Monday, August 30, 2010

email to the cross country running coaches a Boulder Creek High School

I live in Anthem and am both a runner and a cyclist. Now that school is back in session, I've noticed something that I would like to bring to your attention. In the morning, I often see school atheletes running in the bike lanes facing traffic, particularly going south along Gavilan Peak Parkway between Anthem Way and Memorial Drive. Many of us have been taught to walk facing traffic. However, this advice only applies in cases where there is no sidewalk. This is specifically addressed by Arizona law (ARS 28-796): "If sidewalks are provided a pedestrian shall not walk along and on an adjacent roadway". Given that I cannot think of any roadway in Anthem that doesn't have an adjacent sidewalk, I contend that nowhere in Anthem is it proper to run in the roadway.

I'd be happy to discuss with you the several reasons why I believe that if runners are going to violate this law and run in the roadway, it would be safer for them to run in the direction of the traffic. However, I doubt that the school wants to endorse illegal behavior. I think the most prudent thing, is to instruct runners to stay out of the road except while crossing at designated crosswalks. In defense of the runners, I have noticed that they do seem to pay particular attention to crossing Gavilan Peak Parkway using the traffic signals and crosswalks at Memorial Drive. This is very good!

I think the best strategy for all concerned is to look for running routes which capitalize upon the miles of off-street walks and trails in Anthem. I have spent many hours with Google Earth and other mapping software, studying the network of trails throughout Anthem and I have devised many routes of varying distances and surfaces (concrete, decomposed granite, dirt, etc). I would be happy to work with you and your team members to design routes which meet their training needs while discouraging the use of the roadway.

Unfortunately, many if not most of the adult runners that I see, are also misbehaving exactly as I have described. What I would like to see is a whole new generation of runners that understand why it is so dangerous for them to run in the roadway facing traffic. While we are at it, it might be good to make sure that if any of the students are also cyclists, they should understand that they DO belong in the roadway and NOT on the sidewalks. Traffic laws are for everyone's protection. Obeying them is in everyone's best interests. School is a good place to reinforce this.

Please feel free to call me at 623-326-3455 if I can help.

Thanks for your time,

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