I take my walking back into the subdivisions behind my complex (for exercise walking). I also walk to places a lot using the sidewalk. I hate rural areas and feel much less safe because of the lack of sidewalks and traffic signals (and more people who don't keep their dogs on leashes!!) For jogging I like the parks because the trails are generally asphalt or packed dirt and not as hard as the sidewalks. Living in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area I am thankfully SURROUNDED by parks that are generally full of kids and joggers.
I do wear earbuds but the nice thing about those is that I can take one out and leave the other one on low. I can actually hear people talking to me that way. I also keep an ear out for cyclists, although even without earbuds I find you don't always hear them (when cycling I do the polite thing and make noise if I see a pedestrian in front of me, bicycles can be ultra quiet).
My city has a "mayor's mile" skywalk. So that helps with inclement weather, and it's above the street so there's no traffic to slow you down (besides the other walkers). It connects multiple downtown buildings: the convention center, the new arena, a few hotels, a few parking garages, a food court, and a few restaurants. Since there are so many large businesses involved with lots of people around, it seems like a safer option crime-wise as well, though I still keep my eyes peeled for anything suspicious. It isn't open 24-7, but the hours of operation are pretty convenient.
There is also a greenway to connect the parks along the river, with a pedestrian bridge that is almost completed. It's great to live in a place that uses my tax money for something that benefits us all!
walking in the city is easy! lived in Chicago 14 years and walked everywhere. Walking in the country is easy, lots of open space and back roads. Walking in a crimeridden auto town is HARD. Even going to the park you need at least 2 others for safety and don't even attempt to walk the roads. (Think Flint (where I live) or Detroit...)
I chaired a teen driving school and this advice is the most pertinent to day-to-day life: always look where you want the car to go. That being said, drivers are often distracted and you can be one of the distractions if you're exercising on the road... That driver looking at you will head that car right on over. I will beg people to stick to the sidewalk unless there is an obstruction that forces you onto the road. Stay safe!!! And yes, I live and work outdoors in an urban environment; there is more nature out there than most people realize!
Even in the suburbs you need to be aware of what is happening around you. For years I lived a block away from a street level train station in NJ. 2 deaths happened at the crossing (which included a railroad crossing light, and barrier,,,both wearing earphones). The other issue is, in the suburbs where you have TURN ON RED, you always need to be mindful of a driver who is in a hurry. Some people will make that turn even when they see a CAR, and they are almost blind to a pedestrian.
I live in Pittsburgh and have found that since I work pretty much downtown, I run so much more. If you've ever been to Pittsburgh, there are bridges everywhere. My goal this summer is to cross each bridge in the general vicinity of downtown at least once. I am up to 6. After work, I head over to the Y to workout. Instead of jumping on the trolley, I head out for a nice run before step class. I also use red lights to stretch and catch my breath if I need it.
My city-running mantra is that if I can keep going, I do. For example, I keep running through downtown until I come upon a DO NOT WALK sign. I don't stop until I have to. Also, if my intended course has me stopped but I could take a different route and not stop, I opt for that. That has really helped me to up my mileage slowly. Its like a game. Running through a city is slower so I leave it for the end of my run as a cool down.
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