By Ryan Bourdo, DPT

Fellow Oregonians, the time has come again (for the last time?!) for daylight savings to come to an end. And for those with the fortitude to brave the darkness during their runs, there are a few things that Rose City Physical Therapy would like to share to keep you as safe as possible. 

Last year, nearly 6,283 pedestrians were involved with traffic fatalities in the United States, a 3.4% increase from the year before. And while programs like Vision Zero can help reduce these fatalities, there is still plenty that runners can do to protect themselves during these sunless days and wet glaring weather we contend with in the Pacific Northwest.

Here are a few general principles to keep you safe:

Stay Defensive

A great approach to running in the dark is to stay on the defense: assume drivers cannot see you and always be aware of your surroundings. For example, running against traffic will allow you to know where cars are in relation to you. If you are crossing at a stop sign, go behind a stopped car, or wait for them to drive on. Finding long stretches of flat road will also allow you to see other pedestrians or motor vehicles ahead of time. And speaking of roads….

Find a good route

Stick to well lit streets that are easily accessible to pedestrians. But where can you find such a Shangri La you ask? Luckily in Portland, there is almost 70 miles of roadway specifically for pedestrians and cyclists with the Neighborhood Greenways initiative. And the City of Portland also provides a map of these streets! 

Stay Reflective/Get Lit

But running defensively in safer areas is only half of the solution! The other half is having the best gear to stay visible. Our good friends at Fleet Feet made this great video on different products they recommend. Our neighborhood Fleet Feet PDX in the Slabtown neighborhood of Northwest Portland also have some great items:

Another great option are these affordable reflective strips you can attach to your extremities.  

Run with friends!

What better than one set of eyes and ears? More! Get a friend and run together to keep both of you safe. Portland has plenty of running groups going on all year round to join with friends or meet new friends with similar interests 

Run with music?

Keep the volume low or wear only one earbud to allow you to tune in to sounds on the road easier.

These are some tips on how to stay safe out there on your runs. See and be seen. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us. Have fun and stay safe out there!

Check out our Runner’s Safety Infographic Below!

About the Author

Ryan Bourdo completed his undergraduate education at the University of Oregon and received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. He is an avid runner and enjoys treating runners of all skills and ability. He believes in treating the whole person and creating an environment that best enables the body to heal through exercise and manual therapy.

November is National Runners Safety Month. The days in the Pacific NW are getting short; the nights long – and wet. This calls for poor visibility on the roadways. And with the necessity of work that occupies most people’s day, many of us run early in the morning before work, or in the evening after work – in the dark.

Our friends at Brooks Running have put together a nice infographic and BROOKS mnemonic to help you out. It’s not so much runner’s not seeing that creates accident threat; more so, it’s runners who are not seen by motorists.

Be Seen Be Heard

Be Safe

  • Run during the daytime if possible
  • Run with a partner
  • Tell someone your planned route and time of return…and stick to it
  • Run against traffic
  • Run in a lit and well-populated pedestrian area, which Portland has numerous options:
  • Run with mace pepper spray…it is legal in Oregon
  • Run without music…or if music is a must, wear only one ear bud to keep it easier to hear your surroundings
  • Wear a Road ID or carry another form of ID
  • Run with your cell phone
    • Be sure to have C.E. (In Case of Emergency) contacts set in your phone and turn on the Medical ID option for emergency contact access by fire and police
    • We recommend a slim line waist belt phone carrier (uFashionC3, fitTek) or arm band (Senbor) strap. Do not carry it in your hand as this offsets normal efficient arm carriage during the running cycle as well as creates a habit to keep looking at your phone and increases the risk of tripping and distraction.
    • Have your phones GPS turned on so you can be tracked
    • If you have an advanced technology sport watch, many have an option to sync GPS tracking from the phone to a website and app to track your metrics. Give a trusted source access to this website or app in case it’s necessary to track your whereabouts.
  • Don’t run the same route time after time
  • Wear reflective gear and lights (see Be Seen below)

Be Seen

Products we recommend must be easy to don, low profile, fit snugly without being too tight, and need to be lightweight. Thanks to technological advances, there are numerous products that fit this bill.

Now you don’t need to go out and purchase all these items and run weighted down by all the gadgets as well as look like a lit up Christmas tree. But choose a few. Think top (head), middle (torso and arms) and bottom (legs) of the body. The top and middle afford options for most visible gear; but there is something to be said about reflective ankle bands not being missed when car lights reflect off them as a runner is grinding through their strides.

Our favorites include:

Gear up and go run. Be Safe! Be Seen!