After suggesting that Strava data could be used to track and penalise people riding bikes too fast around Canberra, Liberal Mark Parton has called the idea “the silliest thing I’ve said publicly since being elected”.
“It didn’t take much examination for me to realize that the suggestion was ludicrous.”
Mr Parton rides regularly around Canberra, and commutes from his home in Tuggeranong to the Legislative Assembly. He tracks his activity with Strava, clocking 62.6 km/h an hour on one segment recently.
The speed limit for shared paths is 50km/h.
Mr Parton made the suggestion about tracking cycling speeds during a discussion with Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris at an ACT parliamentary hearing on Thursday. When Ms Fitzharris expressed concern about people on bikes speeding on shared paths, Mr Parton said she should look at Strava data.
“Every hard-core cyclist is on Strava. They have a digital record that’s public as to how fast they’re traveling and specifically where they’ve done it.”
Mr Parton isn’t the first to suggest that Strava could be used as a tool for governing bodies to improve conditions for active travel. But he may be the first politician to have his Strava-habit on the public record.
Strava data is notoriously inaccurate for measuring speed, as commenters on Mr Parton’s Facebook post were quick to point out. And of course, not everyone who rides a bike is on Strava, and nor would they be if it was used as a tool to punish riders.
There is certainly room for improvement when it comes to educating certain members of the cycling community about sharing public spaces safely. No matter if you’re riding a bike, walking or driving a car, it is the responsibility of every member of society to obey the law and be respectful of other people.
Bikes are the top of the Canberra shared-path hierarchy, so bike riders should act accordingly: assess the situation, give warnings or slow down if necessary, and be safe around vulnerable path users.
Most Canberra bike riders do this willingly. Calls to police and punish a whole segment of society for the actions of a couple of cycling hoons are, to use Mark Parton’s word, ‘ludicrous’.
Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of a lapsed bicycle rider who should be cycling more.