Joggers should stay out of bike lanes, cyclists warn

Lane hugging on Willoughby
The Brooklyn Paper / Dana Rubinstein

Joggers who use bike lanes to escape crowded sidewalks are running afoul of roadway laws — and putting cyclists in danger, leading pedal-pushers and bipeds agree.

Brooklyn joggers sometimes obstruct the Kent Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Shore Road, and Prospect Park roadway bike lanes in attempts to avoid injuries, maintain a consistent pace, and get around slow-moving, shoulder-to-shoulder pedestrian traffic.

But in doing so, the joggers — some of whom, ironically, are also avid cyclists — wind up disrupting delicate street-traffic flow and creating a nerve-racking experience for two-wheelers, bike advocates say.

“Running in bike lanes just transfers the problem to someone else — cyclists are forced to take a serious risk and make an unexpected swerve into the adjacent traffic,” said bike advocate Ian Dutton.

Some members of the Asics-sporting set admit their rule-breaking is a bad choice — but say it also feels justifiable through the haze of endorphins.

Faster runners, some say, move at roughly the same speed as cyclists — so an empty bike lane feels like a more suitable spot than a sidewalk full of slow walkers.

“If a runner is dodging pedestrians on the sidewalk and the bike lane is empty, it can be really tempting,” said runner Lee Silverman, who owns JackRabbit Sports in Park Slope. “That said, cyclists are justified in being frustrated.”

Other joggers said they sometimes run in bike lanes to protect their bodies from wear and tear.

Runners complain about uneven sidewalks that are trip-and-fall hazards for those with shuffling gaits, cambered streets such as the Prospect Park “loop” that can wreck knees over long distances, and the simple fact that concrete sidewalks are harder on the joints than smooth asphalt roadways.

“I run in the bike lane on Kent Avenue because the sidewalk is chewed-up,” said Keith Williams, who is also a cyclist. “When you see runners in the bike lane, a lot of times they’re doing it to protect their legs.”

But cyclists who have long fought for safer streets say sore knees are better than broken necks — and it only takes one rogue runner to injure or even kill someone.

That’s why bike boosters want runners to better plan their routes to avoid clogged sidewalks where snagging public space can feel like a Marathon-caliber effort.

“Picking less crowed places is important — you wouldn’t run through Times Square, would you?” Silverman said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.