15 things I’ve Learned in 1500 Miles of Stroller Running

  1. It’s way easier to get a child into a stroller than a car seat.
  2. Most Minnesota drivers ignore the crosswalk laws. But they’re more likely to stop for you when you have a stroller. There are two interpretations of this pattern. Strollers genuinely make you more visible. Or, there’s a lot of chosen ignorance of the crosswalk law.
    Drivers are getting better at stopping at this crosswalk.

    Drivers are getting better at stopping at this crosswalk.

     

  3. Distracted walking really is a thing. People wander all over the sidewalk without checking oncoming or passing traffic. But we’ve only clipped 1 person a year.
  4. Minneapolis and St. Paul have some excellent trails that get plowed well enough to stroller run most of the winter (temperature permitting).
    A plowed path all to ourselves!

    A plowed path all to ourselves!

     

  5. If you’re going to take the kid out on cold (below freezing) days, invest in a wheat bag warmer. Heat it in the microwave and it’ll keep the kid toasty warm for an hour or more. Needless to say, below about 45°F you should have a weather shield on the stroller.
  6. A lot of intersections have poorly thought out curb ramps, or none at all.
  7. I know tactile paving at intersections is a good thing, but it’s a little annoying with a running stroller. The plank road near the Stone Arch bridge is even worse.
    Lift the front wheel up as you take a stroller over the plank road.

    Lift the front wheel up as you take a stroller over the plank road.

     

  8. You can fit a lot of stuff in the bottom of a stroller. Once you’re pushing 50 lbs of stroller and child, why not add 20 lbs of groceries? It’s already going to be slow going up any hills.
  9. If you’re a toddler, downtown Minneapolis’ combination of light rail lines and construction sites is incredibly exciting.
    Running with your kid in a stroller is a great way to get around taking photos of construction sites.

    Running with your kid in a stroller is a great way to get around taking photos of construction sites.

     

  10. Most people aren’t active commuting their kids to daycare. But a lot of parents seem to want to, given the number of wistful conversations I’ve had about “how lucky you are.” I think their kids want to as well (see point 1). But daycare drop-off is not the time or place to talk about changing our zoning so more people can live close to work and stores. Or maybe it is …
    About 5% of the kids at our daycare get there by bike or stroller.

    About 5% of the kids at our daycare get there by bike or stroller.

     

  11. You can have much more of a conversation with your kid when you’re running than when you’re driving.
  12. Children have a good sense of direction and geography at a remarkably young age.
  13. Physics: On the flat without a lot of wind I can run pretty close to my normal pace, but up a hill or into the wind, things slow down significantly. And running with an empty stroller is actually harder because the weight and balance is all off.
  14. Don’t bother taking a puncture kit with you, but do have your phone and wallet with you; and have a puncture kit and spare tubes at home.
  15. A lot of our city must be awful to navigate in a wheelchair or with other mobility impairments, and especially in winter.
Evan Roberts

About Evan Roberts

Evan Roberts is an Assistant Professor of Population Studies and Sociology at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches and researches demography, labor and urban issues. He counts it as a successful week if he has run more miles than he has driven. Connect on twitter @evanrobertsnz

15 thoughts on “15 things I’ve Learned in 1500 Miles of Stroller Running

  1. Scott

    As for Number 2, I suspect it is because you are leading with an object they perceive as potentially hazardous to their vehicle.

  2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    Whether anyone will yield to pedestrians seems to have a lot to do with context. Trying to cross 46th or 42nd at one of the uncontrolled avenue intersection seems never to get anyone to yield. The drivers feel like it’s there space and they don’t even think about it. Even if you’re at a pedestrian refugee like 17th.

    But crossing Minnehaha Parkway, you stand chance (maybe not a very strong one) of a driver eventually stopping.

    I don’t know how you get drivers to feel like they are in a shared space in the entire city, but that seems like the necessary goal.

    1. Evan RobertsEvan

      My view (which may be in the minority round here) is that the “every intersection is a crosswalk” law is not a good one. It’s well meaning, but meaningless without enforcement. ANd there clearly isn’t a will on the part of police to go round enforcing the law by doing blitzes.

      But my corollary to that is that we should have many more marked intersections (yellow signs, slightly raised pavement, “zebra” marking, bump outs) and expect drivers to stop at them.

      So, my comparison is strictly about marked crosswalks where many drivers zoom on through for a lone pedestrian.

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        I guess I think of the point of the law as sorting out responsibility when a pedestrian is hit by a car. If the law doesn’t say that every intersection is a crosswalk at which pedestrians have right of way, drivers might avoid liability by blaming the victim.

        But yeah, I don’t really expect anyone to stop at crosswalks that aren’t marked, because that just isn’t in the culture here. Nor, as you say, is stopped at marked ones really. I don’t know how to change that.

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  5. Andy S

    Minnesota crosswalk law is similar to Illinois, where I live.

    https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=169.21

    A driver has no duty to yield to pedestrians who are not yet in the roadway. I am big on pedestrian and cyclist rights, but a lot of people, in my opinion, don’t really understand crosswalk law. Maybe you’re not making this mistake.

    1. Will

      It seems backwards to suggest requiring a pedestrian to be in the roadway for the yield to apply when most sane pedestrians do not enter the street or road when they don’t expect anyone in a vehicle to stop.

    2. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      I continue to hear that, but it sure seems like a misreading of the actual statute. “Driver of a vehicle shall stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway” does not mean that the pedestrian must already be in the roadway, it means that the pedestrian must have asserted their right of way to cross the street. I often do this by holding out my hand to say “stop” to the driver. Or, during these long dark nights, I take pleasure in using my brightest LED flashlight to assert my right of way upon motorists. Despite that, they still fail to yield. Lawbreakers.

    3. Andy S

      I agree that it would be nice if the law said what you (and I) would like it to say, but the legal definition of the roadway does not include the sidewalk, so you’re not “crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk” unless you are in the roadway. IANAL, maybe one can weigh in.

      From here:
      http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/pedestrian-crossing-50-state-summary.aspx

      “Minnesota mandates that a motorist stop when a pedestrian is in any portion of the roadway.”

      This guy agrees with you:

      http://fresh-energy.org/2012/04/to-walk-or-not-to-walk-do-pedestrians-have-the-right-of-way-in-minnesota/

      On the other hand, watch some videos of police doing crosswalk stings. They don’t stand at the edge and ticket drivers who cruise past. They put themselves in the roadway, and ticket drivers who don’t stop. Maybe the former would not hold up in court?

    4. Andy S

      …and here’s a legal opinion on Illinois’ similar statute. The statute:

      “When traffic control signals are not in place or not in
      operation the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the
      right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield,
      to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when
      the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the
      vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so
      closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in
      danger.”

      The opinion:
      http://www.illinoislegalaid.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_content&contentID=8594

      “Pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right of way, so drivers must yield. Pedestrians not yet in a crosswalk should yield to drivers until it’s safe to enter the crosswalk.”

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        I would be wary of reasoning from other states’ laws, especially on a topic like this that varies a fair amount.

        Having said that, “when
        the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway…is approaching so
        closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in
        danger” is limiting language that does not appear in the Minnesota statute.

        One could read Illinois as saying, “stop when it would be dangerous not to” and the Minnesota law as saying, “stop for people are trying to cross.” No idea if they’ve been interpreted that way.

        Personally, I think it would be silly for there to be a difference between standing on the curb looking to cross and having put one foot on the roadway already, but in practice I don’t think it hard for a driver to know if they should yield. They just don’t do it.

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