Can I help you?

I knew this greeting was going to come before long as I did the seemingly very odd thing of running up a short dead end, circling and coming out again whilst clutching my phone to see if had hit the right place. I thanked him for running on “his” road without stopping or really looking at him.

AFAIK not a private road - certainly no gate.

Has anybody had any incidents that made them regret going up such a road? What is your usual tactic in such cases? I can think of one such road I have not done near me where any “encounter” might not turn out well. As such I am not sure if even to try. Nobody else has.

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Was it signed as a public road? Often there are private roads in OpenStreetMap (and hence CityStrides) that are marked as public roads. If I encounter one of those streets, and it has a proper town/city street sign, I run up it and wave to the locals (with my headphones in). If it’s actually a private road that shouldn’t be runnable, I don’t run the road and fix it in OpenStreetMap.


I checked again on Street View and I can’t see any Private signs and indeed the actual “dead-end” road is also covered. In the UK you only tend to see the words “Private Road” otherwise you assume it it is not although of course whether you can access it anyway is dependent on whether there is a gate to it open or otherwise. No gate here. That said the entrance has been partially “greyed out” on Street View but easy to see it from other angles and, as mentioned, the road itself is fully covered. Anyway done that one now and no reason to do it again.

Years ago I had a guy approach me with a shotgun asked me where I was going…I was on a marked and mapped public footpath

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Recently I was informed by a person that his “girl” would be available for work if I wanted to wait. I told him I was just walking the city, and he seemed confused about the whole thing.

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I was in a nearby small town for a local race I have done many times. The race course were the only streets I have ever run in the (very) small town, though and as I was training for a marathon, I did streets before and after the 5k race for CS. I went down a side street which fed into a few driveways, but apparently one of the residents thought it was their private domain as I got hollered at from a window, with the guy saying something like “Hey! Get outta there! This ain’t the race course!”

From tone of voice I gathered his intention was NOT to assist a possibly lost runner.

Does anyone else run down a dead end street and pretend to look around as if you think there might be a path at the end just in case anyone is watching?


Sometimes, in those csases, i look very concentrated on my mobile, and think i know which way to go again. But most times i run very early on the day and don’t see people around.

Yes Stewart I sometimes think that would be my “excuse” and indeed I do often go up dead ends to check if missed any “cut throughs” as sometimes a map might suggest there is some sort of path and aerial views are unclear. I was trying to cover a maze of residential roads the other night and there were all sorts of alleyways and other paths that connected the roads. They are quite nice aren’t as then you don’t feel like an idiot and have to do a U-turn after about 50 yards!

Yes again Patrick - I was “consulting” my mobile on this occassion :slight_smile:

I’ve had a few people tell me that their road is a dead end, I usually just smile and reply “thanks, I know” and proceed to run it anyway. It can be a bit awkward passing them again on the way back, but it’s such a short interaction while running that there isn’t really time for anything more to develop.

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I’ve only been yelled at 3 times about being on private property over the course of 4000+ streets and 2 of them werent roads in CityStrides (Regeneron a big drug company parking lot & some nursing home facility). I’ve definitely gotten some strange looks several times. I usually try to run the stuff even if its private if its in CityStrides unless its too sketchy like running in someone’s backyard.

In the wake of the Ahmed Aubrey shooting and killing its really made me reflect at how privileged and lucky I am to be able to run my neighborhoods in relative safety. If I was black how much different would it be to be running down random dead end streets and private roads that people pretty much leave me alone with now? Seeing me now they might just think its strange, but if I was black the default mindset for many people might be something more nefarious. I guess that’s the whole point of many of these protests.


I am black.

Since I have my phone in my hand anyway, maybe I should capture faces on pictures when I run dead ends, especially the ones that have been privatized as if it was private property. Sometimes it is just surprise, but whatever it is, it is most of the time remarkable (and I even got a compliment lately after taking some time to explain what I was doing).

Anyway, I know how privileged I am to live in a country where most people don’t own a gun. Sometimes, I purposely run dead ends at hours where the risk of meeting someone is less (to avoid being yelled at). If I were in the US, (I would not run dead ends but if I would) I would on the contrary only do it during the day and never alone.



When I complete my city, I plan to go to the next City Commission meeting. I’ll have three comments I want to make based on my runs. The first (and most important) would be the amount of public right of way that have been de facto taken by private entities by fencing them off, putting up no trespassing signs, etc. And if the city is giving up the land voluntarily, it needs to inform the property appraiser so the land owned is taxed accordingly.

Number two and three relate to the number of streets with no sidewalks and no lights. Due to heat and work, my weekday runs are at five in the morning.


Depending on the vibe I get, I have done one of two things

  1. Explain what I am doing. And that seems to be enough.
  2. Yell for “Fido” and ask if they have seen a little white dog. “It’s my wife’s dog.” (FYI - I don’t own a dog) and vacate ASAP.

My brush with the law: After doing option 1, I later learned he called the police on me. I was actually in a gated community, but the gates are only for cars. Sidewalks are not gated. I explained to the officer what I was doing, and that was the end of it. No problem. I did have my run club shirt on (local brewery), so that helped. Now I always Stride with a run related shirt, which reminds me of this: Merch/Fundraising Idea - #14 by ericjrw

PS. I am a white male.

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“I’m a street walker too “

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