Letters to the EditorNews

Stay Out of the Road, Runners

“Are Athens’ Streets Safe Enough for Walkers and Cyclists?” [Mar. 13] is a well-written article, but it’s quite clear what the intent is:  to show how dangerous it is to be a pedestrian or cyclist on roadways that are made for automobiles (and certainly so in a town full of drunk drivers).

The Georgia Code [see O.C.G.A. § 40-6-96] clearly states that, in most instances, pedestrians (“persons standing, walking, jogging, running, or otherwise on foot”) must stay off of the roads and streets. Again, these roadways were made for automobiles: wheeled traffic. So, if a pedestrian is trying to cross the street where there is no crosswalk they are not only putting themselves at risk but are in violation of the law. If they are on the street for some other reason, and there is a vehicle within 300 meters or so, they are putting themselves at risk and in violation of the law. 

Many are the times I have been driving down my own street and have seen runners running down the middle of the roadway where there is clearly an available sidewalk. Aside from the fact that this is unlawful, it is dangerous, not only to the runner, but to the driver. One runner who was doing this banged on my car as I slowly and carefully passed, shouting, “Share the road! We pay taxes for it, too!” I’m sure this is true. However, we all pay taxes for the sidewalks as well, and I, for one, most certainly do not drive on the sidewalk.

In fact, John Huie makes a really good point of this in his article. This is part of what the article really seems to emphasize: that the streets are not safe, we need more pathways that are specifically laid out for pedestrians and cyclists, and there are a lot of drunk drivers out there. Surely, all three of these things are plain as day to most Athenians.

As Mr. Huie points out, things are slowly changing. Now, I have never been opposed to civil disobedience. It’s an old American tradition and a damn good one. But this is not the place for it. Walking and running in the middle of the streets and roads where large vehicles are traveling is nothing but dangerous. This is why the law doesn’t want you to do it. 

It’s not some kind of an oil company/automobile manufacturer conspiracy, although I’m quite sure that they are quite happy with the law as it stands. It’s just that right here, right now, we have to remain safe and healthy so we can keep pushing the lawmakers to build us some safe pathways for alternative modes of transportation. So, let’s be careful out there.