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Proper etiquette and safety for running in winter

A guide to rules and unwritten rules that come with running in winter

Woman jogging along road in winter

Runners are often forgotten about on the roads. Walkers get the sidewalk, bikers get the bike lane and cars usually stick to the road. Every runner could probably attest to being yelled or honked at by the public while running in each lane, so where should runners run? And what is the proper etiquette for running in the winter?

Here is an unwritten guide that runners should follow in the winter to guarantee their safety and the safety of others

1. Always run facing traffic

This rule checks both safety and etiquette. If you’re running in an area that doesn’t have a sidewalk, always run on the left side of the road, facing traffic. If you are running with traffic, you cannot see what’s coming your way. This rule gives you the ability to see approaching vehicles. If there’s is an incident where a vehicle is travelling quickly or too close, you can move off to the side of the road.

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2. Be mindful of other pedestrians 

If there are pedestrians on the sidewalks, give them plenty of space when passing. Runners don’t own the sidewalks, and the last thing a grumpy individual wants in the middle of the winter is for you to accidentally elbow them when you pass.

3. Wait for drivers to see you

If you are running toward someone who’s backing out of their driveway or crossing the street when a driver is turning right – make sure the driver knows you are there, wave or raise your hand and if need be, stop and wait until they see you, then proceed. When vehicles collide with runners, they tend to win the battle every time.

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3a. Wear reflective gear 

Night Running Gear
Photo: Adam Wojtkowiak.

Related to the previous point, make sure you aren’t running against traffic while wearing all-dark clothing with no reflectivity. You aren’t doing yourself any favours if you run in the dark without reflectivity. You can purchase reflective lights or belts for running in the dark at your local running store.