Safe running routes to make women feel less vulnerable are mapped out
New ‘Safe Running Routes’ around Cardiff have been recommended by Run 4 Wales to make women feel safer when running alone.
A recent report by Run 4 Wales and Cardiff University shows that only 42% of women felt safe enough to run alone through the City.
One of the first suggested ‘Safe Running Routes’ covers a six-mile circuit across the Ely and Taff Trails in Grangetown.
Rhiannon Linington-Payne, Head of Competitions at Welsh Athletics and a Welsh International 400-metre runner, says: “As a woman, it’s almost ingrained in you that you have to think about your safety first.
“It’s a historical thing in society. There is always something in the back of your mind as a woman that’s says ‘You’re probably going to get shouted at on your run’.”
Linington-Payne said that these ‘Safe Running Routes’ must have good street lighting and be well-populated enough that someone can get help easily.
She also said that social attitudes to women exercising need to change and that, too often, women are seen as ‘easy victims’.
She says: ‘We’ve had litter thrown at us and cars of youths shouting intimidating and derogatory comments at us. It’s completely unacceptable.”
Kate Morgan, one of the founders of She Runs Cardiff, organises runs of groups of 50 women to exercise around Cardiff.
She says that finding safe routes is difficult and that many women she trains with have been catcalled while running, or had cars sound their horns at them.
“A safe route would be a well-lit route,” she said.
She advises people run along bus routes, which are generally well lit.
Charlotte Peacock is a runner in the city who has experienced abuse on a run: “I had a big group of 20 [year olds] who gathered around me and I could hear them saying stuff but I tried not to tune into it.
“That was when I said ‘No I’m only going to run in the day again’.”
Dr Sara MacBride-Stewart headed up the research into routes that should be made safe for women: “We are trying to reshape the conversation about how runnable are our streets? Can women run to places they want to run in?”
MacBride-Stewart believes everyone should be able to run from their front door safely. She says means “building sustainable running communities and a recognition of the right to runnable streets wherever we live”.