One of the best things about urban living is the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle by being able to walk most places. Whether that means going for a run after work or making your daily commute by foot, even a little bit of movement can go a long way. Whichever way you decide to get your steps in for the day, it is important to do so safely when navigating the city as a pedestrian. Below are a few tips for working out safely in a large city.
1. Follow The Rules Of The Road
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this is the top walking tip to promote pedestrian safety. Pedestrians should walk or run on sidewalks whenever they are available. Also, walk facing traffic and as far from oncoming vehicles as possible if there are no sidewalks. The law requires pedestrians to cross the street at crosswalks where drivers are expecting to see people crossing. As your mother or father always said when you were a kid, look both ways before stepping into the street, including the areas where vehicles may be turning onto the street.
Following the rules of the road allows pedestrians to be predictable to oncoming traffic. As an individual living in a busy city, it is vital to know your rights as a pedestrian to ensure you are being safe when getting your heart rate up around town. Following the rules of the road can lower the chances of a pedestrian accident occurring.
2. Stay Alert At All Times
It can be easy to get distracted by your running playlist or murder mystery podcast when working out, but it is extra important to be aware of your surroundings when doing so downtown. Looking down at your phone can cause you to not see a traffic light change or a car turning onto the road you are about to cross.
If you are going for a jog or walk, wear headphones and set a playlist to avoid unnecessary glances down at your device. Keeping your volume at a reasonable level will also allow you to hear oncoming traffic or emergency vehicles that may be en route where you are exercising. Lack of concentration is one of the five mistakes people make during their walking exercises and can lead to accidents when you are in a high traffic area.
3. Never Assume A Driver Sees You
We have all seen a walk sign light up and almost instinctively start crossing the street without looking for cars trying to speed through before the crowd starts crossing. This immediate jumpstart onto the street is even more likely when you are in the zone during a run and eager to keep your pace going. But you should never assume a driver sees you crossing the road.
One way to make sure a driver sees you crossing the street is to make eye contact with him or her as you start to cross. First, this will ensure that the driver acknowledges you, and second, acts as a signal that you may not safely start crossing.
Another way to avoid an accident from not being seen is to watch for drivers with blind spots. Always keep an eye out for vehicles that are entering or exiting an alley or driveway, or backing up onto the street. These drivers may not be able to see traffic signs as well or see where pedestrians are crossing the street. After all, we all know what happens when you assume…no one wins.
Additionally, try wearing bright clothing so that you stand out to drivers in high traffic areas. Try to avoid working out at night due to the lack of light and the increased chance drivers will not see you crossing the road. But if you decide to work out in the evening, always wear at least one piece of reflective clothing or run with a flashlight of some kind to increase your visibility to drivers.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a full-time commitment that should not be compromised because of where you live. Living in a city has so many benefits and safely working out should be on that list. As long as you are vigilant during your runs or walks, aware of your surroundings, intentional when you start to cross the road, and confident that you are seen by oncoming drivers, working out in a city can be done in a safe way.