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A Runner’s Diary: Cars vs. Runners

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I always drive into New York City from Long Island. I simply hate taking the Long Island Rail Road. I’m uncomfortable squished in between two people. I can’t talk on my phone and can barely read the newspaper without smacking someone in the face. So, I opt to drive.

The only problem with that is the traffic. There is no rhyme or reason to the traffic patterns in metropolitan New York. Some days, I fly into the city and other days, I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours.

Everyone seems to have road rage and no one is considerate of others. If you try to get in a lane, the car behind you moves up so you can’t squeeze in. I also realized the other day that no one makes eye contact.

While I was running a long run the other day on the Wantagh Parkway (well, actually it was Cedar Park that runs along the Wantagh Parkway), I noticed that while I was running and passed other runners, they would wave to me.

Is this a secret handshake? No one in New York City looks at anyone else, much less waves to each other! I came to realize that this was something that runners do to inspire other runners to keep going. They wave as they pass by.

But not all runners do this. I noticed there were some runners who refused to make eye contact with me. But that was rare. Most were generally encouraging. I think they realize that running is hard.

What I also noticed was that bicyclists and inline skaters don’t wave to runners. The runners have a secret bond that no one else has.

You know, I never realized how drivers were until I started to run. I always knew that you had to be somewhat aggressive to drive in New York City, but when I drove in upstate New York, I realized how pleasant people where. They would wait their turn and alternate lanes.

I guess the folks upstate and in different areas of the country know what runners know. They know that you need to be respectful to others when you drive.

So why are the people on Long Island and New York City not hearing this? I don’t want to sound preachy, but if NYC drivers could take a look at the actions of runners, I think they would be better drivers!

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