Jogging safety, especially for women, has become a major issue since the recent murders in the Northeastern United States. Karina Vetrano, 30 years old, was raped and murdered while out for a run on August 2, in Queens, New York. Vanessa Marcotte, only 27 years old, was killed while jogging in Princeton, Massachusetts, on August 7. These two cases are so similar that authorities are considering the possibility of a serial killer, according to News.com.au.
Ally Bruegger, a 31-year-old nurse, was also murdered as she jogged alone in Detroit, Michigan, on July 31 according to Breitbart. Is Ally yet another victim of a serial killer, or are these cases unrelated? Whether any of these cases are really connected or not, women do face dangers, other than the usual traffic concerns and other accident risks when jogging.
Should jogging safety be different for women than men? Should women be afraid to go out alone? Weighing what is really important to the run, against the risks involved, where and when should one run? Sarah Crouch of Runners Connect had an interesting take on the recent concerns.
“I’ve heard it a million times, mostly from my mother: “Never run alone, it’s a scary world out there for a woman, always carry pepper spray with you. On one hand, I resent this advice, because I feel that it takes feminism back 50 years, telling me I can’t go running by myself without a big strong protector (or a tiny painful protector in a can), and I want to be free to listen to the sound of my feet hitting a dark city street or feel the wind in my hair as I cruise alone down a secluded wooded path. On the other hand, I want to live to enjoy running at a nice old age.”
Jogging safety should not fly in the face of a woman’s right to move about freely, or sequester them in their homes. On the other hand, safety always comes first, so perhaps it is worth sacrificing a bit of freedom, or maybe it isn’t. It is a matter of personal choice. Jogging in pairs or groups may be safer in some ways, provided that joggers do not find it necessary to run abreast, making them harder for cars to avoid, or monopolizing a busy sidewalk. If a woman doesn’t want to give up their running solitude, though, they certainly should not have to.
Are women really seen as easy prey for rapists, murders, and muggers? Isn’t everyone, male or female, at some risk when alone in a deserted area? Does everyone have to give up their outdoor alone time? Only if they make that decision for themselves. The video below has safety tips for jogging. There are some great ideas and protective gadgets in this one.
Jogging safety should be the same for both men and women because anyone can be shot, mugged, or even raped. Anyone jogging alone or even in pairs should consider carrying pepper spray or perhaps even some sort of weapon if jogging in a remote or dangerous area. Better yet, if an area seems too dangerous, find somewhere safer to run. Also, for safety reasons, it is better to change your route rather than take the same path at the same time of day multiple times a week. It is too predictable.
Jogging safety has always been a matter of common sense rules. The rules are often ignored, though. Those rules involve things like avoiding traffic and paying attention to one’s surroundings. Wilderness walks and jogs have even more rules and should nearly always be undertaken in pairs or groups. Still, as many drivers can attest, joggers dart in front of cars once in a while or wear headphones that render them completely oblivious to traffic and their other surroundings.
Usually, when joggers ignore jogging safety rules, drivers stop or swerve, often without the jogger even acknowledging anything happened at all. Wilderness walkers can encounter snakes and other wildlife as well, but more often than not, these creatures also avoid human runners. Occasionally though, tragedy strikes. These injuries and deaths by vehicle or snakebite are far more common than serial killer murders but rarely gain public attention. Drivers have a responsibility to avoid pedestrians, but it isn’t sensible to count on their reflexes alone. Wild animals avoid human contact, but it doesn’t make sense to assume they will always be able to. Safety is a mutual responsibility. Stay safe, and that means yielding to cars and watching out for wildlife.
Jogging safety rules include staying off the road and sticking to the sidewalk or shoulder of the road. Walkers, joggers, and other pedestrians should try to walk on the side that is facing traffic as much as possible. Always look both ways three times before crossing the road, coming to a complete stop at the intersection. Pay attention when crossing driveways and alleys as well. Wear reflective or light colorful clothing if jogging at twilight, and avoid jogging at night.
Joggers should stop rather than cross the street without looking, or challenge an oncoming car for the right of way. While it is true that in general pedestrians have the right of way, in practice, from the pedestrian point of view, that does not even make sense. That rule is for drivers. Of course, everyone should yield to avoid an accident. That is the overall principle. It is better to wait. Also, common sense absolutely precludes the use of headphones, but do carry a cell phone for multiple reasons described in this jogging safety document.
Jogging safety should be taken as a whole, rather than divided into male or female, murder or death by vehicle, heat stroke or snake bite. Overall, the safety of jogging, running, or walking in any specific area at any given time should be calculated, taking all factors into consideration before jogging. Due care should be taken while jogging as well. It isn’t just murder joggers should be worried about. They need to look at the whole situation moment by moment and that means no headphones, and no focusing on heart meters or cell phones. Runners should stay fully engaged and fully in the moment.
Jogging safety should be equal for men and women. Still, every woman knows, even non-joggers, that sometimes women are followed, watched, or stalked. Runners Connect retells many stories of women being followed or harassed. Self-defense classes for women are a good idea and so is calling the police. The guy who is stalking one woman one day could be murdering another in a few months, so it is really important to report people who are trying to follow or intimidate women. Such behavior simply cannot be tolerated in our society.
Jogging safety is everyone’s responsibility, so drivers, other pedestrians, and even people in their homes should watch out for the safety of others.
[Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images]