Safety is a Team Sport
Safety is a team sport. Whether you know it or not, you’ve got a spot on the roster. The Charlotte running community continues to build bench strength and a game plan to make the streets, greenways, and trails – or wherever you like to run — safer for everyone.
This week’s Runner Safety Forum is the fourth in a series that started last October. The groups at these events keep getting bigger, and more diverse. All good things. The goal here is to keep the conversation about safety moving forward.
“If we stop talking about it, we can’t expect other people to make change,” Laura Morrow reminded the group at the start. “The biggest thing we can do to make the community safer is to keep the conversation going.”
Runners talked about their concerns and their worries, and about the changes they’d seen or experienced since the last meeting. Some expressed their feelings of being, “rattled, disturbed and disappointed,” by events and the perceived lack of concern from others in their running community or groups.
Detective Dustin Lawrence added his voice to Wednesday’s conversation. He’s a runner, a veteran, and is now withCharlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Sexual Assault Unit and Violent Crimes Division.
“The goal,” Detective Lawrence reminded the group, “is to mitigate crime… you can’t necessarily stop it, but you can mitigate the risk that you’ll be a victim of crime.”
There’s no best place or best time to run, he said. A crowded greenway on a Saturday morning, or the sidewalk along a busy street – they all present their challenges. The best you can do is to run where you feel most comfortable and take precautions.
• If you run with music, don’t have it so loud you can’t hear your surroundings.
• If you see something that looks odd, it probably is. Take note of it, and don’t be nervous about reporting it. It may be helpful information in a future investigation.
• Make sure someone knows where you are, or knows where you’re going.
• If you carry something like pepper spray, personal alarms, tazers, etc., know how to use them. That includes the safety or emergency features on your phone.
• If you’re approached and feel uncomfortable, it’s OK to tell someone “no.”
• Should something happen, make loud noises! Do anything you can to draw attention. It may save your life.
• If you can run with someone else, do it. It doesn’t mean your chances are zero, but it does lessen them.
Alex Johnson runs the greenway regularly. She says she feels fairly safe out there, especially when she sees some of the same faces out there.
“I think we kind of know each other at this point, and kind of look out for each other,” she said. “Making those connections makes me feel more seen and supported, and a little more comfortable.”
“Since being involved, I’ve changed the way I run – especially on the greenways,” said Chris Trifari. “I make it a habit of not just greeting someone out there, but also acknowledging them…Making sure they know that someone has seen them. Whether or not they’ve done something or intend to do something, they know someone has seen them today.”
“I’m encouraged by the number of people here,” added Lisa Landrum, who’s helping keep the conversation going. “The power of this running community is strong, and it’s evident in meetings like this.”
Landrum says next steps will include compiling and sharing a list of recommended personal safety devices, and possibly presenting again to Charlotte City Council.
Safety is a team sport, yes. And like any successful team, it takes individuals making an effort. Together.
Keep in touch here to find out more info on the next Runner Safety Forum: https://www.runcltrun.com/safety/
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