Town Square

Pedestrians on the bike boulevards

Original post made by bikeguy, South of Midtown, on May 4, 2007

I'm a daily bike commuter on the bike boulevards of Palo Alto. Every morning I pass numerous walkers and joggers, who walk or run right down the middle of the road, facing oncoming traffic. I certainly understand the attraction of early morning exercise, but could someone explain to me the advantage of using the middle of the road, rather than the perfectly good sidewalk? I understand, I suppose, if you are walking with a friend two-abreast - the sidewalk would limit your ability to swing your arms in a vigorous manner. But for solo runners/walkers? It's not a big issue, but I do find it a bit annoying to have to ride in the oncoming-traffic lane to avoid hitting these folks.


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Posted by Peter
a resident of Southgate
on May 4, 2007 at 7:38 am

Often the sidewalks are in such terrible shape because of tree-root heave and other problems that it's worth a runner's life to travel on's hard enough to walk sometimes. In addition, walking or running facing traffic is recommended for safety. Doing it in the middle of the road is probably caused either by thoughtless or the fact that it feels good to be on a road with no traffic.

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Posted by Lauren Burton
a resident of Downtown North
on May 4, 2007 at 7:53 am

When traffic is extremely light, such as before sunrise, I myself have been known to walk down the side or even the middle of the street. I do this because the sidewalks can be treacherous in the dark since they are often lifted inches by tree roots. Walking on the side of the street reduces the danger of tripping & falling, but the slope is so extreme that my body isn't balanced. Walking in the middle of the street provides a flat surface. Since the sun is not up yet and the traffic is extremely light, this does not seem to be a hazard to anyone.

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Posted by Walker
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 4, 2007 at 5:52 pm

When will our utility look for alternate sidewalk solutions? Concrete slab is dysfunctional.

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Posted by Runner
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 6, 2007 at 11:22 pm

A lot of runners run in the street because the concrete sidewalk is harder and therefore worse for your knees, ankles, etc. And yes, facing oncoming traffic is recommended for safety. I run in the street, but not right down the middle, and I always go up onto the sidewalk if there's a bike coming.