Skip to main content

Woman launches petition to limit size of running clubs in Toronto

People can be seen running in Toronto, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jessica Lee People can be seen running in Toronto, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jessica Lee

A woman has launched a petition after she says she was nearly knocked over by groups of runners on Toronto sidewalks twice in the last year.

“When a group of 50 people is running at you on the sidewalk, there’s nowhere to go,” Zulf, the Toronto resident who launched the petition on Dec. 21, told CTV News Toronto Thursday.

Zulf, who asked that her surname be omitted, said the first encounter took place over the summer while walking with her sister.

“Within a matter of seconds, a running club turns the corner and there's 50-plus people. Half of them are on the sidewalk, half of them are on the street, and there's literally nowhere for us to go.”

It was the second incident, months later, that she said prompted her to launch the petition. During that encounter, which took place in late December, she said she passed a smaller group of five or six runners, one of which hit her “hard on the shoulder.”

"To the point where the guy that hit me almost fell over," she said. "It was ridiculous."

Since sharing the petition, alongside a TikTok on the topic that has since amassed nearly three million views, Zulf said she's received "so many" messages from other Torontonians with similar stories.

One person who signed the petition wrote that they’d encountered the same problem “many times,” adding that groups "should be restricted to under 20 people and have spacing requirements.”

Others have been less supportive, said Zulf.

“I get it, it's not scenic and it's not ideal, but if you choose to do a group activity workout, typically those are held in parks or areas that don't bother anyone, so don't see why running would be any different,” she said.

When Toronto running coach Jamie Corrales came across Zulf's TikTok, he left a comment apologizing on behalf of the community. 

"We're all guilty of this," he wrote. "We are trying to work on it."

When reached for further comment on Thursday, Corrales told CTV News Toronto that Toronto's running community is "exceptionally respectful, inclusive, and heartwarming."

Corrales himself leads a club with an estimated 40 to 50 runners, all of whom he said do their best to share the sidewalk safely and practice considerate etiquette.

"For example, staying on one side of the sidewalk, using hand signals or verbal cues to pedestrians or other runners, and stopping when we hit a yellow or red light," he said. "We also let everyone know our route in advance to keep things organized and ensure nobody gets left behind."

Corrales said that he hopes a few bad actors won't colour the city's opinion of the sport.

"Sure, you might run into a few folks who aren't up to speed on running etiquette, but that is not a representative of the whole running community," he said.

At the time of publication, the petition had garnered just over 400 signatures.

Russell Baker, the City of Toronto’s manager of media relations and issues management, said in a statement to CTV News Toronto that the city “encourages running groups with large memberships to be considerate and mindful of those they share public spaces with during their activity.”

Permits are not required or issued for “impromptu” events, he said.

When an event requires a street closure, Baker said the city works with organizers to help ensure a safe environment for all. Top Stories

Here's where The Body Shop is closing in Canada

The Body Shop Canada Ltd. is shutting down more than 30 stores across Canada. The renowned beauty brand announced Friday it will start immediately liquidating nearly a third of its 105 stores.

First-time homebuyer incentive discontinued: CMHC

Canada's housing agency says it is ending the first-time homebuyer incentive program. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the deadline for new or updated submissions to the program is midnight eastern time on March 21.

Stay Connected