Are Runners Becoming The Most Hated Road Users?

Headline news this week that a ‘jogger’ (why he wasn’t called a runner, I do not know), pushed a woman into the path of an oncoming bus. On purpose? It certainly looks like it.

It honestly looks horrendous, and having run over Putney Bridge plenty of times, it shocked me that this could happen there. It’s a hotspot for runners, training along the Thames Path, and I have only ever found other runners to be friendly and courteous.

On my run today, I was completing my 9+ miles along a different stretch of the Thames Path, near where we live, dodging the odd pedestrian and dog walker. An older lady was walking along the path towards me, so I dodged off the path out of her way, or so I thought. I felt a shove on my side and apologised, initially thinking I had misjudged me side-step to avoid her, before realising that she had gone out of her way to elbow me.

I have never experienced anything like that on my run before and was stunned.

I continued on my run, first angry, then bemused as to what I had done to aggravate this woman enough for her to try to hurt me. Luckily, my run was long enough that I was able to get back into my rhythm and enjoy the rest of my mileage. However, upon returning home, I instagrammed my encounter and was saddened to see that I wasn’t alone in my experience.

Are runners the most hated road users

Many people, men and women alike, reported being treated badly by other pavement/path users. Cyclists, dog walkers, people with their kids, commuters…it seemed like there was no one group targeting runners, but it was eyeopening how many people have dealt with horrible situations. And it seems like things this week might have hit an all time high.

Some of their experiences angered me, some scared me and some of them made me feel downright incredulous.

‘Was out running with my friend and we passed a group of “youths” who went to kick her as she passed. I literally roared at them in disgust.’

‘Cruel! A woman stepped in front of me and tripped me today- I rolled across the pavement & she STEPPED OVER ME?! What is wrong with people!? Glad it didn’t ruin your run! I nearly cried ?’ 

‘I’ve been attacked by dogs and nearly run over more times than I care to remember ?! Once a man who’s dog tried to bite me ran after me shouting!! ? ‘

‘I was canal running today and I had to give way to every cyclist. I ended up standing in the bushes and no one said thanks one even shoulder barged me! God knows what’s wrong with people!’

‘Usually i have no issues but I had a guy telling his dog to ‘get’ me last week and let him off the leash (luckily the dog was not interested) and i also had a wee boy kick a football at my feet a few weeks ago. I was moving at a snails pace so was able to stop myself falling x’

‘Had a similar thing today where I was forced onto the road by a group of adults who told me quite loudly pavement is for walkers not runners’

I’ve long listened to people complaining about cyclists on the roads, (and at time berated the foolhardy bikers riding three abreast near our house) and always been glad that I was a runner and didn’t have to deal with the sort of hatred that seems to occur between drivers and cyclists. Yet it seems that there is a similar aggression between pavement and path users against runners.

A couple of years ago it seemed like there was some commentary on the Jeremy Vine Show about the aggression of runners towards pedestrians, well now perhaps the aggression has flipped?

But what can we do about it? Other than being considerate road/pavement users, I really don’t know. I generally follow the below guidelines;

  • Don’t listen to music etc so loudly that you can’t hear other people.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, children (and in Henley, people with boats!)
  • If in doubt, give way.
  • Always be polite, apologise or say excuse me, and thank you if people do move aside.

It seems that a few runners are giving the rest of us a bad name, or perhaps it’s a stereotyping that we’ve been given as ‘militant’ and ‘lycra louts’. This article in the Scotsman does not paint us in a good light. However, it doesn’t share anything from the runners stand point, nor does it suggest how we can more harmoniously share space.

Wanting to leave this on a light note, I found this tongue in cheek secret ten-point guide given out to non-running pedestrians on RunBundle. ?

Have you ever had any bad experiences out on your runs? 

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13 Comments

  1. Hannah
    August 14, 2017 / 7:58 am

    I’ve had several similar experiences when running particularly with cyclists and walkers, I always stick to the left side of the path when running where as cyclists seem to go down the middle and walkers meander all over the path!

    • charlotte
      August 14, 2017 / 8:47 am

      Agreed- I actually think I’m much more aware when I’m running than when I’m walking!

  2. Simon Canning
    August 14, 2017 / 8:59 am

    When I say “mans inhumanity to man” take man to mean all. We seem so intolerant of each other on so many levels. Why that man chose to push that woman on Putney Bridge is completely beyond me (I keep hoping it’s some sort of camera angle issue but surely he knew he had taken her out and would have stopped which makes it intentional and vile behaviour).
    I regularly run and bike on trails that are meant for all users. I do my best to be respectful, slowing down, ensuring they are aware of me, saying hello and yet walkers (especially those with dogs) seem to behave as if they have more rights, rarely control their animals and never say hello back. Only yesterday I very nearly stepped on (tripped over) a dog scampering around and I know the owner had seen me.
    I will continue to be thoughtful and courteous to all in the hope that positivity might encourage people to be nicer. Sadly I think it’s a losing battle. Keep running all. Whether slow, fast, run walk, get out there and move. And be nice. Let’s start a runners are nice movement.

  3. Kathy
    August 14, 2017 / 11:38 am

    never had anything that malicious or nasty but when ever I go running in our local parks on a Sunday morning I am regularly (almost constantly) run off the path or stopped in my tracks by meandering dogs or children on bikes / scooters,which I understand is always going to happen but apologies would be nice. As a past dog owner and current mum of small wild boy I know you can’t always control where your dog or child goes but I do always try to get my son to look where he’s going / move him out of the way.. easier said than done when he’s on a mission but I try! And I always apologise if he does end up in someones way. Most people I come across just watch me coming and make no attempt to move. It’s a real shame as it stops me using the parks. Just good manners and common courtesy I think!

  4. August 14, 2017 / 12:31 pm

    ~sigh~ can’t we all get along? I run and cycle on the same paths and try to be a courteous cyclist and runner. I hate when cyclists that don’t signal but I also hate when runners don’t scootch over when I want to pass on my bike — and I don’t mean into the bushes (!) just out of the center of the lane! Still, rollerbladers are the worst because they skate from side to side ….

  5. August 14, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    Thankfully, I’ve only been invisible to cars and nearly hit a few times and honked and shouted at (although, some of those shouts were pretty darn rude). No one has ever actually touched me while I was running. That’s just crazy!

  6. August 15, 2017 / 10:41 am

    Glad she basically missed and didn’t make you fall. I try to run in the morning before the foot traffic gets heavy to avoid incidents that are caused when you have too many people without common courtesy and not enough space. I’m horrified by some of the incidents shared on your posts!

  7. August 17, 2017 / 1:54 am

    I’ve had some hostile behavior directed at me by pedestrians in the park who were coming at me walking four abreast and even though they saw me coming (and I tried to stay on the far right of the path to pass them) none of them would give me room to pass them ON the path, but I had to step into the street (on a tilted curb) to go around them. I was stunned.

  8. August 18, 2017 / 2:20 pm

    Like a lot of those who’ve commented already, I’ve also experienced some hostility towards me when I’ve been running, although, oddly it’s been mainly on tow paths.

    The Lake District has to be my number one location for out and out friendliness towards runners from others (runners, walkers and pedestrians).

    An active weekend in The Lakes will restore your faith in others!

  9. August 19, 2017 / 10:27 am

    I’ve experienced hostility on runs before from people, but equally I’ve experienced some lovely people as well. I was running on the trails a few weeks back where I managed to trip over my own foot (!) and carried on running after (the adrenaline was going so I barely felt any pain). I got to a stream just to wash my grazes, and a couple of lovely women came over to ask if I was okay. I’m really glad they asked, despite the fact I was fine – gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling that they cared enough to stop and ask!

    I don’t see why we can’t all get along. Yes, there are a few runners that ruin it for everybody, but out of all the times I’ve been out for a run, I’ve rarely experienced any negative experiences. If I do encounter a negative experience, I normally try and shrug it off – I do my best to be as courteous as possible on the roads, and I never let it ruin a good run!

  10. Abigail
    August 21, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    As a runner out on my own I’ve had a few scary moments including a van following me with its driver leering at me out of the window. I had to stop and tell him to f**k off to get him to go away.

    Although that was awful, what I find totally incomprehensible is some pedestrians attitude to disabled runners. I am a registered guide runner and run with visually impaired runners at least twice a week. We run side by side joined by a tether with hi-vis on saying “Guide” and “Blind Runner”. I appreciate that means we take up a lot more room on the pavement and we will run one in front and one behind to leave people space when we need to. I have had people look up and then deliberately move to get in our way which has involved some tricky guiding manoeuvres to keep the visually impaired person safe, though on one or two occasions we’ve ended up clattering into the person which is just dangerous for everyone involved. I just don’t get it.

  11. August 27, 2017 / 10:57 pm

    One of the most annoying things is when there is a group of people (honestly I’ve found mums with prams the worst) walking towards me, can see me, and don’t move at all. Like I will run right on the edge of the pathway to take up as little room as possible when passing people, yet so many will just stay where they are and take up the whole path. I usually just stay close to them as I squeeze past – why should I put myself in danger and go on the road when there’s plenty of space on the path?

  12. September 2, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    Yeah I saw the video too, it’s just sad we’ve gotten to that point.

    One thing I keep noticing though, there are jerks on both sides and I’m talking here from both perspective, as a runner and as a pedestrian and sometimes as a cyclist. For so many times I get to dodge pedestrians because they simply won’t make room for both of us on the sidewalk so I either stop to pass or run on the street for a few meters.

    On the other side, I see runners who would basically run into me shouldn’t I get my ass out the way. It’s just sad when all of this is happening. I believe both runners and pedestrians have rights to use the sidewalks and to treat politely others.

    I might just be an old school guy living in the age of lulz.

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