Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Strava: Friend or Foe?

Seems almost everybody is on Strava these days, just like Facebook. Some active people upload all their workouts on Strava. I've been uploading most of my activities since this spring. Strava's database is open, which means any third part app can access the millions of tracks logged into Strava.

I just learned of another nifty Strava app, Multiple Ride Mapper.  You can enter your Strava athlete ID number and date range, and the app will pull all of your rides into a single interactive Google map at once. Here are screen shots of the three areas I've ridden in so far this year, the northeast, Arizona and Colorado.

The northeast. Sad I haven't visited Maine this year.

Arizona. Rectangular loop in middle was 100km death-march Dave and I
did this spring.

Colorado and New Mexico

I'd zoom in further in southern New Hampshire, but I'm afraid I'd incriminate myself. That brings me to the point of this post. Strava may seem like all fun and games, but it is increasingly being used against cyclists. You've probably heard of the cases out west where pedestrians and cyclists have been killed while riders were attempting to regain KOMs. Strava data was used as evidence in civil trails.

Last Sunday I ran in the Middlesex Fells. I used to ride there a lot until it became just too hostile of a place to ride. Little has changed. There are multiple websites documenting mountain biking transgressions against the land and other trail users. Friends of the Fells has always been hostile towards cycling in the Fells. Check out the article in right column. You may want to see the anti-mountain biking video they recently put up on YouTube. Our adversaries can be quite resourceful.

Not only are riders publicly documenting their high-speed prowess in a highly used trail system, they are doing it on illegal trails. This can't make the mountain biking community look good when petitioning the DCR for greater access.

Private landowners have also become aware of Strava and search for people trespassing on their land. I've learned of local cases where this has happened with riders being confronted by landowners later after they trespassed.

If you ride posted private property or illegal trails, please don't broadcast it to those who will use it against us. If you ride unposted or questionably legit trails, carefully consider posting these rides on Strava. Even if you label the ride private, it is still in the data base and can be accessed. I demonstrated this a while back.

Hopefully I can added another cluster of tracks in dead center of the country over this weekend. With visiting Michigan over the holidays, that tallies up to about a quarter of the states biked in this year.


CB2 said...

I "think" most of my riding is on the up and up and have little worry about incriminating myself. But just like facebook, Strava could give away your activities to individuals you might prefer not know them like your employer. I can imagine someone calling in on a beautiful day, going for a ride and being busted the next day because their boss was following them.

ChrisS said...

If you ride an illegal trail, that's one thing; uploading that to Strava is just stupid. At least, if you do, mark it as "private".

Has anyone gone through the trails on the FOTF video, and seen which ones are actually illegal? MTB use at the Fells is not banned - it is just restricted to some trails (and as far as I know those trails have no speed limit).

the bully said...

Speaking of Strava. When you get back make sure you check out the new "Pipeline Trail" in Merrimack, and we're also flagging yet another Greens Pond trail this Saturday.