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Is It Better to Run on the Sidewalk or Street? (Benefits vs. Risks)

Is It Better to Run on the Sidewalk or Street? (Benefits vs. Risks)

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Have you ever found yourself running on a sidewalk or street and wondered, is this really the best place to run? Is it better to run on the sidewalk or street?

Well, it depends. While some factors, like the weather and time of day, might be out of your control, you can decide based on what’s best for your safety and performance.

Let’s explore the different scenarios in which running on the sidewalk versus the street is better, and why runners sometimes prefer one over the other.

We’ll also discuss why running on certain sidewalks may not be a good idea.

Why Do Runners Run on the Road Instead of the Sidewalk?

When running for exercise, choosing where to run can be confusing. Should you stay on the sidewalk, or is it okay to run in the street?

First of all, the smoothness of the road makes running more pleasant and reduces stress on your joints. It’s easier to maintain a consistent stride pattern on a continuous flat surface than when avoiding obstacles or dealing with uneven pavement on the sidewalk.

In addition, roads often have better lighting and line markings that aid visibility while running in low-light conditions. Suppose you’re an early morning or evening runner. In that case, you’d feel much more secure jogging on a well-lit street than moving around a dimly lit sidewalk.

Finally, you should remember that sidewalks are often crowded. While it’s true that people usually allow joggers room to run in some areas, there’s still a chance you’ll find people, pets, and obstacles in your way.

All these distractions can disrupt your pace and focus. Therefore, the open spaces between parked cars on the road give runners much more room for movement.

Is It Bad to Run on the Sidewalk?

Is it wrong to run on the sidewalk if you’re a runner? The answer can be quite simple!

Let’s assess the pros and cons. Running on the sidewalk keeps you away from traffic and potentially dangerous drivers. Plus, sidewalks usually have a safer surface than that of the road.

Moreover, some sidewalks can be uneven, so you should keep your focus to avoid tripping over or going sideways.

Also, you tend to stumble by some obstacles like trees, benches, and stairs on sidewalks that can surprise you while jogging.

Benefits of Running on the Sidewalk

You might be wondering why it’s better to run on the sidewalk instead of the street. There are quite a few benefits of choosing the sidewalk.


Sidewalks are much more accessible for runners than streets since they’re designed for pedestrian use only. This means fewer obstacles, like potholes and parked cars, that you have to dodge and move around as you run.

Fewer Cars

Running on sidewalks can also mean fewer worries about cars passing by at unsafe speeds or drivers not paying attention to their surroundings.

Risks of Running on the Sidewalk

Many people are under the assumption that running on the side of the road is risky because of passing cars and trucks, but there are other concerns.

Decreased Visibility

Most sidewalks don’t have street lights, so it’s harder for drivers to spot you in dark or low-lit areas, even if they’re on the lookout for pedestrians.

Low Awareness from Drivers

Drivers aren’t usually aware of runners on sidewalks because it isn’t very common. They also don’t necessarily expect someone to run alongside them as opposed to crossing over from another side.

Benefits of Running on the Street

When pursuing running, the street can have its benefits if done safely.

Increased Speed

Running on pavement or asphalt reduces impact and helps with keeping up speed. The road’s firmer surface provides less resistance than dirt or other types of terrain.

Since asphalt is generally smoother than concrete, there’ll be less muscle strain while running over it.

Visualize Your Goals

Runners can experience an excellent mental boost while running on the street. It makes them feel braver and bolder. By pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and seeing new things as you run around your neighborhood, you can feel inspired to keep on pursuing your goals.

Street Level

Taking a run on the sidewalk can feel different than the road because you’re at eye level with walls, gates, and other obstacles. On the street, you can see what’s going on around you and take in all the sights and sounds.

Risks of Running on the Street

It’s not all easy when choosing to run on the street; while there are benefits, there are also risks.

Body Strain

The pavement can put a ton of strain on your body, making an injury more likely. Even if you have good running shoes that absorb some of the impact, your feet, ankles, and knees will still feel the pain.


You never know when a car will appear right before you, especially at night when visibility is low. Stick to well-lit roads with speed limit signs and inform a family member or friend where you’ll be at the time of running.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, running on the sidewalk or street depends on personal preference and conditions. Running on the street might be more enjoyable and convenient with fewer cars.

However, the sidewalk is faster if the traffic and noise bother you. Additionally, if the street has a lot of potholes and isn’t paved well, running on the sidewalk is the smarter decision.

Therefore, it’s essential to always be on the lookout and stay aware of your surroundings, whatever you decide.

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