D.C. cyclists already have to navigate their way around vehicles whose drivers think bike lanes are the most convenient parking spaces. Should they also have to deal with joggers on these designated bike lanes who don’t want to snake through pedestrians on sidewalks?
That question was posed on the always zeitgeist-y D.C. subreddit channel, garnering a range of responses and outrage levels. Most seemed to think joggers should be relegated to the sidewalk, and at least one person used the question to take a jab at seemingly self-righteous cycling exceptionalists.
Legally, the answer in the District is a clear cut no. The District Department of Transportation, the ruler of municipal bike lanes, says these lanes are reserved for two-wheeled vehicles (take note, cars). And when a sidewalk is available, it is a illegal for anyone to walk or run on the bike lane. Rebels who do could be subject to a $10 fine, according to DDOT.
If a possible $10 fine doesn’t deter a committed jogger from running in a bike lane, then it’s really a question of etiquette and safety.
There’s no doubt that jogging in a bike lane is frustrating for cyclists. No jogger is going to run as fast as a cyclist and, so goes the narrative arc of traffic, if someone’s moving slower, it slows everyone down.
But, biker convenience and legalities aside, there are compelling arguments on both sides. D.C. sidewalks are often cracked and uneven — yes, the same can be said about some streets — and when they are crowded with pedestrians, the temptation to run through the typically smoother and open bike lanes is understandable. And a jogger could easily run into a cellphone distracted “deadwalker.”
On the other side, joggers, given that they are propelling themselves with their own legs, are just pedestrians moving at a faster pace (D.C. law agrees with this interpretation). It’s also arguably dangerous for joggers in bike lanes: Many of them are wearing headphones alongside cyclists, who aren’t typically expecting a jogger in their path. These are the ingredients for a painful collision.
This question of etiquette and safety of joggers in bike lanes isn’t unique to D.C. In 2012, Emily Leaman of Philadelphia Magazine weighed in, concluding that joggers and cyclists don’t belong in the same pathway.
I honestly don’t think bikers and pedestrians of any kind—even the fast moving ones—belong anywhere near each other. (I’ve alluded to the fact that mixed-use trails scare the business out of me.) In cities, that’s why God and the Department of Transportation created bike lanes and sidewalks: to keep one group away from the other.
Brian McEntree, the Gear Prudence bike etiquette columnist for Washington City Paper, also took a stab at addressing this conflict and wrote that while joggers in bike lanes are annoying, it’s really not that big a deal and cyclists should not let their “frustration overwhelm” them.
Yes, runners using bike lanes are annoying. No, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, they shouldn’t be there. No, you shouldn’t run them over. Yes, you could say, “Hey, don’t run here!” No, they won’t care. It’s not like they’re accidentally in the bike lane; it’s a pretty purposeful decision underlaid by various rationalizations ( “the sidewalk is too crowded,” or “the sidewalk is blocked,” or “the sidewalk hurts my knees,” etc.), similar to the thought process of all other non-bicyclists who ever find themselves advertently where they shouldn’t be.
So what do you think: Should cyclists jog in the bike lanes?http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/dc-bike-lanes/ab0f145e-536b-4c0d-9c98-e5f16d7b463b_pollEmbed?outputType=ssi