The post concerns a tragic incident in which a pedestrian was killed by a cyclist, and highlights an ongoing debate as to whether sites like Strava are a contributing factor. Digging a little deeper, there’s another provocative post on the site entitled “Did STRAVA.Com Help Kill Pedestrian Sutchi Hui? Timing Yourself on the “Castro Street Descent” (AKA Castro Street Bomb)”.
It seems like a no-brainer to me that bad decision making is what leads to accidents like these. Every road user has a responsibility to themselves and others to behave reasonably and safely. Of course, not everyone does. But that’s because some people are idiots, not because Strava has turned them into mindless autopilot, fly-by-wire adrenalin junkies.
However, two things occurred to me in terms of the different ways in which it’s possible to use Strava.
- When I use Strava segments, it’s for long, or steep hill climbs.
Strava auto-detects climb sections from uploaded GPX tracks. This is inherently a safer way to be competitive because the speeds are always going to be fairly slow.
Personally, I wouldn’t create a segment for a descent.
- I ride mostly in rural countryside, and feel very lucky that I never have to ride in cities. Having seen a video of the Castro descent on Youtube, it seems rather pointless to even create a segment there. The whole place is full of traffic lights, vehicles and pedestrians! Any attempt to get down there as quickly as possible is going to be largely down to chance.
As for the collision stories, a few people even go so far as to say that Strava should be held liable. This kind of thinking seems heavily influenced by the notion that “the system” is accountable, and to blame whenever something unpleasant happens. Nurtured by a nanny state, the instinct to regulate everything feels like the natural approach. This thinking diminishes and undermines the responsibility of the individual.
Imagine an experiment in which all traffic lights and road signs are removed. What would be the most likely outcome? Lots of deaths and people blaming the authorities, or fewer deaths, because people have to take more personal responsibility and care?
The answer might depend on where you live, and the prevailing cultural attitudes.
(Here’s some food for thought about reducing traffic controls in European cities).
For me, the bottom line is that collisions happen when people make bad judgments.
Yes, there are stupid, irresponsible ways to use Strava which may be more likely to increase risks.
But there are stupid irresponsible ways of using bicycles generally.
And it’s very silly to jump to conclusions without hard evidence.