Philly's running community is growing by leaps and bounds every day, and our city streets and park trails have to accommodate a lot of traffic when you consider all the walkers, runners, cyclists and cars that you encounter on your daily run. Alon Abramson, founder of the West Philly Runners, has launched a new running incident database in an effort to help city decision-makers improve infrastructure and safety as well as to keep runners informed of any areas they might need to be more vigilant in.
Abramson explained in a phone interview that the idea took root after a conversation he saw on Run215's Facebook page where a few runners were commenting on being harassed. Soon others chimed in and shared their own experiences.
"I realized that there might be hot spots where these incidents occur more frequently, and that it would be helpful to track them to see if there are any important patterns," he said.
You can find the "Incident Report" on the Run Philly website that Abramson had created just a few months ago to be a resource for the city. For him, adding this database to the site just seemed a natural extension of the site's purpose.
He hopes that the data collected will be instrumental in pinpointing areas that might need more patrols as well as problematic intersections where frequent collisions with vehicles occur.
The incident report is easy to fill out. You are just asked to describe the incident (Were you verbally harassed, physically assaulted or involved in a collision?), give the date of the incident, time of day, and a little description of what happened. Then you are asked to indicate your gender (optional) and the location of the incident.
Abramson's plan is to catalogue all the data through the fall when the running season will be winding down and then create a heatmap to illustrate any trouble hot spots in the city.
When asked if he had any hunches of what this project will uncover, he said," I am expecting to see more incidents of harassment (the petty little cat-calling type of thing) than anything else. We are out there so much especially during training that there are a lot more chances to run into an issue."
He added though that most runners go on runs without incident. "My hope is that no one will have to use the report, but it is there if they do."
Next time you face a problem on your run, make sure you document it at http://www.runphil.ly/incident-report.html so you can help out your fellow runners.