// King of the Mountain: Strava Under Pressure
Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
Recently, the popular biking app Strava has come under some serious heavy fire. For those of you unfamiliar with Strava, let me explain: this app uses a smartphone or a GPS device to determine the distance and speed of a cyclist’s ride. What differentiates this from other cycling mapping apps is the social feature. The current controversy stems from the fact that Strava will compare your ride to others who have ridden the same route, crowning the person with the fastest time as King of the Mountain.
Cool, right? I’ve often been curious as to the speed and distance of my rides. Unfortunately, the competitive nature of the human race has resulted in a couple of tragic incidents where a rider pushes the limits of safety attempting to claim this “KOM” title.
In one accident, cyclist Kim Flint was attempting to re-claim his crown down a serious slope in Berkeley’s Tilden Park. A car pulled out in front of him, forcing him to suddenly hit the brakes and flip over the front of his bike. His injuries proved to be fatal. The family of Flint has filed a suit against Strava, claiming it is irresponsible and supports the reckless cycling exhibited by their lost family member. Strava subsequently labeled the street Flint was riding on as hazardous, and has even removed the leaderboard for this section. They also updated their terms of service the week which the suit was filed, adding more specific wording to prevent any future lawsuits in case of injury.
As a cyclist and fellow Strava user, I must admit that I very much doubt that Kim would want this lawsuit to be filed. In fact, let me now make it clear that if I am to perish on a ride during which I have Strava running, I do not wish to have Strava held accountable.
I believe that eliminating the leaderboard for the road on which Flint was riding is an unnecessary concession. We all must act responsibly while on the streets, even if someone has a recorded time faster than ours. One rider on a blog site made a good point when he described this analogous scenario: “I jot down a list of people I know with their times on a fast section of road then leave it on a bulletin board and someone can sue me for some idiot who reads it and now wants to topple those times…”
Although I wouldn’t have chosen quite so harsh words to describe a fallen fellow rider, I do agree with his opinion regarding the amount of accountability Strava should face. This lawsuit may have some serious effects on Strava’s format, but hopefully nothing so dramatic that would cause it to lose its appeal.