For years, I ran away from home almost every day.
I was a jogger. If you jog, you don’t need a reservation at a tennis court or a golf course or a swimming pool. You don’t need a partner or a team. All you need is a decent pair of shoes, ugly shorts and a T-shirt with some silly slogan on it.
You just go out the door of your own home and run around the neighborhood, looking a bit strange, to be sure, but promoting your health in ways that are necessary in an era where most of us no longer have heavy physical jobs.
A person looks strangest of all if he’s dead, if he doesn’t exercise and turns toes up from the lack of huffing, puffing and sweating.
I did add a bicycle to that regimen for a while. That was when I encountered the natural clash between bicycle riders on the one hand and runners and walkers on the other.
I had noticed while running along community jogging and biking paths that bicycles, unknown to most of the people riding them, don’t make enough noise to be heard until they are right on top of a runner or a walker.
If you’re jogging or walking and you decide to move over to one side of the path without looking, and a bike comes along, it can wipe out all parties, on foot or on bike.
When I switched for a time to the bicycle, I copied a few alert cyclists who knew about the danger. They used to come up behind me on their bikes when I was running and call out, “Coming by” or “On your left.”
I did the same at first on my bike, but then I remembered those little musical bells we used to have on our bicycles as children. They attach to the handlebars and make a weird but cheery “Ring! Ring! Ring!” So I bought one. Better to be silly than mash a jogger while wiping out yourself.
Then one day while driving a car, an accident left me with a sore knee and a recommendation from a doctor that I give up jogging. The bicycle made the knee worse. That’s when I began walking for exercise and found that it strengthened the muscles around my knee, ending the pain. So now I walk all over town. But there’s a problem:
A few of the people aboard bicycles don’t know that a pedestrian can’t hear a bicycle coming until it’s too late – especially if they ride on the pedestrian sidewalk at speeds approaching 30 miles an hour, as some do.
I don’t blame them for avoiding the street. The alternative is for the cyclists to ride among the automobiles.
The sidewalk is posted with signs warning that bicycles and skateboards are forbidden, but the law is lightly enforced. And no wonder. I wouldn’t want to ride a bike – or least of all, a skateboard – in congested Main Street traffic. Bike riders and skateboarders have a right to live an unmangled life every bit as much as I do.
I propose a compromise: Let the bikers and skateboarders continue to use the sidewalks, providing they use a bell signaling walkers. And more of us will live to tell the tale if the wheelie people recognize that they are on a pedestrian pathway and should hold their speed below 10 miles an hour.
If not, it’s just a matter of time before I, and especially some of my less mobile fellow elders, become senior sidewalk hamburger.
If it comes to that, I’m going to wear a suit of armor and carry a lance.Contact columnist Bill Hall at email@example.com or 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.