Message to drivers: You don't own the road

Brad Bowlin
Sports Editor

TWIN FALLS — As sports go, running is pretty low on the danger meter.

There are no 300-pound linemen trying to smear you into the pavement, nobody wielding a wooden stick slamming you into the sidewalk, no inside fastballs hurtling toward your head.

Except for the occasional shin splint or ankle sprain or strained hamstring, running is pretty safe. Or so I thought.

Reality in the form of a white sedan driven by someone in a big hurry set in quickly on one of my morning runs. Having settled into a comfortable rhythm after the climb out of Rock Creek Canyon, I was running east on Filer Avenue when the car pulled up to the intersection of Filer and Sparks Street.

There was plenty of light, and the driver's line of sight was clear. But she was making a right turn and didn't bother looking my way. Good karma was all that saved me from a broken leg - or worse. Glancing through the windshield, I realized - almost too late - that the driver hadn't seen me. As she hit the accelerator, I jumped, rolling over the hood like a stuntman in a Bruce Willis movie.

I stood up on the driver's side, brushing gravel off my legs and hands as the driver, clearly shaken, got out to make sure I was OK. Uninjured, save for a couple of nasty scrapes and a bruised knee, I politely encouraged her to look both ways next time.

Since then, I've become a little - OK, a lot - less polite in dealing with idiot drivers. And there are a lot of them out there.

I've come close to being hit by cars numerous times despite trying to avoid busy or narrow streets. Going by the YFCA, where many drivers seem to think looking both ways when pulling out of the parking lot is optional, is the worst. Surprisingly, the young drivers at the Twin Falls High School have posed no problem. (Maybe they aren't old enough to have forgotten the common-sense rules taught in driver's education.)

It's no wonder Twin Falls city attorney Fritz Wonderlich, who finished the Boston Marathon in under three hours last week, runs mostly in rural areas before most people are awake.

Many of you drive too fast, leave too little room on the shoulder, turn without looking or just ignore the fact that a pedestrian is sharing the road with you.

Figure it out. Is shaving 10 seconds off your arrival time worth the risk of seriously injuring or killing someone? This is not only a runner's lament, but one for bicyclists and walkers, too. Who will be the first driver to run over a small child riding a bicycle this summer?

For a city its size, Twin Falls has a ridiculously small number of areas where runners - or walkers and bike riders - can exercise free of traffic. A bike path here is nothing more than a residential street with a sign that says "bike path." So, we're forced to share the road with motorized tons of steel more dangerous than any hockey thug or Randy Johnson fastball. It only takes some common sense and simple courtesy to make sure sharing doesn't result in tragedy.

4/27/1997
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