Strava may be making the leap from feel-good gadget for hard core exercise buffs to serious planning tool for cities looking to improve active transportation.
Strava is a mobile app that runners and cyclists use to record their activities, track their progress, and see their stats and personal records. Its website shows a bunch of young, fit, white people in performance gear, riding 12-ounce racing bikes in an aggressive position or running through woods with their feet never touching the ground. “Prove it,” seems to be their motto.
Rather than proving bragging rights about your latest personal record, Strava might be able to prove the need for safe cycling infrastructure on a heavily ridden route, or the increase in use since a protected bike lane was installed.
In addition to showing users the maps of their own routes, Strava is now releasing its global data online, creating heat maps of where people run and bike — or at least, where they run and bike with Strava tracking their movements. Users can separate out running and biking — the maps in this article only show biking.
Oregon DOT has caught on to the utility of this information and has become the first state transportation agency to pay Strava for its data. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reported yesterday that ODOT has paid $20,000 for a “one-year license of a dataset that includes the activities of about 17,700 riders and 400,000 individual bicycle trips totaling 5 million BMT (bicycle miles traveled) logged on Strava in 2013.”
This data matters, Maus says: