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General Running

Running with or against traffic?

asked over 5 years ago | Report

I always learned that one should run against traffic and ride with it. Is this a matter of preference, convention, or law? I have seen runners in New Haven running both against and with.

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Thanks, all, for confirming what I thought I knew! I've been second-guessing myself because some drivers here in New Haven seem to get ticked off when they actually have to obey the speed limit and be aware of pedestrians! When I do have to run a stretch without sidewalk, I'll run against the traffic with confidence and caution.

38 answers

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  • I always run against traffic - it feels so much safer, because you can see the cars coming towards you. I'm not sure about the law, though. But you would think the law would be in line with what was safest!

    answered over 5 years ago |Report

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  • I remember from primary school you bike with, run and walk against.

    answered over 5 years ago |Report

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  • It depends on the road-I do both. On busy streets I run against traffic so I can see what's coming at me; on the residential streets where there's practically no traffic and the streets are really wide I do what's most convenient. I was also taught the "ride with traffic, walk against traffic" rule and I still don't quite understand it. If it's safer to walk against traffic because you can see what's coming, wouldn't it also be safer to ride against traffic for the same reason?

    answered over 5 years ago |Report

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  • I always bike with and run against. I've had WAY too many close shaves (been clipped on the shoulder by a side mirror a couple times) by traffic passing me when I used to run with traffic. Plus...I just don't trust drivers as much as I used to. With everyone having to text message and play with their GPS units and touch screen phones, I want to see where they're swerving when they're coming at me...that way I know which way to dive when they forget to look up for a minute! :)

    answered over 5 years ago |Report

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  • You need to run against traffic so that you can see what is coming. As Tanya said, of course, in a residential area with little traffic, it doesn't matter.

    answered over 5 years ago |Report

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  • Run against traffic always, no matter where you are and if at night wear a reflective led armband.

    A few months ago, around 5am I went for my morning jog around my neighborhood when I found the road blocked by the police, the officer told me to jog on the other side of the street, the side against traffic where I jog anyways, to my surprise, as I went down the road I saw a shoe and then it hit me, it was a fellow jogger who had been hit. I later read of his death on a blog, he was hit from the back and had no chance to avoid the oncoming car. I always remember it, every time I jog by.

    answered about 5 years ago |edited about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Nice thoughts. You have written quiet well.

    Rachel Kinker
    [url="http://www.trainwithmeonline.com"]workouts[/url]

    answered about 5 years ago |edited about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I run against traffic or on hiker biker trails where there is no traffic.

    I also use side walks but they kill my legs. But if that is the only safe place on my route I opt for the side walks.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I think I would be extremely nervous to run with traffic and not know what was coming up behind me!
    I always run against it. Always be aware of your surroundings.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Just confirming the consensus. Or use the sidewalk. :-)

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I have always wondered about Tanya's question about "why bike with traffic if walking against traffic is safer?" I believe the answer is because bikes have to obey traffic laws like cars. While it might seem safer from an individual rider's point of view to ride against traffic, I guess in the overall flow of traffic, it's unsafe.

    In California, the DMV specifically states "Bicycles riders (cyclists) on public streets have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers and are subject to the same rules and regulations as any other vehicle on the road."

    I don't know about Connecticut or anywhere else.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I want to see the car diving at me because the driver isn't paying attention. At least I have a few moments to get out of the way. So always run against traffic and ride with traffic because a bike is considered a moving vehicle like a car. Obey same laws as a car.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Good question. I have always wondered myself. I run against traffic and bike with.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I run against traffic. I want to see what is going to hit me. I bike with traffic.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I run on the left side of the road (against traffic), but on the right side of the trail... go figure.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • As Carl I. points outs, in California the DMV has specific language in the code describing the rights and responsibilities of both pedestrians (runners) and cyclists. In fact, the language for pedestrians makes it the law that a pedestrian must go against the flow of traffic, and use the left hand side of the road:

    "California Vehicle Code, Section 21956. (a) No pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her left-hand edge of the roadway."

    The vehicle code also prescribes that pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicles, which is a heck of a lot easier to do when you can see the vehicle coming at you and can tell yielding is necessary.

    Clearly we can't speak for other states, but I'd expect most if not all have similar protective language for pedestrians in their vehicle codes.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Run on trails and avoid traffic altogether.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I know the law treats bikes like cars, but it seems to me it would be SO much safer to follow the "against traffic" rule that runners do, especially in a rural area like mine where there isn't a tremendous amount of traffic on any road. The litmus test, to me is 1) are you definitely going at least as fast as the traffic around you, and 2) would you prevail against the other traffic in a collision. If you answer no to either one, you've no business trying to blend in to the motor vehicle traffic. Driving cars, we've probably all seen runners and cyclists holding up traffic, and that's where drivers make antsy decisions that are dangerous. Pedestrians (which I believe includes runners and cyclists) should have the right of way, but that doesn't mean it's actually going to happen. At least against traffic you can see what's coming and get out of the way. That's my opinion, only.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I run against traffic, but if I hit a one way street I stay very close to the sidewalk.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • In general, I run against traffic in the middle of day. I feel more comfortable when I can see the oncoming car. BUT because I run when the sun is setting, I am very careful about the glare during this time of day. The sun's glare in driver's eye sometimes makes it really hard for them see you and the opposite also holds true. When the glare is an issue, I invariably run on the sidewalk. Why risk it? If the glare is in my eyes I can't see the car and if the glare is in their eyes they can't see you.

    answered about 5 years ago |edited about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Running against you can see any oncoming cars and move if someone is driving like a dingbat. I'd be nervous as a cyclist though since they go with the flow. If I can I always move over a bit for them if no cars are coming at me. If there is a sidewalk though I will run on it. I try to stay off the road itself merely for safety. Crossing crosswalks in HI is dangerous enough. They have more pedestrian hits here than I have ever seen.

    answered about 5 years ago |edited about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Depends on the road that I'm running on. I will run with and agaist traffic due to there not being a shoulder on the road. I'm not sure how many close calls I have had but I do know when I have had a close call or two.....the driver knew about it. I always managed to hit the car or truck....never had anyone come after yet!!!

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • After speaking with a police officer in Ontario (whom is also a runner), she confirmed you should run against traffic so both drivers and runners are aware of what's coming at them. Cyclists however should always go with traffic.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • I wanted to chime in on something I didn't see covered in here. I run against the traffic - safety permitting - and bike against the traffic. The 'safety permitting' accounts for those circumstances where you may have to adjust the rule - like a setting sun in the eyes of the oncoming driver. Like most drivers, they might be focusing on the center line just to hold the lane, and not even see you. You've got to learn and be aware of these conditions and then adjust - move over for that stretch of the run - even if you have to stop and walk to be sure.

    The other situation not covered here where I flip the running against rule is when I am running a narrower two lane highway - country run or residential - where the road goes over a steep rise like a roller coaster. IF there is an oncoming car / driver - other side of the hill - the driver can NOT see you, and due to narrow road is probably hugging the inside so they don't stray over the center line while crossing the top - and run into an oncoming car from the opposite direction. Remember - narrower road - so no room for either car to quickly adjust.

    In this instance, running against the traffic while approaching the hill, I will eventually pick a spot on the hill, - LOOK back to ensure no car coming - and if safe, cross to the other side, so I can crest the hill going "with" the traffic - having been able to see / know what is behind me. Cars behind me can see me, can adjust / slow down, or I can leap to the side.

    The car possibly coming up over the crest on the other side - can NOT see me- and will have no room to adjust with the short crest.

    Thus, crossing to "with" traffic temporarily for this crest - is generally a more safe approach for me.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • I run on either as long as it's on the sidewalk. I don't wear headphones, and I have yet to have a car sneak up on me, though crosswalks make me nervous. The most important thing is to pay attention to every car and listen for cars coming in all directions. Don't zone out or drown out traffic; that's how people get hit while running.

    Oh, and I never run on the road itself. That seems too dangerous given how little attention people give to driving over their phones.

    answered over 3 years ago |edited over 3 years ago |Report

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  • Seems unanimous about running against, which I heartily agree with. I don't even trust quiet neighborhoods, that's where I've come closest to getting hit.
    As for bike, always with traffic. 1, it is the law in every state and you can and will be given traffic violation if caught. 2, it's safer. Runners are relatively low speed, if they can't get out of way of car, their speed running adds little to impact. Cyclists go 15-3pmph or more and if they hit car head on this tremendously increases force of impact. Cyclist going 15mph hitting car going 30mph head on is a 45mph impact. And rarely, even in residential area will you find car going that slow...

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • Run/walk against traffic I like to see what is coming at me.
    Ride with traffic bikes have to follow the same traffic laws as a vehicle in the state of Colorado

    In doing both I always try to make eye contact with the drivers especially at intersections

    answered over 3 years ago |edited over 3 years ago |Report

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  • I usually try to run AGAINST traffic- mainly so that I can see what drivers are doing. I've had cars slow down behind me and beside me in the past, and running against traffic seems to deter this as well as give me slightly more reaction time.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • I use David's technique. Always run against traffic except when going around a tight bend or running up a blind hill. I will always cross the road and run with traffic, until I have cleared that blind spot then cross back over to running against traffic. This is often due to the winding and hill filled country roads I run.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • Prevailing wisdom is to run against traffic, because that provides you with an opportunity to observe oncoming traffic and to take evasive action if necessary. Additionally, oncoming vehicles are more likely to spot you, if they can see the whites of your eyes. HOWEVER, common sense should always prevail and preservation of your life is of utmost importance, thus there are a few instances where you may wish to switch over to the other side, such as when approaching a blind turn or a blind hill, where running with traffic will provide far greater visibility for you and oncoming vehicles on your side! Be smart, stay safe and keep alive! :D I discuss this issue and other road running safety tips in a new article - http://www.adams-legal.com/Legal_Articles/Road-Running-Safety.html

    answered about 2 years ago |Report

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  • Hard to run against the bikes when there are bike lanes.

    answered about 2 years ago |Report

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  • Although this thread is 3 years old, why not chime in? So:

    I run against traffic whenever possible, unless it's a hot day and the only shadow is on the other side of the road.

    Also, whenever possible, I wave at the drivers coming at me, to remind them I'm there and to give me a little more breadth. I want them to think of me as a human being who sees them as well, not just an obstacle to avoid. If they give me a lot of space, or if it's a particularly big vehicle making room for me, I give them a thumbs-up too.

    That's about it!

    answered about 2 years ago |Report

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  • You're supposed to run against traffic so that you can see the cars coming and make sure they see you. The only time I run on the wrong side of the road is on hills where running against traffic a car is liable to pop the hill and hit me. I cross over and run with traffic until the top of the hill and then cross over. Another exception is if there are sidewalks. When running on a sidewalk I never care what side I'm on.

    answered about 2 years ago |Report

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  • I've always preferred going against the traffic so I feel I have some control, but this is an important safety issue that Is worth mentioning:

    When I'm crossing in front of a car waiting to pull out into the street, I always try to make eye contact to make sure the driver sees me. As a driver I always remember to look to the right before pulling out, but when you've been waiting 3-5 minutes for an opening in the traffic and you've got 1-2 seconds to make your move, glancing to the right to make sure there is no pedestrian traffic is an easy thing to forget.

    answered about 2 years ago |Report

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  • Always the left side of the road,so against traffic. Cyclist roll with traffic and obey traffic laws. it is actually the law in Texas to run against traffic (walkers/runners stay on left side) :0)

    answered about 2 years ago |edited about 2 years ago |Report

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  • It depends on which way the wind is blowing. I don't want to breath the exhaust fumes from the vehicles. I'm serious about my health.

    answered about 2 years ago |edited about 2 years ago |Report

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  • I run against.. I live in a rural area and people don't always expect to see someone running or biking and swerve at the last minute... I want to be able to get the heck out of the way if they aren't moving over. I have a part of my normal run where I will stop and get off the road and wait for traffic to go past (narrow and curvy back road) just use your best instinct/judgement when it comes to that kind of situation. I have had someone almost run me over when biking on the same route, so I break the law and bike against also...

    answered about 2 years ago |Report

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  • I always run against traffic. and i tend to give a wide birth when cars are coming...too many people texting and driving and not paying attention around here.

    answered about 2 years ago |Report

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