Happy Healthy Me
Attention joggers: Turn down the earphones & carry an ID (it could save yourlife)
A few weeks ago in Dallas, a woman jogging on the Katy Trail, a popular pedestrian and cycling trail that runs through Uptown Dallas, was hit by a cyclist. She was wearing earphones and didn’t hear the cyclist announce she was “on the left” and she turned into her path. She died three days later of trauma to the head. Her family donated her organs. She was 28 years old.
This is disturbing and sad for many reasons, but more so to me because I am from Dallas, I ran/walked on the trail many times each week before I moved to Houston (and still go back when I visit), and I run with earphones. I even recently bought noise-reducing earphones that stay in my ear better. I am also close to her age, went to a nearby high school, and went to the same university, but I didn’t know her.
Since the accident, I have been reading the comments in the stories from Dallas news outlets, and many people blame the Katy Trail for being so congested, blame cyclists for going too fast with pedestrians sharing the space, and blame her for wearing earphones.
All of those probably contributed to the accident, but she isn’t the only person who has ever worn earphones during a crowded hour while running outside. Many others in the comments posted stories of how they have tripped over too-long dog leashes, run into roller bladders, or run into people not paying attention.
The Katy Trail is definitely congested with dogs, joggers, bikes, strollers, and casual walkers with Starbucks cups in hand. It is sometimes hard to be a jogger and pass all these interferences, much less a speedy cyclist trying to get down the path.
Being from Dallas and now living in Houston where I run or walk through neighborhoods or at local park paths, I am thankful that both the Memorial Loop and Rice Loop don’t allow cyclists. The Katy Trail has two sides (a soft pavement for walkers and hard concrete for cyclists/joggers) to encourage pedestrians to stay out of the way, but it does not extend the whole length of the trail or go over the many bridges. If I were a cyclist, I don’t think I would want to bike there because of the congestion, and it’s only 3.5 miles long. That makes for a lot of back and forth or zig-zagging through city streets to get a long ride in.
White Rock Lake is nearby and more conducive to cycling, along with bike paths throughout the city. Lady Bird Lake in Austin is similar to The Katy Trail with a narrow path that is shared, but they are lucky that there haven’t been serious accidents yet.
Besides knowing the importance of being aware of your surroundings, it has made me remember that it’s probably not smart that I don’t run with a phone or identification. There are bracelets called Road IDs or joggers pin a piece of paper to their clothing or shoes, or at least leave a map/route open on the computer screen. I don’t do any of these, and I probably should.
As usual, the only good thing that comes from an accident like is it brings our attention to weak spots. Hopefully the Katy Trail will start addressing crowding, but this accident could probably happen on any street where someone forgets to look over his or her shoulder. Think about cities in the Northeast with walkers and cyclists sharing tight spaces.
I know that I’ll continue to exercise with earphones, but I’ll start to turn down the volume, and make myself carry identification.
Marci Gilbert writes a daily food and fitness blog at www.marcigilbert.com