Runners, Get Out of the Bike Lane!

This is your last warning.

bike lane runners

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A year and a half ago, when I raised the question, “Should Runners Use Bike Lanes Instead of Sidewalks?” I came to the well-reasoned conclusion that no, no they shouldn’t. I got there by politely laying out my argument: that runners taking up space in bike lanes are a safety hazard for runners, cyclists and drivers, and that since they’re called “bike lanes”—not “runner lanes”—they’re meant for the exclusive use of, well, bikes.

But in the 21 months since I first posed the question, I’ve seen no change in runners’ behavior. Like, at all. They still stride down the bike lanes like they own the joint, leaving cyclists and cars to squeeze by them in the traffic lanes meant for their exclusive use. So since my polite argument last January seems to have made zero impact, I wanted to bring it up again, Philly, but this time I’m not going to be polite about it.

Runners, hear me loud and clear: You have absolutely no place taking up space in a bike lane. I’ve found this behavior to be particularly rampant in the Pine Street bike lanes in the early evening. For the past week, I’ve been tallying the number of runners I’ve spotted along my Pine Street-commute stretch, and the grand total as of yesterday evening was 12. Twelve! That’s just in the nine-block length of my commute, from 19th to 10th, at a very specific time of day, so imagine how many other runners are in other bike lanes at other times of day.

Listen, I’m a runner, too, so I understand how tempting it can be when you’re on the sidewalk, dodging dog walkers and grandmas and oblivious moms with strollers, to see what looks like a free and clear travel lane not being used by anybody and to hop into it so you can stride out for a few blocks. But what you don’t notice when you dash into the bike lane without looking while wearing headphones and listening to your Super Awesome Running Mix, is that a cyclist (me! me! me!), who’s whizzing up the bike lane behind you, just had to jam on her brakes to avoid colliding with you and all your lycra. And behind her, there might be three or four other cyclists coming down the pike, who may also have to skid to a halt to avoid a pile up.

And then there’s the issue of running in the one-foot-wide buffer lane between the bike and driving lanes, which I’ve observed on two separate occasions in the past week. These runners, I presume, think they’re being a bit more courteous by running in the no man’s land between cars and bikes, but what they’re actually doing is shrinking the amount of space we all have between moving vehicles, while simultaneously putting themselves in the crosshairs should a collision happen. This is just stupid!

I have a suggestion: If you don’t like dodging people on the sidewalk, where you’re supposed to run, you have no business running in the city. Run on the Schuylkill Trail, hitch a ride out to the Wissahickon or, even better, to Valley Forge (just not right now, since it’s closed because of the government shut down). But don’t take up space in my bike lane. Period.

Consider this your second—and final—warning.