Thursday, September 23, 2010

After dark running safety

Occasionally I run at night, when it fits my schedule or weather conditions better than running earlier in the day. For example, I ran 4 miles last night after dark because that gave me time to digest a later than usual dinner.

When I run after dark, I choose light colored clothing and include reflective materials, if possible. I stick to main roads with more lighting. And I usually carry my cell phone in case of an emergency.

The same can be said when I ride my bike early in the morning or late at night, except that I also have some lights on my bike to help show motor vehicles where I am.

Due to the wonderful community of people who commute by bike, there is a lot of talk on the internet about bike safety in the dark. But I’ve found little discussion of night time (or early morning) running safety.

This could be due to the fact that runners can often choose routes with sidewalks or paths off of the streets themselves. But I still feel a need to be visible to cars turning across my path or coming up behind me. And it may be that male runners worry about this less, but I also try to be smart about who I might encounter out there alone.

How do you approach safety and visibility when running in the dark? Do you wear lights? Do you carry pepper spray? Do you have designated places that you can stop for help? Do you avoid remote, unpopulated areas or gravitate toward them?


  1. Great, I was entertained by the post. I learn more things on it. Thanks!!!

  2. My wife and usually leave the house for our morning runs about 5:30 am, so it's nice and dark. We run in subdivision neighborhoods where there is some street lighting, but it's not the best in the world. When we first started running together, she was awfully nervous about visibility and used something similar to this:

    I'm not sure if she's simply to the point where she's more confident now, or whether she's simply forgotten she used it, but she hasn't felt that need in a while.

    In reality, as runners, we see such a limited amount of traffic that time of day that we know a car is approaching long before the car knows we're there and can make sure we're safely out of it's way.

    Of more concern is the idea of a woman running alone. As much as you hate to harbor those thoughts, you can't be too careful. I can understand her trepidation and the scare she got from a car that was probably just innocently waiting in a nursing home parking lot for time to start their shift. My advice to any woman is to never isolate yourself if you're alone!

  3. In the evening I try to ride on the bike path and stay off the road. If I need to ride on the road, it's all about lights. Drivers aren't looking for cyclists after dark. It's really important to make your presence known so light your bike like a Christmas tree.

    As for evening runs, I stay where it's well populated and I leave the iPod at home. I live in a very safe city, but it makes sense to take a few precautions.

  4. This is a very nice post, so informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing such a great post.