Running etiquette, sidewalks and do Tallahassee dogs understand foreign languages?


Jean-Maree Phillips


I’m an avid runner, albeit a slow one and I know that most (sane?) people don’t understand the logic behind running – using a lot of effort to go nowhere! But running in Tallahassee is not for the faint-hearted – the lack of sidewalks, homeowner activities and general traffic makes running an interesting and sometimes dangerous activity.

I run in the Shannon Forest/Killearn area and I’ve become familiar with a number of dogs that live on my routes. Early in 1994 I became acquainted with a particular dog that lives on Royal Oaks. He runs free. One morning I was out running with my German Shepherd (and obligatory plastic bags) when he came out of his garden, crossed over the road and greeted us with a rather rude growl. I told the dog off – in my native tongue, Afrikaans – the word I used was “Voert!” (The English meaning is basically “scram”). To my surprise, he turned tail and ran. In subsequent encounters with him, I’ve had to continue to stake my right to be on the sidewalk while his owners continue to let him roam. I wonder why owners let their dogs run free – especially when most dogs are willing to use their teeth and have an inclination to roam into the road where there always seems to be an oncoming car.

I like cross country – but yard waste carefully placed on sidewalks by homeowners is another issue which often force runners and pedestrians alike to leap over yard waste rather than use the road. I’ve also experienced this from a motorist’s perspective: One morning I was at the Forsyth/ Killearney Way stop sign when two runners were forced onto the road by yard waste. They ran on the road against the traffic (good) but in the middle of the left-hand side of the road (bad). What they didn’t realize was the confusion they caused – an oncoming car veered dangerously close to the cars stopped at the stop sign. The looks of panic of the driver’s was amusing but I was uncomfortable since I was a runner and felt it reflected on my running behavior.

How do we get the whole message through to people that runners and pedestrians have a right to use sidewalks and not be harassed by multilingual dogs and yard waste?