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Councillors in California banned mountain bikers from a local preserve after Strava data revealed riders were travelling at speeds in excess of 20mph on shared trails

Strava data has been used to ban mountain bikers from a park trail after cyclists posted data showing them riding at speeds in excess of 20mph.

Horse riders and hikers raised concerns over riders using Byrne Preserve trails in Los Alto Hills, California at “incredibly unacceptable” speeds.

The ban was unanimously passed by the local council in January, thanks in part to Strava data from the trails, with no opposition to the ban made by the local cycling community. Some feel a worrying precedent has now been set and are asking riders to consider their behaviour on local trails.

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Ryan Dunfee, writing in Teton Gravity, said: “While Los Altos Hills' action is seemingly a unique example of what can happen when folks who don't want bikers around use bikers' own data against them, it's not hard to imagine Forest Service rangers or other public officials being forced to take action against illegal trails or in the case of Los Altos Hills, revoke legal trail access mountain bikers already enjoy.”

Dunfee said it is possible for a “vocal minority” to use Strava data to back up concerns raised to local councils and help ban bikers, and said cyclists need to be proactive in monitoring behaviour in their community. 

Some local horse riders registered complaints about cycling speeds in the Preserve, in particular the steep Artemas Gintzon trail, and the potential for horses being spooked by bikers appearing unexpectedly around blind corners, and the dangers that poses to younger, less experienced riders.

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Los Altos Online reported Councilman John Radford was among those reluctant to deny cyclists access to the Preserve, but the Strava data, with speeds of 20mph and greater, ultimately influenced approval of the ban.

At a public meeting on the issue, he said: “I’m done with this as far as I’m concerned,”

“The speed numbers that were talked about tonight are just incredibly unacceptable. I can’t even believe. Sorry, whoever’s done those apps and whoever puts that together – that just put a hole in the whole argument.”

Website Singletracks said they resisted bringing the issue to public attention earlier in case it was used by anti-cycling individuals to ban cyclists from trails. In a recent blog, however, Jeff Barber suggested people make certain rides private to avoid fueling the argument against cyclists on contentious cycling routes.

Dunfee, meanwhile, believes cyclists need to start tackling speeding before it reaches the point where bans are mooted.

“Given the inevitable posting of Strava data – as well as that from other apps that track outdoor activities – it would seem the only solution is to get out in front of the issue, own those speeds, and be the group that starts the conversation about shared use," he said.

"Better that than to be on your heels, or in the case of the public comment in the Los Altos Hills case, not present in the conversation at all.”

Mountain View resident, Andrew Yee, told Los Altos Online trail users should work together for a solution. He said: “We can get kids off the road, they can ride on these paths”.

“In 12 years in living in this area, I haven’t had a single incident that’s been unpleasant with hikers, other bikers or equestrians. … I think we can learn and collaborate instead of discriminating against one group.”

In London, Regents Park Cyclists were recently credited with helping reduce collisions resulting in injury by 58% on a popular park cycle route after working with police to approach fellow riders about red light jumping and cycling at night without lights, while police officers tackled speeding motorists.