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Caution urged as runners, bikers share Montana’s wintertime roads

Posted at 3:14 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 17:51:54-05

MISSOULA – Western Montana winters aren’t friendly to runners and bikers as everything from slippery roads and sidewalks to limited daylight can be a real headache.

It can be hard for some runners to resist that rush of heading outdoors and getting a few miles in, even if it means braving the snow and ice.

For those with a busy workday, the only time to get exercise is during the dark hours. So, what can you do to make sure you’re seen by drivers?

“We definitely recommend 360 degrees of visibility. So a headlamp on the front is great, but it doesn’t quite cut it. We have some clip lights that you can clip on the back of your hip, on your headbands, that sort of thing. Or some lights that actually go on your shoes or around your wrist,” said Runner’s edge manager Forrest Boughner.

It’s not just runners that are sharing the roadways with vehicles as bikers are advised to take those same precautions in order to stand out during the dark hours. There are also some other tips for those traveling on two wheels.

“Use a wider tire, maybe ride the mountain bike instead of the road bike, or even let a little air out of your tires as that builds a little more surface area. Bike riders should really not be hugging the side of that cleared space because that’s often where you get a lip,” advised City of Missoula Bicycle Pedestrian Program Manager Ben Weiss.

With many sidewalks not shoveled — and some streets with no sidewalks at all — it’s inevitable that roads will be shared by runners, bikers, and drivers.

“Just remember that cars are also on the road and belong in the road — and we don’t necessarily belong on the road with them. So if you do have to step on the road while you’re running, really make sure there are no cars coming and if you’re in a pack, don’t take up the entire road,” Boughner told MTN News.

The bottom line is that everyone needs to be aware of their surroundings and remember the roads will be shared during the winter more than any other time of the year.

Drivers can help avoid a potentially dangerous situation by keeping windows and mirrors clean at all times.

Reporting by Russ Thomas for MTN News