While volunteering at a race at White Rock Lake Saturday, I stumbled into a dispute as old as the wheel. Runners versus bikers: who has the right-of-way?
I was waiting at the finish line of the Dallas Running Club’s Breakfast Bash when a lovely woman, gray-headed under her biker’s helmet, stopped to ask what I planned to do about the runners blocking her way up ahead. As a first-time volunteer (and, I’ll admit, chicken), I pointed her to Tim Smith, wearing an official DRC shirt.
Biker Lady was polite but firm in insisting that Tim needed to do something. “They’re running all over the road!” she exclaimed in exasperation. “You should have t-shirts printed that read ‘stay right’ as a reminder,” she said. “Your people are going to cause a crash!”
Tim sighed and gave his response, almost by rote. It was evident he wasn’t new to the discussion. The DRC requested and received a permit for the race, he said. Hundreds of runners cannot be expected to line up single file.
Since I’m neither a runner nor a cyclist (calling me a power-walker would be generous) I had allegiance to neither, though I’ve seen a few brutal crashes of bike versus walker/runner and too many near misses to count. The death of Lauren Huddleston on the Katy Trail brought new awareness and a new signage campaign but did little to repair the rift between cyclists and pedestrians. Huddleston turned without warning and was struck and killed by a cyclist.
Biker Lady (I’m sorry I didn’t catch her name) suggested better race signage on race day, and DRC President Peggy Munroe agreed to look into that good idea. On the other hand, anyone who spends any time at White Rock knows it’s easier to count the Saturday mornings when there ISN’T a race. And the events are hard to miss – big crowds, upbeat music, colorful arches at the finish line, balloons at the check-in table.
I guess it comes down to the same advice we gave our kids when they started kindergarten: be courteous to others, obey the rules and learn to share.