There are so many people on my local town’s facebook group complaining about runners and cyclists not respecting distancing or about so many people being out walking when they wouldn’t usually. As a nascent runner I equally find the behaviour of other people out and about somewhat questionable. Not so much about giving each other space, but about the general rules of the road or pavement and common courtesy.
So here are some suggestions for etiquette we should use when exercising during lockdown.
1. Follow the highway code
The Highway Code recommendations for pedestrians say:
If there is no pavement, keep to the right-hand side of the road so that you can see oncoming traffic. You should take extra care and be prepared to walk in single file, especially on narrow roads or in poor light and keep close to the side of the road. It may be safer to cross the road well before a sharp right-hand bend so that oncoming traffic has a better chance of seeing you. Cross back after the bend.
See that, walk on the right. That means you’re facing oncoming traffic on your side of the road so you can see them and they can see you. The traffic coming from behind you is on the left, further away from you, so less likely to pass very close or hit you if they don’t see you and you don’t see them. This is especially important when you have head phones in. If you walk on the left, the cars on the same side of the road are coming from behind you – you can’t see them.
When lots of people are out walking and some are on the left and some on the right, running in the same direction is rather tricky, it turns into a slalom.
I lost count of the number of people walking or running on the left today. I assume they usually drive and they’re just maintaining the same location they’re used to. But it’s just not as safe.
2. Give way to those less mobile
If you’re walking on a path and there are people coming the other way or walking more slowly in the same direction who are less mobile than you – young children, older people, those with additional needs – don’t wait to see if they’re going to move. You take care and go out of your way to give them space. It might mean walking in longer grass or on rougher ground, but that’s easier for most of us than those others.
3. Don’t make someone going up hill stop
If you encounter a runner or cyclist going up hill, be kind to their legs and let them keep moving. Maybe they’ll need to slow down but don’t make them stop because we all know how hard it is to get going again running or biking up hill.
4. If in doubt, stop and step back
If the other person isn’t giving way, no matter who you think ought to be making space, you have to make it. Who cares about forcing someone else to do the right thing, standing your ground isn’t worth the risk.
5. Keep it friendly
Always, always exchange a hello and a thank you. Who knows, the person you’re passing might live alone and be out of work – that might be their one and only social interaction of the day. So above all, be friendly, kind and thoughtful.