Yesterday I tested out a new running route partially because I am increasing my mileage and am forced to break away from my solid path, but also partially because I recognize the need to breakaway from my solid path. This new path was fine, except it forces me to double back, and I don't like that. I like either running to a destination or running in a loop -- I don't like the feeling of retracing my steps; it makes me feel like I've already covered that ground. The other thing I didn't like about that route was that I had to cross three intersections with lights.
Mostly I try to avoid intersections like these, three reasons:
Chief reason number one: If the light is red when you approach it, you have to do one of two things -- stop running and stand there, or jog in place. I don't like to just stop running because then I lose my momentum, and I don't like to jog in place because I feel like a geek jogging there while everyone in traffic looks at you. So, I always cross my fingers and hope that every light I hit will be green when I hit it.
Secondary reason: If the light is green when I get there, and I have the opportunity to run across the street, I never quite trust drivers to not run me over. Especially drivers who are turning right. Some of them looked pissed that I'm delaying their turn, others leer, and others aren't even looking. (When I was a kid, we had an Atari and I loved the game "Frogger" -- where you try to steer the frog across the road without getting smashed. Well, I had a sicko streak and kinda liked seeing the frog get smooshed, and well, sometimes I think people have real life feelings like those about runners crossing the street. Sure, it's morally wrong to strike a runner down in the prime of her life, but perhaps it is also humorous.) It freaks me out and I always hesitate when crossing a lighted intersection, even when the light is in my favor.
Last reason: I like to pretend when I am running that no one can see me. It's the only way I can consciously do it outside over and over again. People look at runners; I look at runners. And I don't like to be noticed like that. So, when I run I mostly chose paths that have little or no traffic, but this route that I chose yesterday has heavy traffic. I don't mind the cars if they're just cruising by, but at the light, that's when you know they are going to stare at you. How could they not? They're sitting in their vehicle while you trot in front of them -- it's like a performance.
If I had my way, we would have little skyway bridges over every intersection to avoid these problems and I think that not only would the running world thank me for the idea, but I think walkers, bikers and roller bladers alike would be thankful for such innovation.