By Rachel Gardner
A RUNNING club with more than 100 members has asked Bristol City Council for permission to run on roads after pedestrians complained about being forced off pavements.
Southville Running Club, which meets every Tuesday and Thursday at The South Bank Club in Dean Lane, tried to get official permission after complaints emerged on the GreaterBedminster Community Partnership website.
Some pedestrians claimed that having so many runners using the pavements at 6.30pm was “anti-social”.
One resident posting on the site even called it “mob-bullying”.
Samantha Furley recently posted a comment to the running club.
It said: “I regularly walk along the route that your club takes on a Tuesday and Thursday and am frequently pushed past or forced to walk in the road by your members who display little concern for those they are clearly inconveniencing.
“I have yet to see your members run in single file, nor is there any evidence of anyone coordinating such a large group.
“To have that many runners at one time and in one place is anti-social at best.
“At worse, this equates to mob- bullying and is downright dangerous.
“I am certainly not the only resident who holds this opinion, and I especially pity those who are walking with young children and pets. I, for one, am frustrated by fighting through your members twice a week.”
Dave Williams, chairman of the running club, told the Evening Post he had seen the comments posted on the website and had also received two emails from disgruntled pedestrians.
“I always use the forum, because it’s a great way to connect with the community,” he said.
“During our pre-run meet, the entire group is split into five or six running groups and are briefed on where they will be going.
“Each group normally consists of no more than 20 people.
“These groups are then led by trained group leaders who lead and co-ordinate their group.
“The group leaders are briefed and aware of our club standard which is to be aware of and respect pedestrians and cyclists.
“Runners are always asked to observe common street courtesy and have consideration for other pavement users.”
Mr Williams said that there were suggestions on the website that instead of running on the pavements the group could get official permission to run on the 20mph roads in the area, or on cycle or bus lanes.
He rang Bristol City Council’s highways department but was told the council was unable to give the group official permission and said members should use common sense.
Mr Williams said he found this “disappointing” .
“In Bedminster we have an initiative called ‘Take back the Streets’ where we try to discourage cars and get permission to close roads and hold street parties,” he said.
“I thought this would link in with that and be a great community initiative.”
A Bristol City Council spokesman said: “There are no hard and fast rules, but we would just urge common sense.
“If the club feels it’s safe to
run on residential roads and they are not causing a problem for passing traffic, then we’d leave it to their judgement and common sense.
“Clearly if there are a large number of runners, or it’s a more formal race, or they wish to run on the main roads then we would ask them to get in touch with our highways team.”