Do ‘aggressive’ runners need separate zones to pedestrians?

Are aggressive runners causing problems on city streets? Picture: Pexels
Are aggressive runners causing problems on city streets? Picture: Pexels
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A video showing a runner pushing a pedestrian into the path of a bus has sparked a debate over ‘runners’ rage’ and whether or not separate zones are needed.

The woman wasn’t seriously injured, but the viral clip has led to a discussion about joggers displaying aggression and who really deserves priority on the pavements.

Sangita Myska, a reporter with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, spoke to runners and asked them about the ‘rules’ for joggers and pedestrians.

One runner said that while the clip was ‘terrible’, there was no particular ‘etiquette’ aside from ‘pedestrians first’, adding: “Kids might jump out, people might jump out, you just go around them or slow down or go in the road.”

One woman claimed that it was ‘no surprise’ to see ‘aggressive’ runners, adding: “Running and militancy kind of, you know, go together, don’t they?”

Another person said: “I have encountered very serious runners who will not change their route for anyone, I think because they’re trying to get a particular time or personal best, even in training.

“They just won’t move so you see them coming and you realise you have to move.”

Another man, who said he had come across some ‘fierce runners’ in his time, added: “There was a lorry parked on the pavement - they were digging up the pavement - and there was only a narrow strip, and he kept running towards me.

“I’m visually impaired; I’m registered blind. He bumped into me - but he came off worse because I shoved him back.”

Back in the studio, Martin Right, a member of the Highgate Harriers Athletics Club and Julie Bindel, a ‘writer and journalist who hates joggers’ debated the issue further.

Ms Bindel said: “As a walker - someone who walks my dog most days - I find that sometimes - and it is particularly - male runners, will not divert at all from their path.

“Big, muscly six-foot tall men, who are going very fast and who just jog quite aggressively and irritatingly on the spot waiting for me to move - and I’ve had my dog kicked and I’ve had to leap out of the way sometimes.

“Of course, it’s not all joggers. But definitely a lot.”

Mr Right added: “People do get in ‘the zone’ when they’re running, and there are times when you do take on a running persona.

“When I’m running, people walking four abreast across my path, dog-walkers in particular... you get your running head on and suddenly you feel some sort of running ‘anger’ towards these people that you wouldn’t feel normally.

“Now, that’s absurd, but Julie’s absolutely right: there is a sense in which, when people are running, they’re running fast - there’s a practical issue of people being in your way.

“But in this case, this woman was walking towards this man and he seems to have veered across her path and physically pushed her into the path of a bus which is, I think, different.”

Asked for a solution, Ms Bindel said: “It’s very different in the city to runners I’ve seen in the countryside.

“But when people are out walking and somebody is coming at you at a speed, and showing their clear irritation that you’re in their way, it’s not right.

“It’s exactly like pedestrians on the pavement when cyclists decide that they’re going to take their bicycle off the road where they should be.

“So I think that runners should have their designated spots, and we should give priority to that, and that we shouldn’t be pushed out of the way under any circumstances.”

Mr Right responded: “I think Julie makes a good point about running tracks and running clubs. They are safe spaces where you know that running fast can be dangerous, and there is etiquette on the track.

“People get out of each other’s way, they know when people are running that it can be dangerous - particularly if people are wearing spikes.

“There are other fabulous ways of running - the whole parkrun phenomenon, where people are running in parks and they know to get out of the way of pedestrians - they are told specifically that dog-walkers and other members of the community have priority. There is a simple etiquette to follow.

“I think there is a huge, huge capacity out here for people to run in beautiful ways, whether with their eyes closed or with others. There are these amazing charities out there that help homeless people with running, there’s a charity called GoodGym that does good works while running - we’re not all bad people.”

But some runners need to tone down the aggression, according to Ms Bindel, who said: “‘Lycra Louts’ definitely mar my day on a regular basis and I just wish they would take that look of irritation off their faces when I’m just trying to go about my business.”