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Cross roads

We all know that safely negotiating the roads is step one for successful urban running. Some drivers are less likely to spot a runner than a cyclist. For runners, traffic awareness is vital.

But what’s your approach to negotiating the roads safely? In particular, what’s your junction etiquette? This is a recurrent source of disagreement between me and my partner.

When I’m on a run and I see a car on the main road signalling to turn at the time I’ll be arriving at the turning then, if necessary, I give way. I slow down/stop so they can turn, as you would if you were walking. The alternative is for the car to brake late, stop on the main road and wave you across. That often happens, even when I have clearly stopped to allow the driver to turn.

When that happens it drives me nuts. I know the driver is being considerate. But there is a risk that the drivers behind assume that the lead car is just braking to turn. Braking to a near halt on the main road, for something that the cars behind may not have spotted, seems to me to be risky. On a number of occasions I’ve watched the lead car almost get rear-ended.

My partner thinks there’s no problem. It’s right that the drivers should let runners cross. But then she’s not a driver and has never had to study the Highway Code. Although, to be honest, studying the Highway Code wouldn’t be a great help because it has nothing to say about runners.

It’s not clear to me what the right approach to this is. How do you deal with it?

Reader Comments (4)

Highway code rule 170 "... watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way"

So if you're walking you have right of way (in theory anyway), although as a runner I think you should expect that car drivers aren't going to have seen you, better to stop and let a car pass than get run over / cause an accident due to sudden braking. I sort of expect that running doesn't count as being a pedestrian if you run out into a road. (Although pedestrian may describe my running).
26/2/2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike W
I agree that it is clear for pedestrians. If you've not started crossing then wait. If you're already crossing then you have priority (at least in theory, as you say). But it isn't obvious that this applies equally to running.

I do as you describe. But you find that even if you've stopped on the pavement cars will still stop for you. Which isn't typically what happens if you're a pedestrian. So I don't think it's clear.

There is a section on pedestrians in the Highway Code. And there is a section about horses and one about motorised wheelchairs. These are no doubt important, but it is likely that there are more runners than either of them on the streets most days of the week. But as far as I am aware they don't get mentioned.
26/2/2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Marsh
Another point from the Highway Code that should be mentioned is that generally you should never wave or flash a pedestrian across the road, due to the risk they get turned into strawberry jam by a car coming up the other lane.

If there is a rule for the runner, it should be: make a decision early, and if you decide to let the driver across, make sure they know it before you reach the corner, which will save all the "after you" "I insist" business. I generally make a show of slowing down and shaking out my limbs - usually does the trick.

Cars driving into the back of you is another issue entirely. They should always be far enough behind that they can avoid crashing even if the car in front does a total emergency stop. As for crashing into someone who is already indicating and slowing down, that would take a complete moron. Obviously some people are complete morons, but that's why the law is that in a rear-end collision the driver at the back is always at fault.
27/2/2012 | Unregistered CommenterSam B
Think we probably agree. I just felt I should post a reply to point out what the highway code says about turning into a road, as a lot of drivers do drive as if they have right of way over pedestrians in that situation even though they don't. I tend to avoid the more busy routes and, as you suggest, slow down to avoid arriving at a junction at the same time as a car to avoid the issue arising.
27/2/2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike W

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