Photo: Joel Vosburg

With over 80 per cent of Canadians living in urban areas, our nation’s downtown streets still see many running shoes. Time constraints, routine, can compel us to opt for city loops. The problem: the energy of the traffic and bustle also presents a running hazard. With that in mind, we have assembled five important tips that will help keep you safe no matter how far you’re running.

1) Use bone conduction headphones

We get it, you love your tunes. But city traffic and plugged ears make for a bad combination. If you are listening to music, consider bone-conduction headphones like AfterShokz. Their technology delivers high-quality sound via vibrations through your cheekbones, and leaves your ears open to hear your surroundings. This way, you can roll through your playlist while being aware of approaching vehicles, and while making conversation if you are running in a group (which you should – see tip 2).

2) Run in a group

When running with friends, you are nearly indestructible. A group with ten legs rather than two will elicit more attention from oncoming drivers and ensure you are seen. That being said, be respectful of your fellow commuters when you are running in a large group and refrain from populating the entire sidewalk. Try to run in snake-like formation when passing crowded areas.

3) Know your route

Create a safe route (well-lit with multiple access points), and do your best to learn its ins and outs. Take note of where people congregate, and give those areas a wide berth. Learn where the traffic moves fast, and which crosswalks are hard for drivers to see. And, NEVER assume you have the right of way. Disclaimer: no matter how well you know your route, be aware of new developments like construction sites that create new traffic flows, the landscape of a city changes quickly.

4) Visibility, visibility, visibility

Wherever you run, make sure people can see you. Run during the day whenever possible. If you run at night, wear reflective gear (yes, it is worth the extra weight) fluorescent bands, jackets, and headlamps all work well.

5) Avoid workouts & run easy

Planning a tempo run in the city is a recipe for disaster. Aside from being at the mercy of traffic light, incoming pedestrian clusters, you risk putting yourself in dangerous situations. Get too caught up in pace, and before you know it, you are racing at yellow lights and dodging traffic. Save your workout runs for a day when you can make it to the track, trail, or park.


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