’t always give us space and respect we deserve … IT’S NOT WORTH IT! Ultimately, when we hit the streets for a workout, our main goal should be to make it home safe!

Please be safe out there!

-Mindy
You can find Kris and me at www.raceeverystep.com or on twitter @raceeverystep

Comments

  1. First of all, I am very sorry for your loss. I hope you all find a way to heal from this. You bring up primo ideas. I never run with headphones just for what you have mentioned. You said it perfect – if a runner can’t hear a biker, they have no chance against a distracted driver in a car. I am going to repost your blog :)

    • Thanks for the nice comment and repost! I’m finding the best way to heal is to help others stay safe out there … so, thanks for helping the cause!

  2. Bridie Rist says:

    Great reminders. A woman in my town was killed several years ago when a tree fell on her while she was out running. I often wonder if she would have heard it in time to get out of the way if she hadn’t been listening to loud music. When I do wear earphones it is on the lowest setting so I can hear what’s going on around me.

    • Yikes – a tree fell on her?! That’s crazy!!! But, yes … possibly something that could have been avoided. It’s funny – a lot of us run to clear our heads and forget about things for a while – while it is great for that … we do need to stay aware enough that we make it home safe!

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. I am biking right now due to a running injury. Be seen applies to bikers too!! I use a strobing front light and red back light. I have had a couple of other bikers yell at me about the strobing. But here is my thought YOU SAW ME RIGHT!!! lol. I bike during the day not when it is dark so for them to say it hurt their eyes is ludicrus! I never assume anyone sees me. Great post!!! BTW I have that vest from ruseen. LOVE IT!

    • You are so correct! This is very true for cyclists – and any other pedestrians, for that matter! My husband and I ride a lot and on our RaceEveryStep blog we talk about other things that pertain to cycling and triathlon as well.

      I hope you heal from your running injury soon and I think you’ll find the biking to be a great asset to your running fitness! I took almost a year off of running and just did cycling … when I came back to running I was about 2 min/mile quicker and had a greater love for the sport!

      Thanks for the comment – yes, people can be crazy and you are doing the right thing! Good luck and stay safe!

  4. Excellent post!!!! Good reminders & tips…

    So sad to hear of your friend… that’s just tragic :(

  5. Thank you for the reminders! Great post to keep all of us out there safe.

  6. Road ID has an app now that allows you to send a text message to people if you are out running or biking. It sends the text with a map (ecrumb) of where you are and the start point. It also lets you set an idle alarm. If you are idle for more than 5 minutes it sends an emergency signal out to the person you originally notified.There also is a lock screen feature that people can see emergency information about you if your phone is locked. I run alone a lot and always use this when I am out. I made my coworker get it for when she bikes since her husband is in Canada for 6 months.
    Safety is important and sometimes I think we all take for granted that it couldn’t happen to us. Your post is a reminder that we all are vulnerable. Thanks for sharing.

    • Wow – thanks for sharing that information!!! Sounds like a lot of great features – I’m going to check it out!!!

      My husband likes to stalk me with ‘find my iPhone’. It’s a nice feature and works really well – but, he likes to try to ‘surprise’ me while I’m out on rides and runs. Boys! At least I know he knows where I am!!!

    • Thanks Karen for the suggestion – Road ID is downloading to my phone as I type this.

      And Mindy, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, but it really seems like you’re trying to make such a tragic event as positive as you can. I really hope many people read this post because it has so much useful and important safety information. Thanks for the reminders!

  7. Great post with lots of great info!! Wanted to say that RoadID also has an app on the iPhone now (don’t think it’s available on Android yet) and I would highly recommend that every runner that can get it, download it ASAP! It sends your route, in just about real-time, to your designated person (up to 5 people), will send an alert to your designated contact(s) if you are stationary for more than 5 minutes, and you can even set your ICE numbers on your lock screen, saving emergency personnel the time to dig through your contacts looking for it. It is an amazingly awesome app especially when you consider that it is FREE.

    • Thanks for sharing!! I was telling Karen that I’m going to go download that – sounds like there are a lot of great safety features! Anything that helps us get home safely is worth investing in (and, even better when it’s FREE!)!!

  8. Great tips! I am a big road runner and I’ve had a few close calls. One time I had to fall so that I didn’t get hit. I understand the tip of making eye contact. People are oblivious! I need to get a road Id immediately. I wish I could run on trails more where I live but there’s alot of wild animals and people are saying it isn’t safe.

    • yes – it continues to amaze me how oblivious people can be! I’m glad you are okay!!! RoadID for sure!

      Bummer about the trails and wild animals! Sometimes I wonder, though … I think I’d rather take my risk with some (definitely not all) of the wild animals we encounter over the drivers I’ve encountered … can’t decide which is worse?!?!

  9. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts! You have a great group of followers here and I have enjoyed being your guest blogger!!!

Mentioned elsewhere:

  1. Assume You’re Invisible, Make Yourself Seen

    Folks, this is a GREAT and very important guest post. It could save your life so don’t skip over it!

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