Sunday, July 01, 2012

16 Ethics of Strava Usage

You wonder whether these Strava users are throwing all the things we knew about group riding etiquette right out the window? Group rides should be competitive every now and then, no issues there. But Strava users consistently using group rides as a slingshot to attack and get KOM and other what have you is...I mean let's face it...its irritating. The rest of the group, including weaker riders, are left lingering in disarray. These guys should ride on their own if such is their agenda. Lets see them get out on a hot day, without any help from others and achieve the same things they brag about. Bah...

So, should they draft an Ethics caveat addressed to Strava addicts? Your thoughts on my rant?


  1. Declaring that they use " Strava " would be required as a starter then if they choose to set off on their personal KOM quest they should clearly announce that quest before starting the group ride !
    So often a group ride gets disrupted by a member getting a puncture and it is not acceptable that those with other goals in mind leaving them to their own devices . " Mateship " is what group rides are about , not scoring on your mates !

    Friendly rivalry is one thing but i see no value in looking in the webpage to see how you stand vis a vis some unknown quantity ?
    Who holds the record for the L'Alpe d'huez climb ? From where to where with what weather conditions ? Too many variables to make for " bragging rights "!

  2. To those who refuse to believe virtual races on bike paths and city streets do not make us all less safe, I have a bridge to sell you.
    Modern life is already too full of dick-swinging assholes as it is, and Strava® only ups the ante.
    There is a fundamental difference between racing your buddies for fun, and a company that profits from inciting racing. Killing yourself chasing a KOM is one thing, but killing a bystander is another thing entirely. That is criminal behavior, aided and abetted by Strava®.
    Selling beer is OK. Selling guns is OK.
    But- you don't put a drive through beer stand on the freeway on-ramp, and you don't sell guns and ammo to the crowd outside the stadium after a losing soccer match. It is only common sense, a commodity that is increasingly scarce these daze!

  3. Strava is an app to upload gps tracks and see your tracks compared to other riders. Nothing more. The fact that so many see so much evil ( or glory) in this simple technological feat is indicative more of road cycling and the culture of people it attracts than of the technology itself.

  4. Anonymous2:04 AM

    Strava is fun app, but if people use it at wrong times, just like anything else I suppose its bad.

  5. If you don't like them, ban them from your group.

  6. Strava is interesting data. Nothing more & nothing less... The same person who risks his/her safety (and others) to break a PR on a any stretch of road or trail (or segment) would still be taking these ridiculous risks if they were timing themselves by their watch, bike computer, or sundial. The current anti-Strava logic coursing through the innerwebs is hilarious in its hypocrisy; I've seen many, many old school group rides (pre-Strava/pre-bike computer) degenerate into unbelievable displays of "kill or be killed" group peloton psychosis when sprinting for that proverbial "town sign." That asshat who crosses a double-yellow in a group ride(or solo) was doing it before he/she was uploading his/her GPS tracks to Strava. Riders (esp. the fast ones) were always "consistently using group rides as a slingshot to attack..." since groups of people started riding their bikes together to get fitter and more skilled. The anti-Strava hullabaloo smacks of the same anti-bike dogma espoused around the turn of the century.

  7. Anonymous3:15 AM

    Strava isn't the only gps enabled way to compare yourself to others, Garmin does it too. It's all dangerous. Distraction is dangerous, racing in non-supported environments is way more dangerous than racing, add to that that road riding is dangerous to begin with.

    I stopped using Strava, it was fun but not for the right reasons. It was narcissistic and the design encourages unhealthy competition. I don't think they intended for anyone to get hurt, but the design of the app is definitely part of the problem.

    1. Blaming Strava's design for misuse or "unhealthy competition" is akin to blaming a fancy speedometer in a new Ferrari for reckless driving and speed...

  8. John Siviour4:30 AM

    I doubt "Strava" intended or foresaw all the consequences now apparent. However there was/is more action they could have taken/take.

    "Nice idea and we can make some money." late on that list would be consideration of possible consequences.

    Included is the usual legal caveats.

    A better idea would be to have a statement of intentions up front. This could include mission:

    Friendly, sensible competition having regard to others first with your time second
    Etiquette and ethics could also be included for the: ill informed, ignorant or downright Neanderthal.

    Having this statement as a priority rather than limited to a small print legal addendum, would indicate the priority/importance accorded such intentions.

    As Strava currently exists there is plenty of room for mutual finger pointing/blaming and legal suits galore.

  9. Anonymous11:34 AM

    As a mountain biker, I agree it can change behavior on a ride. Many groups will regroup frequently to make sure no one got lost, hurt, or had a mechanical. I know at least one rider who doesn't wait as often and I might be stopping less frequently on the longer downhill runs just to see how I compare with others. If I'm doing it to some extent, others are most certainly endangering others by pushing harder on the downhills.

    I agree Strava probably didn't intend or forsee the potential problems, but they've added a bit to the danger. A few weeks ago an engineer in is forties killed himself on a Strava run and the family's suing (this is from memory, so may have my facts wrong). I find it hard to believe that an obviously intelligent, educated adults suit will win, but what about a 12 year old?

  10. Glad to see you back Ron!
    And what is Strava? Guess I must be really out of times.

  11. I guess the Strava (and other alike systems) users have a different mentality. I do ride with a Garmin Forerunner, and yes, it registers where I've been, and how fast I was. I mainly use it on the bike to keep my heart rate in check, and I keep the tracks just because I like to see where I've been.

    Yeah, it's nice to see 50mph on your dial in a descent, but I won't push it to reach 55mph, just because I've seen the top rank has done 53mph on that stretch. I guess some would.

    Having said that, it doesn't mean I won't put the hammer down when it's within the physical parameters I've set myself for that particular ride.

  12. Anonymous4:32 PM

    I don't use Strava myself, but you've managed to sell it to me, I've always wanted a polka dot jersey!

  13. The cheaters will remain, regardless of any sort of honor code. Rules are broken in racing all the time, group ride ethics and etiquette are completely disregarded, etc. That's been going on since long before Strava came to be. Strava just makes a good scapegoat for such people and their lawyers.

  14. In response, I will first ask a question. Let us consider skateboarders and street lugers. I want especially to look at skateboarders who are practicing in public areas. IF such "events" are controlled, it will be without government sanction. Usually these folks just go and do it. Got the picture?

    When a street luger, or a skateboarder who suddenly enters traffic, dies because they collide with a moving vehicle, who is responsible? What is the phsychological impact on the driver of the car? When a skateboarder is injured without involving someone else, who is responsible?

    I think all of your readers would agree that the skateboarder or street luger is responsible for any injury to themselves. However, how does that change when somebody has to live with the fact that the car they were driving killed another person? How does that change when the responsible party - the skateboarder or street luger - kills someone else? Are they somehow now not responsible?

    What I think is going to happen is that Strava is going to die as a company. They can not survive - and here is why. Just as Napster ran into the law, so will Strava. Strava is not the skateboarder or street luger, but what they do is broadcast, to anyone who will listen, "Hey, street luger! Here is the street for you!" This gives them contributory responsibility when someone who did NOT know that street now goes there. It is akin to shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater.

    Because GPS is growing, some route systems will survive. How they will manage the competitive angle (in the future) is yet to be seen.

    Having said all that - yes - without a doubt - these services should draft ethics statements. Like the release you sign when you race, it will not protect them entirely, but it will be a start.

    Also, for club rides, there should be segregation. I think it should be just like that many clubs already do - if you are going to "compete" - you go with the other riders who "compete". If the club rides don't segregate, in most cities the club rides will eventually lose riders they could have kept.

  15. Larry says, "Wanna race? Buy a license, pin on a number and have at it. All the rest, Strava included, is just jacking off." Strava's nothing more than a computerized way for the same bozos who lack the cojones to actually get out there and race (where everyone can see who wins and loses) to pump up fragile egos with phony "races" where they can control the conditions. As cycling becomes the "new golf" this stupidity is likely to increase.


Thank you. I read every single comment.