Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Walking In France

My good friend Jonathan Scrivens, in his excellent blog "French for a While" (which is always reachable from this blog by clicking on the right and down a bit) had a question the other day. This is the relevant posting:


He was saying that in the USA runners are advised to run facing the traffic, ie on the left side of the road. But he has noticed runners here in France running with their backs to the traffic, ie on the right side of the road. The question is, why is it different here? The answer is - foolishness. The same sort of foolishness which has many of these runners wearing dark colours so they can not be seen easily.

I have mentioned several times on my blog, which is about walking, but the same applies to runners, that if you walk on the left, you can see the traffic coming towards you, if they do not seem to be pulling out to avoid you, you can at least see them and take evasive action (if there is somewhere to go).

The real danger comes from traffic approaching from behind you, theoretically on the other side of the road. If they decide to overtake, they can be very close to you, or, if you are very unlucky, if their judgement is bad, if you stumble or veer off course slightly, bingo, you are a goner.

My advice is, run or walk on the left. Keep your eyes peeled for the traffic approaching you. If there is no traffic approaching you, keep glancing behind for the overtaking nutters or even, if you hear traffic behind you, step onto the verge until they have gone. You will lose some time, but it is better than losing your life.

Having said the above, there are times when it is best to move over to the right hand side of the road. For instance if you are approaching a blind left curve, especially if there is a steep bank or some other hindrance to you jumping out of the way of oncoming cars. As I said, then you walk on the right, but you show great caution every time you hear a car behind you.

And wear something highly visible, white or, even better, bright yellow.

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