This week's BWL column focuses on the dangers of walking while distracted.
Not surprisingly, the 18-24 age group was highest in both being the bumpee and the bumper, while age 65-plus was the least affected – just what you’d expect based on overall use of cell phones. The kind of phone also played a factor, with smartphones (which give users more ways to distract themselves) more than twice as likely to cause an unintended interaction than non-smartphones. What was surprising was that the likelihood of distraction was pretty equal from urban to rural settings so you can’t blame it purely on the hustle and bustle of the big city.
So using a handheld electronic device while walking is not only dangerous to you as a walker, but another study (isn’t there always another study?) found that walking while texting is even bad for your body. The issue here is that walking in many ways can be more physically demanding than driving – you do it standing and moving, it takes a host of integrated actions and reactions, and is more subject to possible injury due to bad form and function.
Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia watched (and filmed) while 28 volunteers walked down a hallway without a phone, while reading a long text on a phone and while writing a long text on a phone.
The results? Texting distorted the walkers’ gaits and form, making them more upright and rigid, particularly in their upper bodies. Their steps became shorter and less in a straight line. Just like distracted driving, one tends to mimic actions of those who are under the influence.
Possible outcomes? Higher likelihood of tripping or running into other objects, plus greater likelihood of neck and shoulder pain. More concerning: Researchers posited that the subjects seemed to “prioritize texting” over things like maintain balance – something usually the highest on the body’s list.
The risk left unmentioned was less physical but perhaps more painful – making a fool of yourself via distracted walking. Not only could you embarrass yourself to the people around you, but if some sage soul has their own phone handy (and are paying enough attention to use it), you could be the subject of a viral video such as the woman in Australia (notice a trend here?) who walked off a pier while engrossed in her Facebook friends on her smartphone.
You might not die of embarrassment – but you could be actually be killed or seriously hurt if you walk distracted into traffic and get struck by a passing vehicle. That’s why we encourage you to pay attention to your walking especially when you’re out in traffic. You can’t be certain what the other people sharing your space might be paying attention to… and in case it’s not you, you’ll need to pay enough attention to your walk for everyone else on the streets or sidewalks.
— BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at BikeWalkLee.org.Upcoming events
• Friday, July 4: Freedom 5K, 2051 Cape Coral Parkway East (at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge). This race is among the few that lets you runs over the bridge overlooking the Caloosahatchee. A portion of the proceeds to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Entry fees $20 until June 25; $25 to July 3; $5 day of. Reduced rates for age 17 and under. Registration opens 6:30 a.m., race 7:30 a.m. (ftmyerstrackclub.com/)
• Saturday, June 28: Sugden Stride 5K, Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. Entry $28 before, $35 day of, $21 students, $72 summer series. Race starts 7 a.m. (eliteevents.org/sugden-stride-5k.html).
• Saturday, July 28: Eagle Lakes 5K, Eagle Lakes Community Park, 11565 Tamiami Trail East, Naples. Entry $28 before, $35 day of, $21 students. Race starts 7 a.m. (eliteevents.org/eagle-lakes-extreme-5k.html)
• Saturday, June 21: Summer Sizzler 5K, Jaycee Park, Cape Coral. Entry $20 adult, $15 youth, $25 day of. Race starts at 7 a.m. (3dracinginc.com/races.asp)
• Saturday, July 19: Beat The Heat 5K, Jaycee Park, Cape Coral. Entry $20 adult, $15 youth, $25 day of. Race starts at 7 a.m. (3dracinginc.com/races.asp)
• Saturday, Aug. 9: Cape 5K, Jaycee Park, Cape Coral. Entry $20 adult, $15 youth, $25 day of. Race starts at 7 a.m. (3dracinginc.com/races.asp)
Cycling & other events:
• Sunday, July 6: Wheels and Wings V Bicycle Ride. 62/32/15 mile rides and a 10-mile gentlemen's mass start race within the 62-mile route. Speed Trap Alley -- break the speed limit and receive a written warning from Punta Gorda Police, suitable for framing. Mystery Ride for the 15 milers. Beef O'Bradys 1105 Taylor Road, Punta Gorda. $30 includes ride, SAG stops, T-shirt, 10 Wings and two drinks (peaceriverridersbicycleclub.com/)
• Sunday, July 6: Naples American Sprint Duathlon and Triathlon, Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. Sprint triathlon or run/bike/run Duathlon. Pre-registration $79, race day $99, relay team $119. Race starts 7 a.m. (eliteevents.org/naples-american-sprint-duathlon-and-triathlon.html)
• Saturday, July 19: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon, Englewood Beach, 2100 N. Beach Rd., Englewood. 7 a.m. start. $70 individuals, $140 teams to June 9. (southcountyfamilyymca.org)
• Sept. 13-14: Registration is now open for the fourth annual Galloway Captiva Tri weekend. Saturday is the kids’ day with three age groups (6-8, 9-10 and 11-13) enjoying the fun of multisports. Sunday, the adults take to the water and roadways in a sprint triathlon (swim/bike/run) covering all of Captiva Island. Spaces are limited for all events, so register now – no waiting lists this year. Information at captivatri.org.
• Sunday, Oct. 5: Marco Island Triathlon 2014, Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, 400 South Collier, Marco Island. 8 a.m. start $85 individuals, $160 teams (thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com)