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Similar concerns were raised by Sustrans last year over Strava KOM chasers elsewhere

Peter Ward, the man who helped devise the Guild Wheel off-road shared path that loops around Preston in Lancashire has described cyclists who use it to chase records on Strava segments as “posers” who endanger other users of the facility – and also says that the social network and ride-tracking site encourages reckless riding on the public highway.

His comments echo concerns raised last year by Sustrans that Strava users were riding at inappropriate speeds on shared-use facilities it manages such as the Bristol & Bath Railway Path, the Two Tunnels Parkway in Bath, and one running through the Ashton Court Estate in Bristol.

It has considered placing barriers at the latter location to force riders to cut their speed, and has drawn up a code of conduct for cyclists on shared-use paths.

The 21-mile, three-metre wide Guild Wheel cycle and walking path, which is designated as National Cycle Route 622, was opened in 2012 as one of eight legacy projects of that year’s Preston Guild.

Established by royal charter in 1179, the Preston Guild was initially held every few years on an irregular pattern but has taken place every 20 years since 1542, other than 1942 when it was cancelled due to World War II, resuming in 1952.

The Guild Wheel route links five existing Sustrans routes, and the sustainable transport charity was among the backers of the project under its School Links programme.

But Ward, one of the creators of the Guild Wheel and given an MBE last year for services to cycling, author of the 1970 book King of Sports, A Textbook on Cycle Road Racing and who held a Cat-1 licence for years, says that riders going too fast on the Guild Wheel – and on public roads – as they look to set the fastest Strava segment times are spoiling it for others.

“The Guild Wheel was never intended as a race track and neither were the city’s streets,” he told the Lancashire Evening Post, which has produced a map based on information on Strava that shows various segments together with the number of cyclists attempting them and the fastest times set.

Segments have also been created on Strava for the entire route, with the record for the whole, 21-mile circuit standing at a shade over 1 hour 8 minutes.

“To me these cyclists are just posers,” Ward maintained. “If they want to race and see how they compare to other riders then there are plenty of organised races, especially time trials, they could enter which are properly marshalled and supervised.

“The Guild Wheel was designed as a leisure route. Yet these cyclists are bombing round there trying to set the best time and putting other people in danger. There is going to be a serious accident.”

Last July, Sustrans’ chief executive, Malcolm Shepherd, said: “Traffic-free walking and cycling paths are not the place for reckless cycling speed demons; they cater to a variety of users by providing a safe, non-threatening environment to travel in.

“The anti-social behaviour of a very small number of cyclists is making everyone feel less safe – it would be great for the online community to take action by pointing the finger at people doing the wrong thing.

“As we continue to campaign for greater respect on our roads, its vital those of us using bikes give respect to everyone, and slow down on walking and cycling paths.”

CTC’s campaigns and policy director, Roger Geffen, said at the time: ““CTC strongly supports responsible behaviour by all road users, drivers and cyclists alike.

“Equally though, walkers can feel as intimated by fast cycling on shared-use paths as cyclists are by fast driving.

“In particular, people with physical or sensory disabilities have a right to enjoy the great outdoors without being startled, even if they aren’t actually endangered.

“As cyclists, we need to show them the same respect that we want drivers to show us on the roads.”

While most responsible cyclists would agree that shared-use paths are not suitable for riding at full pelt due to the presence of pedestrians, including people with children and dog walkers, where Ward’s views are likely to get less sympathy is his insistence that there’s no place for riding fast on the public highway either.

“I’m all for cycle racing, it’s a terrific sport,” he said. “But it has to be in controlled circumstances and, from the sound of it, there aren’t many safeguards doing it this way.

“On the open road you never know when a pedestrian or a car is going to come out in front of you. I dread to think what could happen if there was a collision. Someone could be killed.”

One place highlighted by the Lancashire Evening Post as inappropriate for riding fast is the 400-metre long driveway to the town’s crematorium, where a top speed of 29mph has been logged on the social network. According to Strava data, the segment has been ridden more than 3,000 times.

Strava has been accused in the past of encouraging people to ride their bikes recklessly as they try to gain King of the Mountain (KOM) status for setting the fastest time on a specific segment.

Last June, a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought in California by the family of 41-year-old William ‘Kim’ Flint, killed when he collided with a car on a downhill stretch of road while apparently trying to regain a KOM that had been beaten by another rider.

The following month, 37-year-old cyclist Chris Bucchere was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and three years’ probation after he hit a pedestrian who later died from his injuries.

Bucchere was riding downhill and went through a red traffic light while trying to better his own Strava KOM time in San Frascisco’s Castro district in March 2012, colliding with 71-year-old Sutchi Hui, who was crossing the road.

A spokesman for Strava told the Lancashire Evening Post: “To provide some insight into how Strava works, athletes on Strava can create what we call segments (essentially a stretch of road or trail) to see how they compare to others who took the same route.

“As our community of athletes creates these segments, we also give them the tools to self-regulate by allowing them to “flag” any segment they believe to be hazardous.”

We’ve looked at the Guild Wheel segments in question on Strava, and it does not appear that any have been flagged to Strava yet.

The spokesman added: “Every cyclist is responsible for their own safety and the safety of those around them. We ask all Strava athletes to exercise common sense when they are running and riding and to encourage good behaviour within our community.”

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

57 comments

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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To be fair he has a point. If a mixed use path is being used as a race track then that creates a danger.

And if we want more infrastructure for cyclists then it shouldn't be used for racing.

If you want a good time trial time, do a proper time trial.

That goes for motorists too. If you want to drive like the Stig do it on a track day at a racing circuit.

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

And if we want more infrastructure for cyclists then it shouldn't be used for racing.

If you want a good time trial time, do a proper time trial.

However what is fast? Is 20mph fast on a wide empty shared path? is 15 fast or maybe 10?

Not trying to be argumentative, as I do agree and I suspect in this case doing the whole route as a lap at speed does go against what it purpose is, but if you are trying to get from a to b and riding a section?

I am actually going to say the problem is the track designers as much as the cyclists. Human nature is human nature, design a track that can be ridden fast and some will ride it fast.

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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'self-regulate' and 'common sense' - these few words define the problem with Strava.

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Gizmo_ [1381 posts] 2 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

To be fair he has a point. If a mixed use path is being used as a race track then that creates a danger.

And if we want more infrastructure for cyclists then it shouldn't be used for racing.

If you want a good time trial time, do a proper time trial.

That goes for motorists too. If you want to drive like the Stig do it on a track day at a racing circuit.

I agree some roads are suitable for driving cars fast, some are not, and the only place for driving a car to its full limits is on a track. But unless Sustrans are planning on building some cycle paths that are not shared use, getting rid of those pesky pedestrians, where else would I ride? Or perhaps they'd like to see a 10mph speed limit enforced... Mustn't scare the horses after all. As for "do a proper time trial"... yes, OK, but training is generally accepted as beneficial?

And
“On the open road you never know when a pedestrian or a car is going to come out in front of you. I dread to think what could happen if there was a collision. Someone could be killed.”
No, what, really? Hold on... Rapha said cycling would make me immortal?

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Mr Agreeable [167 posts] 2 years ago
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It's probably too much to hope for that one day we'll see a local newspaper article which focuses on cyclists' average speeds, the margins of accuracy when measuring top speed over a 0.8-mile Strava segment, or the relative magnitude of momentum of a cyclist going at 18 mph versus a motor vehicle.

In the meantime, it'd be great if people could back off from the online willy-waving a bit. I'll normally cycle home from the pub, but I'd never dream of using one of those iPhone breathalyser attachments to take a blood alcohol reading, then upload it to the internet in the hope that people would give me "kudos".

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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You can race at local level without training. You won't win but it's fun to test yourself.

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

And if we want more infrastructure for cyclists then it shouldn't be used for racing.

If you want a good time trial time, do a proper time trial.

However what is fast? Is 20mph fast on a wide empty shared path? is 15 fast or maybe 10?

Not trying to be argumentative, as I do agree and I suspect in this case doing the whole route as a lap at speed does go against what it purpose is, but if you are trying to get from a to b and riding a section?

I am actually going to say the problem is the track designers as much as the cyclists. Human nature is human nature, design a track that can be ridden fast and some will ride it fast.

Same as when you are driving a car. Appropriate speed. In Advanced Driving courses you learn the accronym TTR. Time to React. If you can see a long way ahead and it's all clear then you can speed up. If you're going round corners where you can't see a long way ahead or there are pedestrians, dogs other riders then slow right down to a safe speed. The trouble with racing of any kind is that it can easily override common sense "red mist" such that other users of that mixed use public path become mere obstacles to a faster time and chances are taken.

I would be reluctant to see speed limits imposed because sometimes on some stretches even 30mph (if you can do it) might be fine and perfectly safe. At other tiimes and places in amongst pedestrians dogs etc 10mph may be way too fast. However if people can't self regulate then it invites the imposition of regulation. And that's when some numpty in the council decides that 10mph is the limit always and everywhere and then start to enforce it. Then the Strava warriors depart and the ordinary rider trying to get to work has to pootle along at walking pace while PCSOs hide in the bushes to catch them doing 15mph on an empty path.

I wouldn't be so keen to put a number on what constitues "too fast". some riders are better, more aware. It's about riding within yourself and your capabilities. Years ago whan I used to drive all over Europe for a a living, the Germans had a large poster on the side of motoways. The left side of the poster had a driver looking calm and relaxed and happy. The right side of the poster had the same driver red in the face, dripping sweat, leaning forward and gripping the wheel with white knuckles. The caption was: "Reisen nicht rasen." Travel don't race.

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johndonnelly [81 posts] 2 years ago
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Would seem pretty easy for someone from Sustrans to join strava and just start marking their segments as hazardous.

Why all the fuss?

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twinklydave [27 posts] 2 years ago
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Anti social riding can be a danger at any speed. A 'once a year' cyclist travelling at 10mph, beyond their ability to stop or react, is as dangerous as a 'speeding poser' hitting 20mph on their poser bike with it's poser brakes while pulling their best 'concentrating-poser' face.

As several people have said above, it's the attitude of everyone on shared use paths that's the problem, whether that be the speed you ride at, how under control your dog is, how politely you allow people to pass while out walking with your family or how appropriately you dress when using the unlit sections at night...

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Jimmy Ray Will [452 posts] 2 years ago
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johndonnelly wrote:

Would seem pretty easy for someone from Sustrans to join strava and just start marking their segments as hazardous.

Why all the fuss?

My thoughts as well.

Nothing puts you off hunting a strava than the segment being flagged.

However I guess doing that means you don't get to further publicise cyclists as moronic petrol heads.

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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I've flagged a few local segments that are on shared use paths that are hazardous.

There's a time an a place for getting on the big ring. When there's pedestrians, dogs, children and mobility scooters around it is not one of them.

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Same as when you are driving a car. Appropriate speed. In Advanced Driving courses you learn the accronym TTR. Time to React. If you can see a long way ahead and it's all clear then you can speed up. If you're going round corners where you can't see a long way ahead or there are pedestrians, dogs other riders then slow right down to a safe speed. The trouble with racing of any kind is that it can easily override common sense "red mist" such that other users of that mixed use public path become mere obstacles to a faster time and chances are taken.

WE may know what is appropriate but as is clear from the way cars are driven huge numbers don't. As for skill isn't that exactly the same argument put forward by so many "good" drivers, I can handle the speed, my brakes are good, a have good tyres, etc etc etc.

If your going to design shared use paths then I am afraid you actually have to DESIGN them, laying a couple of inches of tarmac on a old track bed and call it a shared use path simply won't cut it.

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SuperG [104 posts] 2 years ago
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Matt eaton wrote:

'self-regulate' and 'common sense' - these few words define the problem with Strava.

I ride paths a 6am, nobody in sight, slow/inexperienced cyclist can be as much a hazard, I know one hit me head on!

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qwerky [184 posts] 2 years ago
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johndonnelly wrote:

Would seem pretty easy for someone from Sustrans to join strava and just start marking their segments as hazardous.

Why all the fuss?

Totally agree. Strava is pretty good about taking down flagged segments - I've flagged a few myself (including one on the shared use path that my kid goes to school along) and they've been removed only days later. I never felt the need to write to the local rag.

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jmaccelari [238 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm sad to say that my opinion is that these define the problem with cyclists. There is always a group who are not prepared to do this and then the rest get tarred with their brush...

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Condor Andy [189 posts] 2 years ago
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I cycle this route quite a lot, average around 15mph and take 1 hour 45 mins. Not quite record pace as you do have to slow down for the more popular sections - eg. Avenham Park, but there are many sections where you can put your foot down and the Crematorium driveway is possibly one of them, I've never seen anyone going down there at all.

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Guanajuato [40 posts] 2 years ago
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LEP on high horse about 'speeding' cyclists, yet happily break copyright laws. Here's the original Guild Wheel video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5WusFYsLkU LEP have had a copy of it on Youtube for over a year, the owner has asked them to remove it and its still there.  45

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birzzles [126 posts] 2 years ago
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If you think that pedestrians should acccept the risk of being hit by a cyclist racing on a shared use path, then you should be happy with cars racing on public roads and killing cyclists.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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Maybe I'm the first to think it but if the Strava record is just a tad over an hour for 21 miles than cyclists aren't exactly just flying. I mean if it was truly a "raceway" then shouldn't you see the leader with average speeds around 25-27mph?

Either way cyclists should act with responsibility around other path users but their speeds can be viewed grossly out of proportion. If walking 3mph someone riding a bike at 15mph is going to seem to be flying. Can you even tell the difference as a walker between 15mph and say 18mph???

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twinklydave [27 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

If you think that pedestrians should acccept the risk of being hit by a cyclist racing on a shared use path, then you should be happy with cars racing on public roads and killing cyclists.

Who thinks that?!

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
Quote:

Same as when you are driving a car. Appropriate speed. In Advanced Driving courses you learn the accronym TTR. Time to React. If you can see a long way ahead and it's all clear then you can speed up. If you're going round corners where you can't see a long way ahead or there are pedestrians, dogs other riders then slow right down to a safe speed. The trouble with racing of any kind is that it can easily override common sense "red mist" such that other users of that mixed use public path become mere obstacles to a faster time and chances are taken.

WE may know what is appropriate but as is clear from the way cars are driven huge numbers don't. As for skill isn't that exactly the same argument put forward by so many "good" drivers, I can handle the speed, my brakes are good, a have good tyres, etc etc etc.

If your going to design shared use paths then I am afraid you actually have to DESIGN them, laying a couple of inches of tarmac on a old track bed and call it a shared use path simply won't cut it.

Absolutely right on some of those points. Cars are driven very badly and I'm not going to be mealy mouthed about caveats with a a "few" either. There is a poor attitude/culture to road use amongst a large majority of motorists. Too close, too fast, too aggressive and mostly not even realising that they are doing it because well...doesn't everyone drive like that?

It's wrong. I oppose it. It's right that there are speedlimits on roads. I would lament that there had to be speed limits on a shared use cycle paths because some cyclists were using it as a race track because you know what? It would be easier for the powers that be to just make it a footpath and be done with it.

It can't be right to complain that some drivers are inconsiderate and dangerous when I am cycling on the road and then defend the same sort of behavious from some cyclists on a shared use path when they are being the inconsiderate and dangerous ones.

Philosophically I also don't buy the idea of turning up your nose at the quality of the provision in all cases. If you hold out for 5 star gold plated provision you'll get hardly any of it and we won't progress. We need more of it to make cycling to work and school etc a viable proposition for newbie cyclists that are scared of traffic and put off it. Once more people are cycling then they become a bigger constituency able to demand improvements and bigger budgets for infrastructure. Either way building a nice shared path route that benefits cyclists in commuting only to find that it's being used as a race track doesn't help next time a piece of infrastructure is being decided upon.

I'm a roadie so I'd love nicely laid smooth tarmac. But that's not necessary for most cyclists commuting to work. Nor for me on my hack bike. They need a reasonable surface and separation from traffic. So yes in a lot of cases a tarmac path over an old railway track bed will cut it and would be most welcome if we could get even that.

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Bigfoz [118 posts] 2 years ago
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While I'm not particularly interested in Strava, I would like to point out it's not inherently evil. It's simply a tool, as are most of the segment chasing muppets. It does not "encourage" anything, the actions are entirely the responsibility of the morons using the tool.

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Bigfoz [118 posts] 2 years ago
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"I ride paths a 6am, nobody in sight, slow/inexperienced cyclist can be as much a hazard, I know one hit me head on!"

Technically you hit each other unless you were stationary...

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southseabythesea [148 posts] 2 years ago
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I flagged the segments where I live which were on shared cycle/pedestrian paths, plenty of roads out there to use instead.

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millskid [44 posts] 2 years ago
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jarredscycling wrote:

Maybe I'm the first to think it but if the Strava record is just a tad over an hour for 21 miles than cyclists aren't exactly just flying. I mean if it was truly a "raceway" then shouldn't you see the leader with average speeds around 25-27mph?

Trust me they are flying if they can do the wheel in that time. There is 25%, 15%, and a 10% climb. There are also some places where you have to come to a stand still to get through barriers. Not to mention, there are plenty of blind corners, if you were to hit someone coming the other way there would be a serious injury. I Imagine the cyclist will be averaging over 25mph on the open sections easily.

The wheel is a excellent ride, for those that have not tried it.

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massspike [139 posts] 2 years ago
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Cyclists who try to set PB's on shared-use paths are a pet peeve of mine -- I have had to stop and help after 1 head-on collision and another cyclist v. pedestrian incident. The worst are the ones on TT bikes riding on a busy path in the aero position.

Ottawa paths have a posted 25-kph speed limit and occasionally the police set up speed traps.

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twinklydave [27 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Ottawa paths have a posted 25-kph speed limit and occasionally the police set up speed traps.

...and if I was riding without a bike computer, how would I know if I was speeding?!

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Initialised [289 posts] 2 years ago
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Bicycles aren't allowed on motorways so why are pedestrians allowed on cycleways?

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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It's shocking, but not surprising, that none of the segments have been flagged. But I am surprised that pedestrians haven't realised that knobbling Strava in this way could actually be very easy. There's an awful lot of social media savvy pensioners around these days, you know, so word would soon get round  3

But here's an idea. What if flags had a timing window such that, for instance, the first Sunday in each month saw the flag lifted for the day? It should be fairly easy to set up Strava in this way, I imagine. It's only because no-one's thought of it that it hasn't happened. If you're reading this, you Strava developer guys, how about it?

The reason why I think this might work is because, when I was a student, living in a shared house, there was always conflict with the neighbours, as you might expect. But a deal was struck - every fourth Saturday was a serious party night, where things were sometimes so crazy it was difficult at times to know who was doing what, and to whom. But on other weekends we had to go elsewhere to get our kicks, leaving the neighbours to sleep peacefully in their feather beds.

In other words, local dog walkers and others intent on a gentle stroll might reasonably be expected to concede to giving priority to cyclists on that day, in exchange for a Strava free existence for the rest of the month.

In fact, the more one thinks about it, the more the idea of "flag lift" days, attracting hundreds of riders all turning up to ride the same route simultaneously, appeals. Those hard pressed locals would probably come out to cheer you fast boys round, sell you soup and stuff, and put the Wheel on the map, as it were.

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lookmanohands [119 posts] 2 years ago
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1 hour and 8 minutes......I reckon I could get close to that! (Goes off to check the segment out)  19 24

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