Philadelphia is a relatively safe city for running. It has great running paths through beautiful parks and lots of running clubs. That being said, Philadelphia is a large city and, as such, comes with crime and other dangers that you will find in any large metropolitan area.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
Please keep in mind: These are guidelines only. Following these guidelines does not guarantee that you will be safe at all times. Likewise, there are many people who don't follow many or any of these guidelines and have never had any problems. We put these guidelines here as suggestions only because we believe that following them will reduce the risk of harm coming to you while running in Philadelphia. The goal of this page is not to make you think that Philly is so unsafe for running that you should join a gym and use a treadmill all year round. The goal is to make you understand that Philly is unsafe enough that you should take precautions, but that it is safe enough that if you do take these precautions you greatly decrease the risk of any harm coming to you.
Please see this crime bulletin for information regarding somebody who has committed several assaults in the last few years -- Rendering of suspect
• Take a self-defense class. Our member, Shanley, has taken a class at Urban Defense Center and highly recommends it. Please see their website at www.phillyurbandefense.com or call 267-974-0287.
• Here's a video from Runners Connect with some more tips from Todd Williams, a two-time Olympian and black-belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.
• ALWAYS CARRY ID!! Either stuff your driver's license in your sock or get some ID specifically meant for running. Or put the phone number of your significant other in permanent marker on your running shoes.
• Park in a well lit area. Survey the surrounding area as you're driving in and before exiting your car or turning off your engine. If anyone looks suspicious, move to a different parking area. In the dark, drive your car around in a circle before parking so that your headlights light up all corners of the parking area. See our main map for parking.
• Store valuables in the trunk of your car or leave them at home. Don't leave anything visible. If your car has a separate trunk lockout mechanism, use it to prevent people from breaking a window to access your trunk. Put things in your trunk quickly. Don't spend a lot of time rummaging through your trunk while your back is turned to everyone else.
• When coming back to your car, survey the surrounding area from afar. When you approach your car, walk all the way around it before getting in. Once in the car, lock it immediately, start the engine and drive off. Don't hang around talking on your phone or tuning the radio.
• Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep your eye out for suspicious people. If anything or anyone does not feel right, go in a different direction.
• If you're not familar with the area, ask a local runner (not just a local) before heading out for a run. Even if you are going for a short run, it will likely be long enough to take you from one neighborhood to another, and possibly to a less safe part of town.
• If you're running at night, wear reflective gear. Reflective clothing, arm and/or ankle bands, blinking LED lights, reflector vests or clothing made with Illuminite are all recommended.
• Whenever possible, run with somebody else. This greatly reduces your likelihood of being attacked. Run with a partner, a team, a running club or a dog. Dogs are a great deterrent if you don't have another person to run with.
• If you need to find somebody to run with outside of our scheduled runs, try our message board. Likewise, if you would like to run with somebody to the Art Musuem meetup spot or would like somebody to run home with you or need a ride home after the runs, check out our message board and/or ask around when you come to a run.
• Don't forget there are other clubs in Philly with runs scheduled at different times and different locations. Most of these clubs also have their own message boards. Go here to see other clubs in Philly.
• Don't run with headphones, particularly after dark. If you must wear headphones, stay on the most populated trails and streets (see below).
• If you're running after dark, always run with a partner. Again, if you must run alone after dark, see below for our recommendations on the safest trails. Use our message board to find a partner outside of our scheduled runs.
• Carry pepper spray at all times. Get some in a hand mitt meant to be easily held while running and easy to access/use (and harder for somebody to get it away from you). A LOUD whistle and/or personal alarm/siren/strobe light is a good idea too.
• Keep in mind that weather plays a role in determining how safe any particular running route is. There will always be more people out and about on a beautiful day. Your favorite running route on a foul weather day may have significantly fewer people on it and therefore may not be as safe.
Here are some recommended routes: Please keep in mind: although these routes are generally safe and we feel that they are some of the safest places to run in Philly, there are no guarantees. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and do not run anywhere that you do not feel safe. Along with these routes, any streets that you consider safe for walking are generally safe for running too. Likewise, don't run on any streets where you wouldn't go if you were just walking around.
• Path from Locust Street "donut" (map) up to Lloyd Hall. Generally safe, but less safe after dark. If you want to access Kelly Drive from Center City after dark (or before sunrise), run up 22nd Street to Ben Franklin Parkway.
• Ben Franklin Parkway from 16th and Arch up to the Art Museum. Safest 6:30am to 7pm, longer hours when it's light out.
• Kelly Drive from Art Museum to St. Joe's Boathouse (the lone boathouse next to the gigantic parking lot about 2.5 miles out from the Art Museum). Safest 6:30am to 7pm, longer hours when it's light out.
• Manayunk towpath: Safe during daylight hours within Manayunk. We don't recommend going beyond Manayunk on the towpath without a partner.
• Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon section of the park (map): Safe during daylight hours on the weekends, safest closer to Valley Green Inn. We don't recommend the ridge trails above Forbidden Drive unless you're with someone.
• Rittenhouse Square: Doing laps of Rittenhouse Square may make you dizzy, but if you must run alone during off-peak hours, this is probably your best bet. Generally safe 6am-10pm, later on weekends.
Less Recommended Routes. Popular running routes best done only with a partner:
• Martin Luther King/West River Drive.
• Kelly Drive from East Falls Bridge northwest to Ridge Ave, across Ridge Ave to the path along the Wissahickon Creek and Lincoln Drive up to the Forbidden Drive trailhead parking lot (map). (Please note: this is an essential part of the long run route from Art Museum to Northwestern Ave, so if you're planning this long run, take somebody with you).
• Towpath out to Valley Forge beyond Manayunk.
• Fairmount park trails in East and West Fairmount Park up above Kelly Drive and MLK/West River Drive.
• Lemon Hill (map). Parts of Lemon Hill are not lit at all and therefore not recommended after dark.
• Ridge trails above Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon section of the park.