Why Do Runners Run in the Street or Road Instead of the Sidewalk?

Have you ever wondered why people run in the street instead of using the sidewalk?

Runners often run in the street or road because asphalt is softer than concrete. Runners also find that there’s less of a slope, they feel more courteous, and it’s more convenient for them.

Read on to find out why runners prefer running on the road instead of on the sidewalk. You’ll also find out if runners should run on the sidewalk or the road, whether or not it’s rude for runners to run on the sidewalk, and how running on a track compares to running on a street.

4 Reasons Runners Prefer to Run on the Street Over Sidewalks

woman running  the road

Runners move faster than anyone else traveling on a sidewalk or street on foot. Their goal is to find the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B while staying the healthiest, saving themselves the most trouble, and staying out of walking pedestrians.

Listed below are the four most popular reasons runners prefer running in the street over a sidewalk. 

  • The road is softer
  • Convenience
  • Less of a slope
  • Courtesy

The Road is Softer

Asphalt, the prevailing material found in roads, is a softer surface than a sidewalk, usually made of concrete. Runners protect and value their bodies; therefore, some choose to run on the softer of the two surfaces when presented with the option. 

Asphalt is softer, giving runners a bit more shock absorption and leaving them feeling less sore compared to running on a concrete sidewalk.


Sidewalks are usually broken up by obstacles, such as curves, benches, rough or worn areas, roots, parked cars, and fallen branches. Serious runners would prefer to run without the worry and distraction of these obstacles.

The street usually offers a straight path without many obstacles since it has to stay clear for cars to pass through. Runners can focus solely on their performance without worrying about avoiding or maneuvering through any obstacles.

Less of a Slope

Runners choose to run on the street rather than the sidewalk because it’s generally more of an even terrain. This environment causes less stress and fatigue on their foot and leg, which keeps runners healthier for extended periods.

Usually, sidewalks are separated by crosswalks, driveways, and entrances, which all slope toward the road and provide a lack of consistency that can distract runners who want to stay focused solely on their running efforts.


Runners pass up sidewalks for the street because they don’t want to interfere with the slower-moving leisure walkers that can occupy busy sidewalks.

Families going on walks, parents pushing their children in strollers, or individuals taking a leisurely walk are among the types runners try to respect by taking their high-stress running habits to the street.

Should runners run on the sidewalk or the road?

Runners should run on the road if they can safely and comfortably do so. They should consider using a sidewalk if it is flat, featureless, and relatively void of pedestrians.

Is it rude to run on a sidewalk?

While some may consider it rude to run on a sidewalk, practicing the correct etiquette can eliminate the negative feelings associated with running on the sidewalk.

Let slower pedestrians know when you wish to pass them

If you’re running on a skinny trail or sidewalk where you can’t pass an individual due to the width of the path, call out behind slower movers to let them know that you’d like to pass.

That way, they can move to the side, eliminating the possibility of passing them quickly by running off the trail or sidewalk and taking slower pedestrians by surprise.

Be aware of other pedestrians

It is common to run while playing music. Although this may be an excellent way to stay motivated in a high-performance running situation, it can distract runners from listening to their surrounding environment.

This can result in confusion, lead to harmful situations and create misunderstandings among other pedestrians, leading to the negative feelings often associated with running on a sidewalk.

Call out to let leisure pedestrians know which side you’ll be passing on

If the trail or sidewalk is wide enough where you can pass a slow mover without waiting for them to move to the side, call out a signal phrase like “on your left.” This is to inform them that you intend to pass by them and make them more aware.

Is it better to run on a track or the street?

Runners should choose to run on a track rather than a street because of the lack of obstacles, cars, and leisurely pedestrians. 

In addition, runners should consider changing directions every lap to prevent stress on the leg facing toward the inside of the track.

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