Letter writer: Asheville drivers should share the road with runners

Asheville, N.C., Voted Worst Place to be a Runner! Well, not exactly the worst place to be a runner by any means. To be fair, Asheville is probably one of the greatest cities in the world to be a trail runner. I happen to be training for a road race, though, and that requires pounding the pavement. I had the unfortunate experience of being hit by not one but two cars during the same run [last] week — not to mention the third car that turned around in traffic to threaten legal action for me running on the road.

I did not realize running was a crime, but please call the police next time. I am extremely lucky that none of the incidents mentioned resulted in any serious injury or worse, death.

The first hit-and-run happened after a minivan struck my hand. [I’m] pretty sure that her side-view mirror was worse off than my water bottle. The second incident resulted in me landing on top of the hood of a car pulling out of a fast-food chain on Merrimon Avenue. I swear I made eye contact with the driver, but maybe he thought he was seeing an alien or a mirage. No one stopped or were concerned that they had just hit someone.

I try running routes in parts of the city like Beaver Lake, where there are lots of pedestrians, but some sections are tricky and require running on a road. I also obey traffic signals and laws because it helps preserve my life. It gets especially difficult/dangerous when you need to put together a run greater than 10 miles.

I would expect a city like ours to have more access to areas where people can run, walk, bike, walk dogs, [use] strollers and [have] handicapped access. I have heard there are these futuristic things in some far-out cities they are calling greenways. People actually use them to walk and exercise. Go figure; it’s incredibly weird to imagine. Insert sarcasm. Hard to imagine other cities nearby that have been voted “Worst Place to Live” several times over have got us beat when it comes to greenways.

Can we please figure this out?  I will help.  Just tell me how.  Please share the road and be safe.

— Chris Moe

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2 thoughts on “Letter writer: Asheville drivers should share the road with runners

  1. b.c.w.

    Chris, I’ve been a (mostly) road runner in Asheville for over 16 years now and have never had one incident with a car as severe as the one you’ve mentioned. Granted, I tend to train in places and on routes that aren’t heavy with auto traffic (mainly because I hate exhaust fumes and distracted, disrespectful drivers), and stick to side roads, smaller neighborhoods, and main routes that have dedicated sidewalks. I’m not sure where your routes are taking you, but there are plenty of options for us runners, including a very young, budding Greenway along Broadway near UNCA. I certainly share your frustration with drivers as a runner – it seems no matter how visible we make ourselves they don’t seem to want to obey basic traffic/pedestrian laws. All that being said, I encourage you to hook up with a running club or check out some local shops (if you haven’t already) to try and piece together routes and get advice to get you off these volatile sections of roadway and away from hostile drivers. Ultimately, I never trust that a car sees me… because they usually are distracted and don’t.

    Regarding Greenways – Asheville has had a Greenway development plan in the works for years, but developers (and the City) are more interested in how many hotels they can throw up downtown for tourists than they are about expanding the Greenway as a priority. It takes easements, construction contracts, and citizens , neighborhoods, and local governments willing to help the process along to make it happen. People want it… but it doesn’t happen overnight.

  2. Jordan and Denise, as someone who was born in Asheville and lived most of their life there but who know lives in Portland, I could not agree more with your comments. Asheville should be so lucky to emulate what makes up the heart and soul of Portland.

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