Recently, Cilantro pleaded with her town’s government to make her town more runner-friendly – even just sidewalks would be an improvement! If you had a chance to build the ultimate runner-friendly community, what would it have?
- Off-road paved trails?
- Natural trails in the woods?
- Marked routes with distances?
- Drinking fountains?
- Call boxes?
- A great running club?
- A lot of races?
The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) has a Runner-Friendly Community designation for communities that these meet criteria and others in three areas: infrastructure, community support and government support.
Infrastructure refers to: network of sidewalks, multi-use trails, paths, share lanes, etc.; pedestrian networks which allow a person to complete 3-10 miles of distance, either continuously in one direction or through a loop course; a running track that is maintained, well lit, and open to the public; water fountains along a trail or pedestrian network; bathrooms; available parking near a trail or path system; trails/paths maintained year-round with snow removal in winter; and emergency phones on pedestrian networks and pedestrian networks well-lit after dark.
Community Support means the area is home to one or more nonprofit RRCA running clubs whose mission is to promote running as healthy exercise and a sport; nonprofit running club is working in collaboration with both public and private organizations to support and promote running throughout the community; has a specialty running store along with other runner friendly businesses.
Government Support: officials work closely with the local running community to secure race permits for safe and desirable racecourses with a reasonable permit pricing structure; race permits issued for preferred course locations and dates; local government should not impose excessive liability insurance requirements on the running community; law enforcement is a positive partner in event planning as opposed to a roadblock; law enforcement proactively supports pedestrian rights, address complaints about pedestrian safety including monitoring dangerous intersections; no to low reports of crime on pedestrian networks with runner/pedestrian safety measures in place and areas patrolled regularly by law enforcement; community actively promotes physical fitness, including running, as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The RRCA names Runner-Friendly Communities every year. The designation doesn’t mean that these communities are running nirvanas, but they are doing pretty well.
Indianapolis, my hometown, was named the RRCA Outstanding Runner-Friendly Community of the Year for 2016. It was a great opportunity for the community to be recognized at the RRCA convention in Detroit and then for Indy Runners to present the award to the Mayor of Indianapolis (who is a runner) at a club run in the early summer.
Living in a Runner-Friendly Community, I enjoy:
- Having a great local running community, with training programs and resources
- Choosing from a variety of races nearly every week
- Running on pavement, gravel, grass, natural trails, or a track
- Having the ability to run hills or flat courses off road
- Being able to run any distance on a connected network
- Access to group and individual/private coaching
- Opportunities for free or paid cross-training
What can you do to make your community runner-friendly? Is it ready for recognition?