PSA: Be Safe!

Alyson Felix

I love winter training. Definitely much prefer it over battling the heat in the summer. You may modify the type of exercise you do in the winter, perhaps your goals change, but if you, like me, like to train outdoors, you definitely need to take the time of day you train into consideration once the clocks go back to ring in winter. Often we like to just crack on as usual, but being safe and most importantly, visible is crucial at this time of year.

In London last week, six cyclists lost their lives on the roads. The reason I’m writing this post is because a reader emailed me saying she almost rode into a runner on her cycle commute home as he darted out of nowhere, wearing dark clothing and she just didn’t see him. Whether you’re a runner or cyclist, now is the time of year that you really need to up your safety game. The first step in this is to acknowledge the fact that people really just can’t see you. It’s dark out there people! We all make the mistake of thinking that because we can see ourselves and we’re aware of what we’re doing, where we’re moving, everyone else around us will be too. WRONG.

The number of cyclists I see out at night wearing all black, no helmet and with no lights on their bike is actually astonishing. They must not like their lives. That kind of stupidity is basically begging for an accident to happen. With city cycling especially, weaving in and out of traffic etc – buses, trucks, big vans just can’t see you. Runners are equally guilty of this. Don’t think that just because we’re on the pavement, we’re safe. Ninja runners (as I call them) wearing all black, dart out into traffic, cross roads when it’s unsafe. Again, just because you know where you’re going, doesn’t mean everyone can see you.

I don’t care how uncool you think it is, LIGHT YOURSELF UP LIKE A CHRISTMAS TREE! If you’re out on a bike at this time of year, a fluorescent jacket is a no-brainer. Big, bright, flashing lights on your bike are an absolute must. Ask if you can test them out in the shop to see how bright they are. A light on the back of your helmet is also useful. But really, I say whack some fluoro anywhere you can on your body. It may not look cool, but that’s really not the goal here – getting you from A to B in one piece is.

Runners, same deal. Wearing a fluorescent jacket should also be a must for us in winter and be sensible about the way you run. Don’t dart across roads or run in the street. Everyone knows I love my 6am runs but about a month ago, I got up, stepped outside to do it and the sheer darkness really scared me. 6am runs are on hold for me until the mornings get a little brighter. I’ve changed the time of day I run. I also adapt my routes slightly at this time of year so I stick primarily to main roads. It’s great if you can run with a friend or in a group. Trust me, I hate the idea of modifying my behaviour as a woman because there are some crazies around who may want to do something stupid to us, but alas, these are the times we live in. Better safe than randomly attacked and all that.

Winter training is awesome and you can get so much out of it, but please people – stay safe out there.

Comments
11 Responses to “PSA: Be Safe!”
  1. Elle says:

    I started cycle commuting a few weeks ago and I do not care what I look like…I wear a helmet, got my lights and a high vis waistcoat (in pink of course). I also don’t weave anywhere and cycle at a leisurely speed…never being in a hurry. I see sooooo many cyclists, pedestrians and drivers doing things that could result in serious injury but I can’t do anything for them. I just take no risks and keep my wits about me…and pray that everyone around me is trying…

  2. Kat says:

    I’ve been cycling to work since September and it’s pretty disconcerting travelling in the dark. Same as you, Elle, I always see cyclists dressed in dark clothes, no lights, weaving between traffic and onto the pavement then back on to the road. I make sure I’m bright and shiny – who wouldn’t want to look like a Christmas tree!?!

    Keep safe everyone!

  3. Chloe says:

    Thanks Bangs! If I can’t see you, I can’t cycle round you, and if you can’t see me, I can’t expect you to know where I am either. Bright lights (I prefer flashes as they’re easier to depict as moving objects), high vis jacket with reflectors, my trainers have fluro on them, and I have stealth tape all over my very yellow rucksack, here’s the thing- nothing clever about a broken leg or death, and nothing stops you training like being hit by a bus/cyclist….

  4. Scallywag says:

    I’m not a cyclist but this is another excellent video to consider: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzL0Kyk4m-8 How hard it is for lorries to actually see people. As a runner, I have a fluorescent neck/head thing but could use a full body thing too!

  5. Claire says:

    Dog walkers are the same btw, they think they are invincible and don’t need to wear reflective gear.

    My Mamma B has been running for years but now more than ever I worry about her. For her Christmas I’ve bought her LED shoelaces, she wears a fluro vest and I’m also looking for a wee LED clip to go on her hat =)

    • Jasmine says:

      That is such a good idea as a present for a loved one! I was at the Brighton Marathon training day on Sunday and Saucony had these little LED light clip ons which you can buy and charge via USB cable… worth googling!

  6. Stevie says:

    Just had my fluro, hi-vis running jacket delivered today. Running during the week has been on hold until it arrived. Also have full helmet, lights and hi-vis gear for cycling, don’t want to give anyone the ‘I just didn’t see you excuse’. Really tempted to get some of those lights that light up your whole wheels too.

  7. Melanie says:

    Great PSA!

    As a runner, cyclist and regular car driver I get to see all sides of the story. We have to be accountable for our own safety and not make assumptions about another person’s ability to see us, be it car driver, fellow runner/cyclist or pedestrian.

    I also completely agree with remembering to respect the roads and pavements and to not make silly decisions about where to run/cycle, stop or start and take short cuts.

  8. Christine says:

    I completely agree! As I say this, I realise that most of my running clothing for winter is black…I get hot quickly, even in the winter, so I’m thinking those flourescent straps for round the ankles and wrists will work best for me. I also have a headlamp for when I want to go into the forest, but I reserve those outings for when my boyfriend can be arsed to come with me.
    I have to say, Switzerland is great for winter running. There is a huge hill near where I live, the Uetliberg, and there is a lit route going up to the top. There is also a 750m wood chip track part way up it, fully lit too. Having said that, and although Switzerland is fairly safe, I still don’t take my chances – no uphill running unless I have someone with me or unless I go during my lunch break.

  9. Laura says:

    Very important message – good job!!! I try very hard to stay visible – I’m currently have the Nike Allover Flash jacket on my “wish list” – I want to be a little bobbing light at the side of the road!!!!

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