While I’m busy overcoming the cycling blahs (see previous post), I learned of a case where a really enthusiastic cyclist went out to beat a record for a segment on Strava — and lost his life when he collided with a car.
You’re probably aware of Strava — the GPS-based training aid that’s gaining in popularity by the day. I mentioned it here earlier this year. The main attraction of Strava seems to be its ability to divide a ride into segments. If you post the segments publicly, others can see your time for that segment and try to beat it.
Users have even coined a name for it, as noted on the Competitive Cyclist website:
- Stravacide, [strah-veh-sahyd]
- To ride significantly harder during training than originally planned (e.g. on a climb or a defined stretch of road) in order to increase one’s ranking on the Strava Leaderboard for a specific segment.
Now, the family of the deceased cyclist, one Kim Flint, Jr., is suing Strava, claiming its general negligence led to the wrongful death of Flint. The complaint alleges that Strava breached its “duty of care” by failing to warn cyclists that the road on that segment was “not suited for racing” and “unreasonably dangerous;” for failing to take measures to ensure that KOM (King of the Mountain) challenges take place on safe courses; and for encouraging dangerous behavior. The suit, which seeks damages in excess of $25,000, contends that if Strava had done those things, Flint would not have died as he did.
Hey, I just report the facts. I’ll let you figure out whether the plaintiffs have a leg to stand on, or if this suit will be thrown out of court as frivolous. All I know is that, while I don’t use Strava myself, I do have several segments on my routes where I do keep track of my times — or, more often, my top speed. I don’t need Strava for that, and I don’t need a third party looking out for me to make sure my record-breaking attempts are done under pristine conditions. I don’t need Strava to kill myself; I’m perfectly capable of doing that on my own.
Of course, I’m also perfectly capable of judging conditions for myself, and determining whether I’m comfortable challenging my best on a given day, or waiting until the wind, for the road surface, or debris, or reflected light, or whatever changes until I am comfortable.
Strava didn’t make Flint ride that day.
This ticks me off… I use Strava on a regular basis and love it. But I’m smart enough and conservative enough to recognize unsafe environments and to avoid behavior that puts my life in jeopardy. It’s a shame that this suit was filed, in my humble opinion. (But then again, we are a sue happy nation. Don’t like something? Sue them. It’s sort of sad…)
Mark X says
I use Strava … and love it. I compete with MYSELF and like to compare my previous rides. Also I like using it to share my ride with non-cycling friends via Facebook.
A lawsuit .. are you kidding me?
“Strava didn’t make Flint ride that day.” —- Ditto.
As troubling it is to hear about losing a cyclist, it is more troubling for it to be blamed on a piece of harmless software. I use Strava and enjoy it quite a bit. We have some friendly competition on our segments, which has added spice and fun to our workouts, but we are still responsible for ourselves, just like in every other situation. If Strava is to blame for getting silly competitive, then you can pretty much blame any other bike part of accessory. Or you could even blame the other riders for making you chase them.