Social distancing while outside

How to protect yourself and others while walking, running and cycling outside.

I have been “exercising” social distancing, stay-at-home, and shelter-in-place behavior for the past week now. I am working from home while my child plays and learns online like hopefully, most Americans who are able, are also doing. Now I do go outside as a daily runner and dog owner, and also so my child and I can get some much needed exercise and stress relief. Before we started to go off, I told my son that if he sees another person on the sidewalk to ride around them in the grass so we can maintain at minimum a 6ft distance between us and others.

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Now at the beginning of our daily lunch break bike rides, my son was practically falling off his bike while trying to ride around each person he saw. We came across a lot of families and friends walking side-by-side and in small groups on the sidewalks, Mom’s and Dad’s with strollers, couples with multiple dogs, etc. and none of them were moving over, moving aside, or moving into the grass. When we moved over there were a lot of looks of surprise, which got me thinking. Do people not believe in social distancing? Do people know what social distancing entails? Are people wondering who should move over? Do I move over too? Do they know social distancing means 6 feet? Do they know what 6 feet is? One thing I do know, my running shoes were soaking wet!

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I keep people at least 3 feet away by not shaving my legs 🙂 It works!

So I decided take this observation of sidewalk etiquette in the new era of social distancing to the internet and more specifically, to my community on NextDoor. This is what I posted:

May I respectfully request that if you are walking, running and cycling on the sidewalk that you please make an effort to move away from others who are passing you. I have been walking, running and cycling every day since this outbreak hit Florida and I am practicing social distancing and working from home, as a socially conscientious citizen and neighbor. Every time I see someone approaching me or my child, we both make every effort to move 6 feet away. Unfortunately, we have only been given the same due respect a couple of times. Like the beaches, if we cannot abide the recommendations, we will lose the privilege of being able to go outside. If you don’t believe in the current pandemic and social distancing, than please respect the people who do. Speaking my truth with love. Thank you”.

And the responses have really gotten me thinking….

“This needs to happen in grocery store lines”. (People aren’t social distancing in grocery stores either. Grocery stories aren’t communicating to customers or organizing how to social distance in our local grocery stores).

“I walk everyday since I stopped going to the gym and given that the width of the sidewalk is less than 6ft, it would be impossible to do so without one or both getting on to the lawn. But I do walk as far to the right of the sidewalk that I can without getting on the lawn”. (Some people don’t want or think they can walk on grass?)

More people than ever are outside exercising because their gyms and pools are closed.

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“Speaking for myself I’m more than happy for anyone to walk on my lawn if it helps them maintain that distance from someone else walking past!” (This person outweighs the the benefit of social distancing with the cost of trampled grass.)

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I run daily with my dog and if I see anyone come near us I make it a point to run on the lawn.. not sure why it’s difficult for some? It’s grass… it won’t bite.”

My response- “Me too. I will add, people please pick up your dog poop. Now that I am running and riding more in the grass, it is harder to avoid!”

Stepping in dog poop is a barrier to social distancing and social distancing increases the probability of stepping in dog poo 😦

April Ingram that is really important since more people are outdoors now.. thanks p For pointing that out”. (The majority of comments were polite and people were appreciative of my request and bringing up the issue).

Which brings me to my conclusion, this is new territory. We as a community, as neighbors, as people, don’t know what to do EXACTLY. We don’t know what the rules of etiquette or engagement are for social distancing on sidewalks and outside and we need some help if we want people to social distance.

So here are my suggestions from my community…

“yes I agree and they also have the other side of the street’s side walk. It’s not like it’s that packed most of the time. However it seems like I’m the only one volleying from side to side. Also you can still say hello to neighbors instead of looking away (kinda creepy/apocalyptic to me). People can be very weird during times like this but I think we just need to practice common courtesy, common sense and common kindness. Be well.”

“I like to walk in the evening, so here are my general rules of (dis)engagement: If I see people walking dogs or pushing baby carriages, I move off the sidewalk into the street until I go past them. It is easier and safer for me to do this than for them to do so. If I am walking with a friend and people are approaching us on the sidewalk, we line up single file on the very right side of the sidewalk so we can move past quickly without touching each other. What is frustrating is when others do not line up single file but rather continue walking abreast so that we all have to crowd past each other or trample people’s lawns. I have even seen groups of people just congregating on the sidewalks with their dogs and baby carriages, chatting away so that other walkers are forced to make a wide berth around them, going into streets or onto lawns. We need to all be considerate of others and not expect others to always move out of our way.”

Two keys points here I agree with: groups walking together should line up single file behind each other; and move to the right. I cannot emphasize moving to the right enough. Just like when you are cycling and trying to pass someone from behind, you always announce politely, “On your left”. Or if you are walking, running and cycling, keeping to the right so others can pass you.

Here are some of my “rules of social distancing” that I completely created in my head but that I accept as common courtesy:

  1. If I see someone or people who look elderly or has a physical impairment, I move off the sidewalk when passing them;

2. If I see someone with a stroller than I move off the sidewalk;

3. If I see kids by themselves, I move off the sidewalk and away from them. I think every parent or guardian can appreciate this. It cannot be assumed that kids are mature enough to know how to safely and politely move away 6 feet from someone;

4. Who am I kidding, I move off the sidewalk for everyone.

UPDATE: Since I posted on NextDoor I have noticed people moving off the sidewalk for me too 🙂 Yeah! This may be from leading by example. Another way to guarantee some ongoing compliance? Say, “THANK YOU!” and smile.

I’d love to read your comments about unspoken rules of sidewalk engagement and social distancing outside! Please comment below and let me know what you are doing and what you would like to see done when you or your family members are outside walking, running and cycling on sidewalks.

Finally for all my public health practitioners out there, I saw this today in regards to health communications. “Social distancing” is a new term to the majority of people. Most people don’t know what it entails. As health communicators, we need to help define what it means and communicate in messages that give people clear, known, specific, doable and concrete behaviors and actions. This is our challenge. I feel a social marketing project coming on….

Thank you for reading!

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Local, National and World Information Resources

Resources for information in Tampa

If you are in Tampa, you can sign up for City and Hillsborough County updates via text message:

Text TAMPAREADY to 888-777 for updates.
Envia TAMPALISTA al 888-777 para espanol

Resources for information in Florida

Florida residents can call the following line in Florida for more information, as well as where you can get tested, and what to do if you suspect you may have the virus.

Call 1(866) 779-6121 for the COVID-19 Call Center

If you suspect you have the virus, DO NOT GO DIRECTLY TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. Please call the number above h and they will tell you what to do and/or where to go.

You can email your questions to:

Resources for US and Global Citizens

I use the following references for reliable, accurate and up-to-date info:

1. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health podcast Public Health on Call ;

2. The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health website (though I noticed their interactive map was not up-to-date for certain countries)- You can get DAILY Situation Reports from the Center of Health Security. Also, this page –

3. World Health Organization

Their interactive dashboard is located here

The situational reports are located here

4. The Center for Disease Control (CDC). Here is their situation summary which is updated daily and here is their testing sites page

A friendly reminder that the coronavirus is dangerous for everyone, not just individuals over 70. Please do your part by social distancing.

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Thank you!

Top family tips for a road trip from the Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon to Sedona!

We had to go to Las Vegas to cheer on family at a basketball tournament so I thought I would take a detour and to go see the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon and Sedona. What an amazing trip! Keep reading and scrolling to see our highlights!

First stop from Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam. All I can say is get there early. We were fine and we went in July. But by the time we were done at lunchtime, it was a-blazing outside! You do have to park a little ways from the entrance and it can be dangerously hot if you aren’t hydrated and able.

There are two types of tours. Unless you are a engineer nerd (nothing wrong with that), the basic tour is good and informative.

From the Hoover Dam, we decided to take the longer but more historic Route 66 to the Grand Canyon.

There are few stops on the drive so make sure you are stocked up on water and snacks just in case.

Needles? I think this was a town but my first thought was that it was a place to dispose of intravenous needles 😦 So I was like, “peace out”.

The scenery was at times beautiful and it paints a picture of a different landscape of America, not one that I am use to coming from the east coast. And I added a quarky stop along the way…Grand Canyons Caverns.

Very interesting back history here. It’s amazing what risks people use to take. This beauty greets you upon entry. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but I will say this was a great little stop and lots of fun. If you can get past the dodgy looking elevator, you are in for a simple, little treat. There was also a little diner and shop inside for refreshments and tourist gifts.

This is where you can book a night stay inside the cave (NOPE). Apparently people get married here too. Whatever floats your boat.

 Wide open paths that any beginner could navigate. 

 I think this was a replica of an ice age groundhog? Haha. 

Grand Canyon Southern Rim

Next stop the Grand Canyon. We stayed in the Grand Canyon Village. If you aren’t taking a tour, I would definitely recommend that you book a hotel here early and stay in the village. Guided tours don’t have to wait in a big line but individual cars do. By staying in the village you have a jump start on early morning visitors and can get it early. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and it was clean and comfortable. They have an indoor pool which we enjoyed and offered coverage from the sun.

We decided to go beyond the look out sites and do some guided hikes. Again, I was traveling with a child under 8 and did not want to do anything dangerous or too extraneous. We chose All Star Grand Canyon Tours and we had a wonderful guide, lunch (provided) and day . We did a 3- hike day tour and would have done more if we had more time. The three different hiking trails were uniquely different and we were able to see a variety of landscapes and walk down into the canyon (not all the way down!). We also got to see some fossils.

I want to caution hikers, if you have unruly children or think you may fall or slip, DO NOT do any hiking tour into the canyon. There are no handrails, etc. so if you jump or fall off, that is the end of you. I am scared of heights and there were times that I was hugging the wall side with my child in between me and the wall. He was fine. And when the donkeys come by you have to move over for them, and not to the inside but the outside! Don’t let me alarm you though, most accidents happen with rafting inside the canyon.

Grand Canyon Tour provides you with a backpack to carry your items and a walking stick.
Our tour guide pointed out the fossils in the rock.
Hiking into the canyon.
Upon entering the Canyon.

When the donkey tours come by you have to move to the OUTSIDE of the path. Meaning, there are no walls or guard rails to keep you from falling.

 Our guide showing us some points at the Grand Canyon visitor center.

One reason I like tours, besides the safety of traveling with others, is that tour guides are so informative and they are usually experts on the locations. That and tour guides can gain your child’s attention better than we can. Why stress yourself out trying to educate yourself before a trip only to have your child tune you out? Try and tour, save yourself stress, learn a lot and make friends!

The visitor center was last on our tour. Great lookouts but crowded. Another reason to take a tour. Visitor Center had lots of great information and hands on exhibits.
Oh Ah Point

There was so much to do and see that it all won’t fit into one blog post! So continue reading more from Flagstaff to Sedona to the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark in the blog post “Continued…Grand Canyon to Sedona Road Trip.

New Tampa Road Safety Group

The catalyst for this group was based upon my experiences walking, cycling, running and driving around New Tampa. I had (and continue to have) too many near runs in with vehicles and witnessing really bad driving behaviour. This ranged from drivers failing to stop for me or my child in crosswalks, to parents dropping their kids off in the middle of the road to avoid the car rider line. When I started off in public health, I never expected pedestrian and cyclist safety to be my biggest focus. Yet here I am. And I think its aptly suited since public health should be identifying key issues and target populations instead of pushing agendas on communities. If you live in the New Tampa area, feel free to join our group. You can find us on Facebook and NextDoor. Our mission is to:

  • increase driver consciousness around pedestrian and cyclist safety in our neighborhood;
  • increase law enforcement presence and enforcement of road safety in our community;
  • make texting while driving a ticket-able first offense (UPDATE: this has happened!);
  • increase road design and infrastructure to make our neighborhood more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

If you live in the Cross Creek Community and are tired of people cutting in at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and Cross Creek Blvd. while taking a right hand turn onto Cross Creek Blvd. then this cause is for you! If are feel you are being mowed down by cars while walking thru a pedestrian crossing, then this cause is for you! If you are afraid of cars flying thru your residential neighborhood, get involved. By advocating  our concerns and ideas to our local law enforcement and government representatives, we can make the change we want to see.

Intersection of Wild Tamarind Drive and Bassett Creek Drive, K-Bar ranch. Flags provided by Sidewalk Stompers and Advent Health. Buckets provided by me 🙂

If you live in K-bar Ranch and would like to see a crossing guard at the intersection of Bassett Creek Dr. and Wild Tamarind Dr., then let me know! (UPDATE: We got one!). All ready I have started the campaign to install a cross walk for children attending Pride Elementary next year and I need support to push for a crossing guard (UPDATE: Got one of these too-see it pays to be an active community advocate 🙂.

Continue reading to see what we are doing in this community and what he have accomplished, as well as ways you can advocate in New Tampa or your own community to make it more pedestrian and cyclist safe.

Helpful Info

How to make a sign requestCity of Tampa.

If you are wanting to request a sign in your Tampa Neighborhood, there is a link on the City of Tampa’s website

Personally, I am advocating for better signage at the Kinnan Street Cross walk in New Tampa. If you would also like to join me, please tell our local government by making your request at the following Hillsborough County website. Ideally, the picture below is what we would like to see on Kinnan. Flashing beacons that can be activated at the crosswalk by pedestrians. Often, drivers are unaware that pedestrians have the right-of-way in any marked crosswalk, whether there are flashing beacons or not. Same as true at non-intersection crosswalks. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way in Florida. Here is the law if you don’t believe me 🙂

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UPDATE- July 2nd, 2018: Tonight New Tampa Community Members are gathering at the New Tampa public library to discuss road safety in our neighborhood. Please join us at 7pm if you would like to share specific problem areas and/or solutions in the New Tampa area. The library is located on Cross Creek Blvd. 

UPDATE- Aug. 6th, 2018: Thank you to everyone who came out July 2nd. If you want a copy of the meeting notes. Please message me your email. Also, we are looking to have our next community meeting on Aug. 13th. Please join us to hear Gena Torres from Vision Zero.

UPDATE-Aug. 2019: We got crossing guards at Benito Middle School! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for changing their policy and agreeing to provide crossing guards at middle schools AND for making Benito Middle School one of the first recipients of this change!

If you would more information on this effort, please refer to my advocacy page or contact me directly.
How many times have we seen this?

UPDATE- Nov. 2019: Pete Mirones and I met with Robert Campbell from Hillsborough County to discuss various “hot spots” around New Tampa. While we were meeting with him, we all witnessed cyclists trying to cross the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and

Cross Creek Blvd. when the pedestrian light was engaged. Unfortunately, many drivers did not yield or stop for the cyclist, even when they were in the crosswalk.


Here is a list of what we requested and the responses (italicized) we have received thus far:

Mr. Robert Campbell at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. and Cross Creek Blvd. (notice he is wearing a safety vest in broad daylight- smart man).

Cross Creek Blvd. and Bruce B. Downs Blvd (BBD)sent to Traffic Engineering

  • A “No-right-on-red” light when the Crosswalk button has been activated for both the right onto Cross Creek Blvd. from BBD and the right onto BBD from Cross Creek Blvd.;
  • Adding a sidewalk on the east side of Cross Creek Blvd. from BBD to Hunter’s Green (currently there is not one);
  • Adding barriers or bollards in or near the bike lane on Bruce B. Downs right hand turning lane into Cross Creek Blvd. to prevent cars from cutting into the right hand turning lane and creating a second turning lane;
  • Extending the median on Cross Creek Blvd. to create a Median Refuge Island for pedestrians and cyclists trying to cross Cross Creek Blvd. at the intersection;
  • Removing the current sign that says the sidewalk is closed when it isn’t at the intersection; Send to Amos Castillo for inspection
  • Changing the current sign that says yield to pedestrians to include cyclist (symbol of bike and pedestrian, as shown on other BBD signs);
Driver obstructing the crosswalk. Pedestrian light is engaged. Road safe barrier was obstructing the sidewalk. There was no need for the barrier there so Mr. Campbell had it removed for us.

Kinnan Street (crosswalk located right before Basset Creek Drive)sent to Traffic Engineering

  • Running the speed display sign at all times for 6 months, not just during school hours (there is a speed display sign there now); No
  • Adding a rapid flashing beacon at the crosswalk on Kinnan Street;
  • Raising the crosswalk;
  • Inserting a must stop for pedestrians sign in the middle of the crosswalk – No
We have asked that they run the solar powered speed sign at all times for 6 months, not just during school hours.
Requesting a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Light Beacon (RRFLB)- pedestrian activated, as well as a raised crosswalk at the crossing. This is the same crossing where a crossing guard stands in the morning and afternoon for Pride Elementary.

Fletcher Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Intersection west bound (corner of Advent Hospital)- sent to Traffic Eng and TMC Operations

  • A “No-right-on-red” light when the Crosswalk button has been activated – TMC on the progression reduction if implemented
  • Adding something to make the bike lane more secure as right now a cyclist isn’t able to use it with the amount of cars that sit in it while trying to get into the right hand land or turn right on BBD.


 Since we have met with Mr. Campbell, we have received two case numbers or work orders from Hillsborough County Traffic Engineering. They are SR333549 and WR1435824. Michael Flick from Traffic Engineering has been in contact and he was informed me that they have tasked a consultant from JMP to survey this area and our requests. Sara Bursheim from JMP is the engineer assigned to these requests from JMP. I have not had the pleasure of speaking with her yet.

Trout Creek Bridge Request

We would like to thank Mr. Campbell for not only coming out but for also for helping to remove the concrete in the gutter north of Trout Creek Bridge 🙂

As we continue to make progress and are provided updates, I will add to this post or create a new one. It is never too late to join our efforts. We need a variety of people to help out. Whether its writing a letter or attending a meeting to represent our area, your help is vital! Please feel free to join us.

Thank you for reading!

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