A Chair Pusher’s Guide: Pushing Etiquette

Cactus Fest 5k Dundas 2009 - aChilling before race start at the Dundas Ontario Cactus Festival 5 km, July 2009

 Pushing and running solo are two different beasts. When you are running solo, you can easily dodge around dogs, walkers, runners, cars and other obstacles. You also provide a very small obstacle to those around you. When you are pushing a running chair, you make a bigger target and you have more things to consider.


You will have to stop the mass of the runner, chair and occupant. You just can’t stop or turn on a dime. That means you have to plan your stops and anticipate what other people are doing around you.

Turning & Maneuvering

Just as with stopping, you can’t turn as quickly with a chair as you can by yourself. Be aware and make allowances for distances and obstacles around you.


When passing runners and pedestrians, let them know you are there and on which side you are passing. Give other trail and road users enough time to process and react. Surprising people is not a good thing. This is where the bell or horn comes in. I have found that the following routine works for me.

  1. Ring the bell to announce your presence.
  2. Say where you are going. For example, “Passing on your left.”
  3. Slow down if you have to. Give right of way to everyone else.
  4. Smile, wave and say thank-you as you pass.

Rules Of The Road

Follow the rules of the road. Pass to the left when possible, run on the sidewalk when you can, stay in bike lanes when you can’t, and run facing traffic. Use common sense and keep yourself and the chair occupant safe.

Be Seen, Be Heard

Make you and the buggy as visible as possible. Generous use of lights, flashers and reflectors are needed to let people see you. A bell or horn is absolutely essential to let people know you are approaching.

Note to self: Never give Amanda the button for an air horn. She won’t stop pressing it. It also scares the crap out of runners in front of you and causes them to jump into your lane, defeating the whole purpose of the horn.

Safety First

Assume that other pedestrians, runners, cyclists and motorists are out to get you. They might not be, but in this case a little paranoia goes a long way. The rule is to anticipate and give way.

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