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Helping Strava users stay safe - Segment flagging/dangerous segments revisited

Richard Wilson
asked this on May 29, 2012 09:40 PM

OK - my flame suit is on. I know this is difficult topic, but I wanted to consider a follow up. Strava has previously allowed users to flag segments as hazardous - particularly important where those of us who have ridden much of our local terrain are aware that  the existence of leader-boards combined with the desire to compete might not lead to good outcomes on some of our routes. Recently several of my fellow riders have noticed that previously flagged "dangerous" segments reappear when other riders create new versions of these old segments. We all understand that it's very hard to be objective, or to codify "dangerous" vs "safe" segments. So many factors play into what determines the "safety" of a segment. Obviously it's not clear to folks creating segments why a previous segment was flagged.  

So what to do? Two things come to mind. The first is to wonder if a second version of a "flagged" segment could be sent for review - users are prompted if Strava finds similar segments in its database. Maybe there's a way to have an extra check in this instance. Secondly,  perhaps there could be some sort of "guide to safe Strava'ing" or equivalent to help new Strava users think about some of these important issues that might not be obvious at first blush. It could be as simple as a brief note to folks signing up for the first time:

"Some thoughts to help Strava users be the best ambassadors they can:

1) Uphill segments - go for it folks, push as hard as you damn well can. If you think you might pass out, you have permission to ease off/bail and try again another day

2) Downhill segments - think carefully before creating these. What could be the unintended consequences for you, your fellow Strava users or other road users of creating a segment on a particularly fast/twisty/steep/busy section of road? Have you found a descent particularly risky/dangerous - flag it and do the Strava user-base a favor.

3) Stop lines and lights - how about giving everyone a break and really trying to avoid creating segments that go through intersections or finish on stop lines? Getting KOM's is tough enough without having to risk an infraction or worse.

There, now we've got the preachy stuff out the way, go out, ride hard and ride safe"

Have at it people. Anyone else thinking about this stuff?

 

Comments

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Douglas Kubler

Safety can't be ranked with a simple yes/no status.  Conditions and rider skills have to be accounted for.  I would like no segment to be turned off.  Let a segment have a safety ranking that can voted on by all riders of same.  The result could be a simple color bar going from green to red.  Under the current system every visible segment is by default safe but it may merit a "yellow" caution ranking.

May 31, 2012 07:50 AM
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Richard Wilson
I agree it's not clear cut. What prompted this my tl-dr post was seeing a new "epic descent" segment (as it was labelled) appear, that was a duplicate of previously flagged segment that had been associated with a downhill riding fatality. I don't think this is something that Strava can police, but wondering if they can help us, the users, be more effective at creating leader boards and competing on segments that are safer.
May 31, 2012 09:02 PM
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Marc Dizon

+1 Douglas Kubler's safety ranking system.

I ride and compete at my own risk. If this simple concept is not in explicitly delineated the end-user agreement, it should be. I just discovered two segments - that I created for myself - flagged as hazardous by another user. Now the segments are gone, no questions asked. Stupid and extremely disappointing.

June 08, 2012 08:04 AM
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David Hüge… H.

Areed. If you go to McDonalds, you know right away that the stuff sold there isnt good for you; you eat it at your own risk. You "choose" to eat there. Most people that are novices or beginners "usually"  ride with more experienced riders anyway. To give people the autonomy to flag a ride or segment as dangerous just because they cant ride it or arent fast enough or just plain out of irritation is a bit much. The problem is that if someone doesnt like people riding trails or roads in their area-it happens a bit here in Maryland-they have flagged avery segment at one point. Color bar is great or what they do in skiing-using symbols black diamond, double black diamond, etc.

June 11, 2012 06:06 PM
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Richard Wilson
So I agree that the current system is just too simplistic - segments are either visible or invisible, and there's no way to contact the person that created the segment or for Strava to have any kind of double check, There's a local segment I ride that ends right up to a traffic light. Stupid - the only options I have are to clog up the system with yet another duplicate segment, or to flag it.  The wrinkle in the ride-at-your-own-risk argument is that you don't just put yourself in danger if you decide to bomb a stupid descent. The example of the bad segment above is that bombing that increases the risk of cyclist/cyclist and cyclist/pedestrian collisions substantially. The KOM seeker on that segment two years ago happened to bomb into an SUV, curtailing his own ride and only causing a repair bill for the motorist. FWIW, I like to ride fast, I race. Badly. But I fear history repeating itself on this segment in question so yes, I flagged it and posted here. I'm not advocating indiscrimate flagging, but there must be some half way house between "wild west" and "Strava communism"? @D. Hewes - did a non rider really go and flag segments out of spite? That's ridiculous and argues for a feedback/alert system to allow bogus flags to be removed but the right ones should stay. Shouldn't be hard to distinguish riders from folks who want to game the system. Perhaps Douglas's suggestion of a safety ranking would help here. My $0.02.
June 11, 2012 06:36 PM
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David Hüge… H.

@RW-they sure did. We had some issues here for a while with people who didnt like cyclists in their area found out about Strava and decided to do something that juvenile... we still won out in the end.

June 11, 2012 06:49 PM
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Richard Wilson
Ugh - glad you guys won through.
June 11, 2012 07:04 PM
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Matthew McHugh

Dizon - If you created a segment "for yourself" why didn't you make it private?  No one could see it then and no one could flag it.  Or were you wanting folks to see it and compete with you for it?  Was it a downhill segment? There's a big difference there in terms of personal responsibility.  In the first case, with a private segment, you can make the argument like Kubler that you're simply assuming your own risks.  But (and this is hypothetical since I don't know what kind of segments you've created that were flagged) if someone creates a downhill segment on a two way road with blind, technical turns and intersections and achievable speeds more than double the speed limit, and then comments on the KOM time in a way that encourages folks to try to beat that time, then, in my opinion, that person has taken on a responsibility, indeed a potential culpability, for the safety of others.  And the reason I say that is that the rider who created this segment might be a local pro rider going out at 6am on sunday morning to bomb that descent.  But some 16 year old newbie rider and Strava user, unknown to him, with more guts than skills or brains, might bomb it in the middle of a saturday afternoon straight into an SUV.  Kids do stupid things without needing to be goaded into them by more skilled, mature adults.

But this isn't just hypothetical.  It's very real because we had a fatality in our area when a cyclist (not a kid but a fairly new rider though) was finding the uphill competition to be getting too challenging, so he started focusing on the downhill segments.  It didn't last long.  Is it really so important to be able to create and protect all segments out of some sense of personal freedom or can reasonable people self-regulate in the interest of the safety of their riding community?  What's more important, the sanctity of segments or the sanctity of life?

Furthermore, and with due respect, I think a sliding scale of danger per Kubler that goes from green to red would just fan the flames of competition all the more on downhill descents.  

One final thought.  Think about it.  Even at the very top levels of racing, KOM's exist only for climbs, not descents.  There's only a polka dot jersey in the TdF for the best climber, not some flame covered jersey for fastest descender...and those are the best of the best on closed, newly paved, freshly swept roads with emergency vehicles at the ready.  Think about it.

June 11, 2012 10:46 PM
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Marc Dizon

McHugh - Segment = 0.8% grade (20' climb), straight away. Not at all a hill bomber. As for "private"segmenting, I was unaware of such a feature, but for what it's worth, the segment has accumulated 54 regular riders who have aggregated 212 unique rides. I held KOM from the time the segment was created and there had been many obvious attempts to best my time. As presumptuous as it may sound, it's hard to believe that the segment wasn't flagged as a result of the competitive frustration of others.

June 12, 2012 08:27 AM
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Matthew McHugh

Marc Dizon-

That is truly a bogus and unfortunate use of the flagging feature.  I suppose Strava could mediate an appeals process, but that is a hassle for everyone and moreover my guess is that's not a precedent they wish to set (in which they play some role in deciding on the relative veracity of a flagged segment) because it could involve legal issues for them to do so.

Perhaps a better thought is that maybe Strava could change the flagging procedure so that the "flagger" is not anonymous.  I am willing to take some heat for occasionally flagging dangerous downhill segments.  Hopefully I'd also get some support.  Although this could become a Pandora's box with all kinds of abuse with folks using anonymous accounts.

A final thought is that maybe Strava could figure out a way to "evolve" flagging into a reasonable user-based democratic system by sending out emails occassionally to ask for a vote from subscribers who've ridden a controversial segment.

So I do understand your frustration (and Hewes in Md) where it seems like flagging has been abused.  I hope I conveyed my safety concerns in a clear and reasonable way.

 

June 12, 2012 09:01 AM
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Nick Fox

+2 Douglas Kubler's safety ranking system. The current system is far too simplistic. I get on a bike I know the dangers. If there is a downhill segment and I want to gun it then it is at my own risk but as a none competing cyclists this is the nearest I get to competition. It is when you create a perfectly good segment that is uphill to a set of traffic lights then someone flags it as dangerous. It is not massively busy the segment doesn't go across a junction and I wasn't even the KOM.

A ranking system is definately the way forward.

Or another way could be that if someone flags it they have to put a reason which is then visible to anyone wanting to see why it was flagged. This can remain anonymous but at least then we know why!

June 12, 2012 12:47 PM
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Douglas Kubler

Today I went fast on a fireroad segment, got home, posted, and there's no segment.  Another asinine flag.  FWIW it was near noon on a hot day and there was no one else around.  The segment is not unsafe only riders can be unsafe.  My personal system up to now has been to look at the fastest times and knowing something about the riders judge the difficulty for me.  With practice and due caution I have gotten better.  If the past results were not available I would be worse off.

@Matthew In the pro racers the KOM is awarded to the first rider, not necessarily the fastest climber since time starts when the race starts. A DH KOM would nearly be a foregone conclusion since the climbing KOM has a head start!  LOL  Riders climbing and suffering makes for better TV drama anyway.

June 12, 2012 02:29 PM
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Menko Johnson

+1 with Douglas' comment. I too did a fireroad descent early this morning that *could* be dangerous if you did it on Saturday afternoon with everyone out walking their dogs.  Now suddenly its flagged as dangerous.  I have to agree that dangerous is pertinent only to the person on the bike, not the terrain itself.  Laguna Seca race course is dangerous for an amateur driver, and yet skilled individuals drive it fast every day of the week.  I know this comes out of the litigation and perhaps there is nothing to do on this, but it would be nice to have a more democratic system for flagging dangerous segments.

June 22, 2012 09:26 AM
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David Hüge… H.

I personally think this has gone too far. @Mathew-What is dangerous to you is a walk in the park for others. I personally love to climb. I consider myself one of the better ones in my area. I also know my limitations as a descender. I dont  ride faster than my skills allow. I dont care if Joe Schmo rides it faster than me. There are guys I know that are incredible technical descenders-that doesnt make me want to take a chance and ride out of my element to be like them. Without Strava, people would still be riding hard and fast-this just allows you to see it. There should be a more democratic way to resolve the whole flagging issue. If I ride in a place I have never been, you can rest assured it will be with someone who knows the trail. Like the above comments, YOU are ultimately responsible for yourself. If you come to a section that looks difficult...IT IS DIFFICULT! Use common sense.  I ride because I love to ride. I wouldnt change anything if Strava never existed. Flagging a ride or segment is not the way to go. 

June 22, 2012 10:26 AM
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Richard Wilson
@Menko as you'll note from the date stamp, this thread originated before the South Park Drive lawsuit came up. Ironically, it was seeing a new segment being created for that exact same descent that prompted me to start this. In my original ramble, I suggested that we encourage caution in the user base before creating downhill segments - not an outright ban. Also that there should be some way to cross check newly created segments against those that have already been flagged as hazardous. I still think that both of those points are valid, and like that we've also shone a light on how inadequate/unsatisfactory the current segment flagging system is. I'd like to think that integrating those three point would provide a thoughtful response that still retains maximum functionality of Strava, while acknowledging the common sense point that establishing leader boards for dangerous descents is probably ultimately not a smart thing to do.
June 22, 2012 11:17 AM
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Menko Johnson

@Richard--Yes I noticed it was preceding the current state of affairs, but my points still remain.  I don't mind encouraging caution in descents, but KOM or not I ride within my ability levels.  Someone trying to beat an uphill KOM could have a heart attack, and would that be Strava's fault because they were pushing too hard?  I am simply sad and disgusted that a discipline I tend to be quite good at is being erased due to how society accepts risk.  I won't lose sleep over it, but there was some satisfaction knowing that I out-descended people on my road bike while on dirt trails ;)  I would like my own personal leaderboard but simply because its private doesn't change the risk that Strava is exposed to. 

Ultimately, Strava has shown that people care enough about bettering themselves and comparing themselves to others that they will take stupid risks.  But everyone took the same stupid risks before Strava as they tried to out-class their buddies.  I'm glad the service exists and would rather have the current poo-poo on descents than have it go away.  My personal KOMs show I almost always get them on downhills, not uphills ;) http://app.strava.com/athletes/5518/segments/leader

June 22, 2012 11:29 AM
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Leslie Leaming

A popular descent has been deemed hazardous recently. I was bummed to see it removed. I do not think it is fair for one person to be able to decide what is dangerous and what is not. I agree that the descent can be dangerous but that is a risk we all take the moment we throw a leg over our bikes. I do like to work on my descending though I am not crazy and go at my own limits and it was helpful to see where I was at in terms of comparable riders. I suppose I could remake this as a "private" segment and just compare my times, which is fine but do I lose all my data that had already accumulated on that descent? That would really bum me out because I could see whether I was improving or not. I have like 2 years of rides down that mountain.

I guess what it comes down to is why is it that one person who may be terrified of descents, unskilled at descents, or have some other personal reason choose for the entire community what is hazardous and not hazardous.

June 27, 2012 01:52 PM
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roger kim

No safety or flagging system is needed.  Really, if you're too stupid to realize blowing a light to get a KOM or ripping down a descent with tons of traffic, then may g-d have mercy on you.  There's competitiveness, and there's idiots.  Separated, both can survive.  Combined, it's an ugly situation, but not one that needs to be coddled.  In my area all the baby-sitters have flagged dang near every segment as a hazard.  Good grief

July 01, 2012 04:06 AM
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Richard Wilson

@ roger - so if not flagging, what would be the appropriate response to the death of a Strava user trying to regain a KOM on a descent?

It's imperfect, but I think the flagging system can be improved to increase the signal to noise.

July 01, 2012 08:33 AM
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David Hüge… H.

Labeling him as a Strava user puts the immediate blame on Strava. He took a risk. If people are that vain to feel as if they are entitled to something as petty as that, then they assume responsibility-and I know a few myself. When Wouter Weylandt died in the Tour, you didnt see his family trying to sue the promoters or anyone else involved-he took a risk, and lost sadly enough. I am a mountain biker at heart and ride for the Trek mountain team. I ride the road bike for training and no full well that everyday I go out, could be my last. If during my training I happen to get a KOM, so be it. I never go out purposefully trying to claim or reclaim-especially on a dangerous road descent. People need to stop passing the buck and assume you own risks.

July 01, 2012 09:32 AM
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Matthew McHugh

@D. Hewes - I've tried to stay away from this discussion as it seems pointless trying to communicate with cyclists who somehow consider any sort of user-based regulation of 'segment racing '(and that's what it is) an infringement of their personal cycling liberties, but I can't keep quiet.  Not one single person who has expressed their displeasure with "flagging" has addressed the following questions at all, which I will repeat here and challenge you to address...Has anyone who "flags" or who has suggested improving the "flagging" system rather than eliminating it, prevented you from riding anywhere you want anytime you want at any speed you want?  Does flagging close the road to you or just your ability to race others downhill? And what is your response to a young or inexperienced cyclist receiving a notice from Strava that someone "just stole [his] KOM" for a high speed technical decent on open roads with intersections and driveways and pedestrian crossings with no system to curtail this overt challenge for him to go bomb that descent a bit faster?  Who's responsible if he gets killed, or how about if a pedestrian or motorist is killed or injured - only the 16 year old, his parents, Strava, or how about folks who refuse to play any reasonable role whatsoever in trying to make something fun just a little bit safer and maybe improve the poor reputation of cyclists among non-cyclists as selfish and irresponsible?

In D. Hewes June 22nd posting he started each of the first six sentences with the word "I".  He said "I" and "me" 14 times and "my" and "myself" 5 times in his brief comments.  It's not all about you D. Hewes.  And even though we've never met or ridden a single mile together he said, "What's dangerous for you is a walk in the park for others" and then went on in a subsequent posting to invoke Wouter Weylandt who was a top pro on a closed road but still died racing a descent.  "...a walk in the park" ?!?.  What a ridiculous comment.  When a rider pushes the envelope on a descent so that he is committed to the most aggressive line through a turn with a speed that does not allow for any line change or slight correction, an almond sized rock (or a patch of sand or an animal or wet or oily patch or a sudden puncture or a miscalculation in the line, etc etc) in the wrong place can change that "walk in the park" to a disaster in a heartbeat.  

But, again, the point is that not one single person in this thread on either side of this debate has suggested anything that would prevent anyone from riding any descent whatsoever, whenever they want at whatever speed they want.  We all descend all the time and will continue to do so, some more safely than others, without any restrictions from Strava or other riders, only from local law enforcement as is appropriate.  All that's been suggested in this thread is that racing steep, technical descents on open roads should not be encouraged with a user base that includes young and inexperienced cyclists who run even greater risk of injuring themselves and OTHERS...that the "flagging" system needs to be improved toward this end and such improvements might even prevent some abuse of the "flagging" system.  And yet somehow this has been turned by some into an infringement on cyclists rights.  Give me a break.  Utter selfish nonsense.  I'm done.

July 01, 2012 11:31 AM
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David Hüge… H.

@Mathew-Wow...For one, you have taken everything I said waaaay out of context. I never once said that the descent Weylandt was killed on was a walk in the park-read carefully next time instead of counting how many times I referred to myself. The comment was to infer that "WE" ride some difficult terrain, but I know my limitations. There are others that I ride with that can bomb those same sections with more confidence than "I". "I" encompasses most of us that are responsible riders that take cautions, not throw it into the wind. 

"When a rider pushes the envelope on a descent so that he is committed to the most aggressive line through a turn with a speed that does not allow for any line change or slight correction, an almond sized rock (or a patch of sand or an animal or wet or oily patch or a sudden puncture or a miscalculation in the line, etc etc) in the wrong place can change that "walk in the park" to a disaster in a heartbeat.  

The above comment is pure conjecture. I rode my same 30 mile route yesterday morning. We had some really bad storms come through with trees down in the road way. Is Strava supposed to police that as well? I was smart enough to know that this ride was not going to be as fast due to that fact. Flagging a ride will not keep people from doing stupid things, just like anything else, people will challenge it even more. Selfish nonsense...no. What is nonsense is people taking a pretty good site that allows cyclists to challenge themselves in a more public arena and blaming them for something "WE" already did anyway...love to ride our bikes. So please, in the future take the time to read things before you comment. Thanks-no offense towards you by the way.

July 01, 2012 01:59 PM
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archie russell

How about this:  for places where there are traffic signals/stop signs,  the segment calculator could factor that in.   If you just blow through the stop sign your time doesn't count.

If you have to stop at a stoplight,  the additional time it costs you (slowing down, waiting, accelerating) is deducted from your time.    This would discourage running through reds.

As far as finding out where the lights and stop signs are,  just look at the traffic patterns.   For a segment with enough rides there should be obvious patterns of where riders seem to stop at intersections.

July 09, 2012 02:34 PM
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M Clemley

The responsibility should rest completely with the rider.  We're not kids anymore who need a babysitter.  On a new route, go slower until you know the road.  It's not Strava's job to corral the crazies who ride gonzo just to win.   A lot of  KOMs are going to go to the guys who blow through lights, just to beat someone's time.  I say let them be roadkill.  All of this extraneous talk about flagging dangerous descents or routes with too many stop lights is a waste of the developers time. 

Strava please devote your development resources to cool new features and not features for babysitting adults.

July 11, 2012 08:11 AM
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William Barnes

I support the functionality of being able to flag hazardous segments, but agree that far too much power lies with the flagger.

It's been mooted a few times above, and I think that the best way to control this is for Strava to send an email to each rider of a flagged segment such as:

 

"Segment XXX has ben flagged as dangerous due to [reason entered by flagger], do you agree", there could then be a yes/no link.  Democracy can prevail!!

July 13, 2012 09:04 AM
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Andrew Hirst

There is also a danger that by flagging dangerous routes you encourage 'crazies' to find them out and try them, where they otherwise might not bother.

July 18, 2012 06:00 AM
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Marc Dizon

First, I stand by everything I've previously posted above. That said, here's an interesting article from a month ago that has yet to be referenced in this thread: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/06/news/family-sues-strava-over...

July 18, 2012 12:35 PM
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David Hüge… H.

Love the article. Harkens back to the days of Ozzy and Twisted Sister' lets put the blame on everyone but ourselves. "The family takes issue with this lack of accountability. “They assume no responsibility,” Kang said. “They don’t put cones out. They don’t have anybody monitor and see whether a course, or a specific segment, is dangerous.”  Wow, they got themselves a brilliant attorney; They don't put cones out? are you kidding me? 

July 18, 2012 04:14 PM
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Richard Wilson

Yeah, it really wasn't my intent to get into that kind of legal/liability stuff when I started this, I personally don't think Strava has responsibility for riders, but I think that we, the user base, need to drive evolution/refinement/improvement of the system rather than let the lawyers do it for us. I hope that the flagging system gets an overhaul and some further discussion. By the same token, knowing that the South Park Drive descent was recreated and open up for competition for folks who previously had no idea who Kim Flint was and what happened seems wrong too - almost everyone I know who rides these hills feels similarly. Just sitting back and waiting for another problem on that road doesn't feel like a responsible option. Yes, it hits harder when it's one of your local routes, but I think this could apply in many places. By definition, I would hope that flagged segments should be truly rare and should receive some scrutiny. And as David noted earlier, I've been frustrated with flagging of segments that made little sense. Unfortunately the tone of the lawsuit and the following media circus has largely been off-base, not constructive and sensationalist. I'm pretty encouraged that by and large this has been a pretty civilized discussion here....onwards.

July 18, 2012 10:33 PM
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prateek sahgal

I have had trouble seeing the leader board on the bike trail segments in Minneapolis this week.  THE BIKE TRAILS!!!  This has gotten out of control.  There are segments that are pancake flat and do not cross any roads at all that have been flagged.  Is there any recourse?

July 27, 2012 04:57 AM
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Eric Robinson

A hill climb (3.5% average grade) in my area was just flagged as hazardous. Keep in mind this is back country New Hampshire; the segment has zero construction, stop lights, dangerous intersections, and no farm animals that could wander into the road and upset you while pedaling along at 7mph. WTF?

September 01, 2012 08:29 AM
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Richard Wilson
I'd send a link with the segments in question to Strava support. I'm sure they're interested in making sure that this system isn't abused.
September 01, 2012 09:14 AM
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Eric Robinson

I did. Will keep this thread posted on their response.

September 01, 2012 09:59 AM
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Christie Cooley

Here is a vote from a very safety conscious rider (and former Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coach): do not allow users to disable segments because they feel they're hazardous. This feature is being abused.

Strava's user base has grown, and more and more segments are being removed because one or a small handful of people have decided to save the community from the "danger" of riding a bike on a certain road.  Many mountain biking segments are flagged as hazardous, which is ludicrous to me. 

A big part of the fun of Strava is the competition: uphill AND downhill.

My suggestions:

  • more proactive marketing from strava to users on safe, responsible riding, and that ONLY YOU are responsible for your bad decisions
  • implement a user-generated rating system of difficulty/danger of segments or trails (particularly in mountain biking), perhaps modeled after skiing's "double black diamond" "black diamond" "blue square" "green circle" system. For example, the Old La Honda descent, since there is no double yellow and poor sightlines, would probably warrant a double black diamond. 84 from Alice's to Portola Road, there is a double yellow, but lots of traffic, might also be a double black or black (let the users rate it and collectively decide).
  • encourage more user comments and interaction on segment pages (there is the option to add public comments on segments, even flagged ones - if there are "flagged as hazardous" segments that you disagree with, comment the hell out of them), to help educate others, share knowledge, share experiences, etc.

Guess what world...cycling is dangerous.  I've never been to the hospital as many times as since I started riding a bicycle (and I raced a 120hp motorcycle for four years before I ditched the motor).  People don't take this fact seriously enough and want to blame others for the injuries and accidents.

September 10, 2012 08:26 AM
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Eric Robinson

Amen, Christie!

the segment I bitched about above as being flagged was deleted as Strava commented "it didn't follow the road very well", in other words, GPS drift. They did not explain why it had been flagged but did let me recreate it with a new name.

September 10, 2012 08:43 AM
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Chris Kimber

I'm not sure if someone has already suggested this but can there not be some kind of vote by all the users that have ridden the segment as to whether they view it as dangerous or hazardous, there are so many segments that are being marked as dangerous that really are not. http://app.strava.com/segments/2074077 is a great example, this is just a normal road in Japan and is very safe. http://app.strava.com/segments/828128 this segment is actually a cycle path and closed to motor vehicles?! People are abusing the current system and I agree with everyone above that has stated it needs to change. 

September 10, 2012 09:40 PM
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roger kim
Ever see Mike Judge's Idiocracy? That movie is the prime example of what the flagging issue has become. Again I will reiterate, PERSONAL responsibility. If ANY sort of system is needed, then make it as simple as the thumb up/down of YouTube. There are plenty of ludicrous videos on YouTube, but none get pulled because they are unpopular or dangerous if an attempt to recreate them is made. Heck, I watched Ken Block tear San Francisco apart in a little Ford. Does it make sense to anyone that I could go buy a Ford, rip down the Golden Gate Bridge, crash on the off ramp due to excessive speed, then go to litigation with YouTube, ford, dc shoes, and the city of San Fran?
September 11, 2012 04:00 PM
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zach smith

if someone can't ride within their limits they deserve the fall. its not Strava's job to protect the ego-freak who cant maintain his fast time on a downhill. PS mountain bike and road descending is 50% of the friggin activity and i sure as heck want to know if im fast or slow compared to my community on anawesome/technical  DH. i will be the judge of my own safety.

 

if someone falls and may blame strava, we should hope they die in the crash. babies. 

September 13, 2012 09:15 PM
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Mark Massey

I just did a ride that I have done many times in the past few months only to find that one of my favorite segments has been flagged as dangerous. This happens to be one of my favorite segments on this particular loop. It is an uphill segment so I don't know why it was flagged and I don't see anything dangerous about it. I find this to be very disappointing. When someone flags a segment I think we should know who flagged it and why they flagged it.

September 26, 2012 08:57 PM
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Josh Sorem

Other people have already said this, but cycling is dangerous.  Daily conditions can drastically change how dangerous a segment is.  A simple bit-flag for "hazardous" removes the ability to deal with all the of nuances of what makes a segment hazardous. 

We have a popular multi-use trail in Portland which gets ridiculously busy with pedestrians and tourists on rental bikes.  Especially at two o'clock on a warm summer afternoon.  Trying to best a time in those conditions is unforgivable.  I ride it at seven in the morning in the wet, cold winters.  There might not be a single person out there other than me on those days.  Yet the segment is marked as hazardous and I can no longer compare my times with everyone else in my community.

Because a segment (like a flat, multi-use path) is hazardous on the day you ride it, it doesn't mean that it would have been hazardous if you had ridden it the day before or the day after.  If the flagging system is going to stay in place, and if you feel compelled to flag a segment as hazardous because of something you witnessed on the ride, maybe comment on the segment instead.  If it is consistently unsafe, in all conditions, then maybe flag it.

September 27, 2012 05:05 PM
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Arik Florimonte

Any road can be dangerous if you are going all-out.  Conditions vary, and sometimes they are not favorable for having a fast AND safe ride.  The rider needs to recognize this and take responsibility. Even a segment with traffic lights might be perfectly safe at 5AM when the lights are mostly green.

I think if segments are flagged, they should be flagged with a category, such as "dangerous descent", "traffic lights", "heavy traffic", but they should not be removed.  If # of flags hits whatever threshold that strava establishes, then a big warning should come up any time someone views the segment. Seriously, make it bigger than the segment name.  Heck, make a pop-up appear that the user has to acknowledge before they can see the data-- whatever-- but let us make up our own minds. 

The responsibility lies with the rider.

September 28, 2012 10:29 PM
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'Mitch' I.

As many have mentioned, the responsibility lies with the rider. I have had two segments flagged recently because, in someones opinion, the segment is dangerous. Not true. If a rider decides to not abide by the highway code (in the UK) then it is them that are unsafe. I ride early in the morning when there is minimum traffic around. When I ride established segments at busier times of the day the hazards are greater, by virtue of the increased presence of trafic. Does this mean that any segment I create is likely to be flagged by someone who rides them in the rush hour. Yes provide some additioonal information so users can make a judgement on the sement before they set off, but disabling segments based on opinion shouldn't happen. People have the choice whether they ride it or not, but this choice should not affect everyone. let them decide for themselves.

October 04, 2012 02:51 AM
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archie russell

 

Most here seem to be saying they don't want flagging under any circumstances.    That's going nowhere.     Some segments of road ARE dangerous to ride on and far more likely to cause serious injury....    Pothole fields,  unpredictable traffic conditions,   slippery gravel right where turns are sharp,  temporary barricades,  improper bankings,  crossing alligators, lava flows etc.      "its up to the rider" is a valid philosophy,  just like a completely free market,  but with bad press,  the risk of lawsuits,  and the risk of real injury and death,  it'll never happen.

I implore those posting here to suggest other alternatives.    For instance,  Paul Mitchell says his segment is safe in the early morning,   perhaps segments could be flagged at certain hours,  or during certain seasons.   Or perhaps segments/times where riders are clearly violating the law could be flagged.

October 04, 2012 09:20 PM
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archie russell

 

Most here seem to be saying they don't want flagging under any circumstances.    That's going nowhere.     Some segments of road ARE dangerous to ride on and far more likely to cause serious injury....    Pothole fields,  unpredictable traffic conditions,   slippery gravel right where turns are sharp,  temporary barricades,  improper bankings,  crossing alligators, lava flows etc.      "its up to the rider" is a valid philosophy,  just like a completely free market,  but with bad press,  the risk of lawsuits,  and the risk of real injury and death,  it'll never happen.

I implore those posting here to suggest other alternatives.    For instance,  Paul Mitchell says his segment is safe in the early morning,   perhaps segments could be flagged at certain hours,  or during certain seasons.   Or perhaps segments/times where riders are clearly violating the law could be flagged.

October 04, 2012 09:20 PM
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M Clemley

@archie russell

"it's up to the rider"   is NOT like a completely free market where unregulated individuals and businesses can be predatory and fraudulent.   The alternative suggestion is simply to go slow until you know the road, and know the neighbourhood.  If you ride beyond your skillset, or beyond sensible limits for your riding environment, it's 100% your fault.  No one made you do it or suggested it was a good idea.  Any rider who recklessly takes a route they don't personally know is by definition irresponsible for not taking the time to learn the route. 

 

The alternatives you ask for fall under the category of "Courteous Suggestions" or "Words to the Wise"  for other riders.  A rider's own safety should never be considered Strava's or another rider's responsibility.

Part of my commute covers a segment that I can't win without running lights and drafting on a city buses, or getting up on a Sunday morning when the streets are empty and blowing any red light.  Yesterday I had my strongest ride and moved up a few notches on one hill climb.  I was also on pace with 4 green lights to take first place at a particular segment, but got stuck at a the last light.  Had I run the light and gotten run over just to win that segment, it would be my stupid fault for ending up in a wheel chair or coffin.  

The rider owns the risk. 

October 05, 2012 03:53 AM
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zach smith

What if we all started flagging every segment as unsafe?  Then Strava would have to react to this rationally. 

October 05, 2012 07:01 AM
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David Hüge… H.

@M Clemley-right on brotha!!! Look guys and gals, we take risks everyday in everything we do. Should manufacturers of beds put on a disclaimer that falling out of your bed could injure you? If Strava never existed, would you have stopped riding because of an intersection or steep grade hill? NO!!!!!!!  If you want to ride 50 mph down a dangerous decent to get a virtual gold crown or challenge an intersection because some moron made a segment that includes a traffic signal-do it at your own risk. People need to stop passing the buck to try making their point valid. There is only one point-Just ride your bike and and dont be stupid and watch out for those who are stupid...period!

October 05, 2012 03:04 PM
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Scotty P.

how bout we stop using strava?? i'm tired of these stupid flags, cuz someone got scared. biking is dangerous, period! i get it, we get. i'm hoping some other company will listen to this backlash and create a program for the riders and controlled by the riders without limitations. it defeats the WHOLE purpose of the application. end of today, strava deleted...

October 06, 2012 06:56 PM
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Chris Kimber

I submitted a few segments to strava to see if they would remove the hazardous flags, simple answer, they wont. You just got the stock response "This system is in place to keep the competition safe on Strava, and it relies on the feedback of our users - Unfortunately, we are not in a position to remove hazardous flags, as we don't know the hazards present on a given segment. We understand that the current functionality of this feature is limiting, especially after one person flags a segment as Hazardous, and we are working on ways to increase this functionality" 

As it stands, one person can mark a segment as hazardous but if I say it isn't hazardous that doesn't count for anything? I accept there should be some kind of system in place, but not one where just one person can ruin 100s of peoples fun, as Zach Smith said above, if we just marked every segment we rode as hazardous then there is no point in the site anymore. I made this point in one of my emails but I just got the response above. I have to say I'm growing impatient with Strava as they don't seem to be proactive about this at all.

October 06, 2012 07:27 PM
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Joe Ferguson

I just deleted all of my segments, well, all except one that had been flagged as hazardous.  Paradoxically that flagging caused me to be unable to delete the segment.  I did open a support case and it should be resolved soon.  However, I rebel against the notion that segments I may create could be controlled in that manner by random, un-named flag wavers who may or may not even have ever ridden (or seen) the segment in question.  I deleted my segments because I refuse to accept the risk of riders naming me in a lawsuit just because I defined a section of road as one that I happen to like to ride.  Creating a voluminous "Agreement" to click on before giving access to the software is NOT the answer.  When anyone gets on their bike and rolls down the road or trail it should be clearly their own personal responsibility to scope out the lay of the land and not just follow "directions".  Just because I did it before they did doesn't make me their guardian or guide. Apart from the obvious fiscal considerations I simply don't want to be responsible for anyone else getting themselves into a jam just because on one particular day I happened to think that some part of my own ride was noteworthy. 

October 09, 2012 01:59 PM
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David Kopf

Maybe you all can give me a little feedback/direction: I want to flag a segment. I want to flag it not because it is dangerous to riders, but because it is unsafe to pedestrians.

It's on a paved MUP and features blind corners, including one into a dark tunnel. I have been riding this MUP -- at a purposefully casual pace -- for years and years, and except on early mornings, it is heavy with pedestrian traffic including kids, parents with strollers, and a guy in a power wheelchair who regularly uses the path. Despite that, there are some fellow cyclists who regularly hammer this stretch of MUP for KOMs because someone made it a segment. It drives me nuts. The danger to the peds on this road is obvious and no one should be cranking out the paces that they are.

That said, I feel like the flagging system is super final. I really wish the process was more democratic. Ideally, I'd want to contact the rider that created it and ask him or her to do the right thing and take it down, or to have all the riders on the leaderboard take a vote. Hopefully, in either case, sanity would prevail.

So, do I simply flag the thing and pull the plug, or hope that Strava comes up with a better way? I don't want to bum out the 500-odd people on the board, but I'm guessing that the majority of them do not take that particularly segment seriously, and the ones at the top have bad judgement that shouldn't be encouraged. So maybe I won't be such a monster for flagging it. I don't want to be a jerk, but if me going down as a jerk reduces the likelihood of the guy in the wheelchair getting nailed on a close corner, maybe that's okay...

October 10, 2012 12:48 PM
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zach smith

David has a great point. This always comes back to the ego-freak who cant show restraint when th conditions are unfavorable for "racing". 

Hey wait, maybe Stravassholes will bring some new collision insurance mandate down on cyclists, and maybe pedestrians should carry uninsured cyclist insurance too in case they get hit by a biker. 

 

Ludicrous

October 10, 2012 12:56 PM
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Josh Sorem

Part of the reason I use Strava is to compare my results with the results of my friends.  None of us really try to hammer out KOMs unless we're in a sanctioned race.  Perhaps one of the solutions would be to downplay KOM/QOM and, instead, hype up another aspect of riding which doesn't necessarily emphasize speed (for example, most rides logged on segment or best average time).  Or, perhaps when segments are marked as hazardous, rather than locking the segment outright, we could still see the results of our friends and our history on that segment.  Or, allow us to opt into (or out of) a "racing" version of Strava - if you're not interested in racing, then hazardous segments aren't hidden from you.

October 10, 2012 01:07 PM
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James White

I lost a local KOM the other day to a rider. I went out and took it back... 2 hours later it got flagged and disappeared.

October 10, 2012 03:51 PM
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James White

Hey Josh ... Map My Ride is doing exactly what you recommended. They are avoiding the KOM/top speed approach and have instead created a formula that accounts for # of rides, average speed, etc. etc. Who knows..

October 10, 2012 03:53 PM
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Tom Bleskan
Hey James- I recently checked out map my ride, and I am not impressed. The Strava framework and community suit me much better. But that is not to say that Strava couldn't be improved. I think flagging a segment is a valuable asset to have, but I would like to see it done with a "community consensus" approach. Perhaps an open discussion with the active participants in a segment regarding the issues and possible solutions, before actually taking an action as permanent and all inclusive as flagging seems to be. I also think there should be a mechanism for modifying a segment to address specific issues, and keep the rest of the segment intact. (don't throw out the baby with the bath water) I don't know if this is feasible, or if I am just blowing smoke thinking we could reach a consensus amongst ourselves. Just a quick PS Strava is a great resource, and I am enjoying the heck out it- warts and all!
October 12, 2012 09:16 PM
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Scotty P.

james, why is flagging a segment a valuable asset?? Strava should NEVER flag a segment or ANY segment. what's wrong with people taking responsibility for themselves? flagging takes away the WHOLE purpose of this app. Strava should just record time, not police, period!

October 12, 2012 09:43 PM
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Caspar M.

I think the flagging thing is quit stupid.

 

I have a few examples of flagged segments that were good and the stupid one (the ones that cross the next big street) are still there.

 

There should at least be a second control, or the possibility to contact the flagger, or the need for an written explanation before flagging.

Because at the end you could basically just flag all inner city segments...

There's always a danger.

Also it develops a inflationary development of segments.

October 13, 2012 03:50 AM
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Nate P

I'm fine with segments being flagable, but there needs to be a way to report flagging abuse.  Someone flagged this segment: http://app.strava.com/segments/2423876 as hazardous.  I've seen similarly flagged  It's a wide uphill bike path with safe margin at both ends of the segment.  It could only be either someone upset about losing a KOM (I was KOM for awhile, but I'd rather try to ride it faster than flag it as hazardous) or a walker upset at bikers.  I think justification needs to be given for hazardous segments (intersections, downhill, insufficient "padding" etc...) that would be displayed on the segment page.  Then depending on the reason people could fix the segment if it was unsafe padding for example, which would reduce duplicate segments needing to be created.  Just as individual efforts can be flagged for bad data, Hazardous segments should be flaggable for "abuse".  I think finally, people shouldn't be able to flag segments (and probably create them either) unless they've had a certain number of activitie/miles logged.  That would make it at least a bit harder to be a non-rider/runner to get a strava account and start screwing up the community for everyone else.  Or maybe just make it so people have to "accept" an additional big scary warning for people to be able to see leaderboards for hazardous segments.

October 15, 2012 10:13 AM
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Joe Ferguson
I had a segment flagged that was the second half of our local veloway (3 mile, bike and roller blade Only, park which is not open to motorized vehicles or pedestrians other than emergency and service vehicles). The curious fact is that only the second half of the loop was flagged (the entire loop itself is also a segment to give lap times, and there were segments for the first and second halves). Not only that but the flagged second half also contained many other segments, none of which were flagged. This makes no sense whatsoever. An anonymous Strava user randomnly decided that it should be flagged, while the entire loop in which it sits remains available, and while all of its sub-segments also remain in effect. Pretty stupid if you ask me. Put a black diamond on the offending spot if it bothers you. That would let other users know that someone else thinks it is hazardous. But to allow anyone with an ID to simply erase it is simply preposterous. I deleted all of my segments. Next I should start to flag every segment on which I am not the KOM (that would be ALL OF THEM). How long before the system changes if we all just start eliminating rides for the sake of public safety?
October 15, 2012 11:16 AM
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Peter Mellows

Something here that nobody has mentioned: Perhaps only Premium Members can flag a ride? Premium members should know the risks involved in cycling, and are therefore more capable at deciding whether a segment is truly hazardous.

I know of a few riders around my area that consciously  flagged a segment after discussion. This is a good thing, although I agree that more reasoning should be given on the segment page.

I have held a few KOMs of my own. One is particularly dangerous and was fiercely competed between myself and one other rider. There cam a point where we both decided it was not worth pushing any further. Then a pro rider smashed the time. The segment is still there.

Another, http://app.strava.com/segments/849578 is not dangerous at all, but was flagged hazardous for whatever reason. I can only assume someone was pissed because they couldn't get it. I will never know.

November 02, 2012 10:29 PM
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Christopher M.

Maybe if Strava brought back the (just recently removed) ability to write useful comments about the segment route, along the bottom of the actual segment page (and also replaced the now removed old comments) then this would solve the problem in about 95% of cases. As I suggested in this thread -

https://strava.zendesk.com/entries/22134122-comments-on-segment-page-gone

But very few people seem to have shown any interest in this removed (without any explanation) feature.

Perhaps it was something to do with the recent court case, in which case I think the ability to add comments to segments was probably working in Stavas favour, and not in any way incriminating.

If I am wrong, then I apologise in advance for opening my big fat mouth.

 

November 03, 2012 03:42 AM
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Richard Wilson
Hey Christopher, I'm thinking that the ongoing legal action has something to do with that - the couple of segments which described the downhill segment in that prompted this post had attracted some pretty dumb/offensive comments. I assumed that the comments were turned off because the system was being abused by idiots.
November 03, 2012 06:18 AM
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Christopher M.

Hi Richard,

Thats a shame, but I understand.

Thanks for the info.

 

November 03, 2012 08:27 AM
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Duane Gran

With regard to stop lights, Strava could in theory analyze the data for repeated zero movement data within segments to automatically find these I would think.  If even 5% of riders all stop at the same place mid-segment it stands to reason that they hit a red light and that the segment is invalid either due to safety or fairness.

November 07, 2012 05:14 PM
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Arik Florimonte

You could come up with a reason to flag anything.  As I said before, there will always be conditions under which a segment could be considered dangerous.  The same segment that you want automatically flagged due to an apparent traffic light could be used in a local road race or crit, during which it would be perfectly safe.  Here's a good example: http://app.strava.com/segments/636735.  Anyone gonna flag that one? Because you know, it has a few stop lights.

The current system is highly flawed, because one person can ruin something for everyone.  Hopefully Strava will recognize this and do something to improve it.  There have been plenty of good suggestions as to how that could be done.

November 07, 2012 06:33 PM
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Duane Gran

Good points, Arik.  Maybe this all goes back to an idea that I (and others) have suggested: local moderators.  Out here in Virginia I couldn't tell you if a Colorado segment is safe or dangerous by looking at a map or the gps data, but someone who has ridden the route 20+ times can.  I can envision a way where frequent users of strava can self-identify as moderators and when routes get flagged they are prompted for their input.  Maybe require 3 agreements on a what makes a segment unsafe to ensure fairness.  You won't make everyone happy, let alone the person who loses the KOM over it, but it would be an improvement.

November 08, 2012 05:03 AM
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Ken Raleigh

Who represents the other users on the trail in this discussion of safety?  It's one thing if a cyclist wants to ride a "dangerous" trail and assume that risk.  But what about the hiker coming up the trail?  Who is looking out for him?

November 08, 2012 10:20 AM
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Peter Mellows
Ken, I think you're losing sight of the issue here. Strava cannot be liable for the behaviour of the general public. It is not up to Strava to police roads and trails, they simply provide a service that we love to use. I know plenty of cyclists who don't use Strava, some of whom have little regard for the safety of others. Who should be responsible for those people? You are talking about lack of common sense. Education is required instead of looking for a scapegoat to blame.
November 08, 2012 01:49 PM
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Ken Raleigh

Peter ... Mountain bikers in CA are losing access to trails because of safety concerns, some of them directly related to Strava.  It makes no sense to me to have a downhill segment accessible on Strava for a multi-use trail on which hikers or equestrians frequent.  The whole point of Strava is to post the fastest time.  It's great that Strava can not be liable ... good for them.  I am more concerned about mountain bike access to public trails.

November 08, 2012 06:50 PM
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David Hüge… H.

It seems that the flagging issue is not only being used for the "dangerous" aspect, but sore ass losers that cant handle someone taking their precious crown, so they flag the ride. I will admit, I am not a KOM freak nor do I go purposefully hunting for any; I use them for my own personal fitness goals. This whole flagging thing just needs to be gone and done with or just like previous posts have remarked-make the flagger known so we can see who the cry baby is.

November 08, 2012 07:08 PM
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Commuter Stib

I'm glad for my own sake that there is a hazardous segment feature. I'm dumb enough to push myself too hard on a tricky downhill just to creep up the ranking, but it's obvious that it's being abused.

A perfect example: this segment has been flagged as hazardous: http://app.strava.com/segments/2459449 This would have to be one of the least hazardous peice of concrete in the world. It's a dedicated bike/pedestrian path, nearly straight, dead flat, generously wide, smooth, with very low traffic volumes (both pedestrian and bicycle) and it even has a roof over it so it doesn't get wet (it runs under a freeway). It's a perfect place to wind it out without endangering yourself or anyone else.

And I'd just made the top ten.

November 12, 2012 07:04 PM
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Alan Dakin

I can see that downhill segments could be dangerous, I'm not very good at descending but have been tempted to go a bit faster down my local downhill segment, still I believe within my capabilities but if at 63 years old I am tempted, what about a 16 year old! 

 

However the current system of flagging is useless, because there doesn't appear to be any way to prevent flagging of perfectly good uphill segments - theoretically there is a danger in every segment in that someone could push themselves too hard and suffer an heart attack - the only way to avoid this is to  remove all segments - clearly defeating the whole idea of Strava.

December 08, 2012 03:17 AM
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James Mangold

How can a segment that has been marked as "This segment has been flagged as hazardous." be changed back to normal? I found a segment taht I frequently ride is now suddenly hazardous, funny thing is that there are 2 segments (longer) on the same section and 1 sgment going in the opposite direction and this road is safe there is nothing hazardous about it at all.

December 19, 2012 12:41 AM
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Commuter Stib

It's broken both ways: it fails because safe segments can be marked as hazardous with no review, and it fails to protect users by marking truly dangerous segments because you can just create a new segment on the same piece of road.

If Strava actually care about user's safety (and probably their own liability) they need to do something about this.

December 19, 2012 04:08 PM
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David Hüge… H.

It is flawed, but isnt broken. IT IS NOT STRAVA'S RESPONSIBILITY TO BE BABYSITTERS PEOPLE! You have an avatar with someone shooting a gun. Is it up to Remington to follow everyone around that owns their guns to make sure they stay within the parameters of the law? No, it is YOUR responsibility. They assume that you are smart enough to abide by the law and use common sense when shooting it. This is no different. If anyone lacks the common sense to take it upon his or herself to go beyond their limitations for a digital trophy, than you deserve what happens to you; it is as simple as that. 

December 19, 2012 04:22 PM
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Andrew Gambier

I came to this thread looking for a way to flag up a dangerous segment and I've read through all the comments. I think only two of you have any regard for other road-users. Every one else is all "Me! Me! Me! Me!" and thinking about their own records.

There are some segments that are simply inappropriate because they involve routes where it can never be safe for other road-users at any time of the day. Sure, you might not care about your own safety, but I do think Strava should be responsive to segments that, by their very nature, are unsafe for other people. These other people have never heard of Strava and Strava does to my mind owe these people a duty of care where these dangerous segments have been reported to them.

Those of you who are only thinking about yourselves should stop and think. Because your selfishness is appalling. Strava, and the rest of the world, isn't just about you.

December 29, 2012 10:43 AM
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Scotty P.

andrew your an idiot! its babies like you that ruin it for everyone else. strava should NOT be flagging ANY segments. it not stravas job to police all the trails. YOU have to take some responsibility! do they shut down the tour de france when someone dies? do they stop NASCAR when someone dies? should Nike be responsible if someone dies from a heart attack because there sensors in there shoes recorded there workouts and he ran too hard?

 

fuck off and let responsible people use and enjoy this site. more bozos like you and everything will be flagged and there will be no point in using this app anymore

 

December 29, 2012 11:04 AM
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Andrew Gambier

@Scotty P.

You just proved my point.

December 29, 2012 11:43 AM
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David Hüge… H.

Good on ya Scotty! Hey Andrew, there are roads around my way that I dont like to drive in my car, let alone ride the bike...you guessed it I DONT DRIVE THEM! There are downhill segments that I know how to ride on the mountainbike...you guessed right again, I RIDE WITHIN MY OWN BOUNDRIES AND LIMITATIONS. YOU shouldnt be flagging anything just because you think it is dangerous. There are always going to be people that want to push the limits, that is the risk they take. If Strava didnt exist, would you still ride those areas? YES. Just as everyone did forever! If someone chooses to ride a section that is dangerous, that is a choice they made. I think I will turn my Garmin on during a normal day of work, or just walking around and see how many "hazardous" segments I can make. Someone can fall down your steps at home after slipping on ice and that could be it for them. Who is to blame for that? In a nutshell, there are people that go out of their way to "find" things to put the blame on others. Most of us were brought up to be "responsible" adults, it is time that some of us start using that.

December 29, 2012 12:39 PM
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Scotty P.

BRAVO MORO!

 

i really hope a starva competitor starts a similar app that doesn't have this ridiculous flagging feature. i'd be gone in a heartbeat

December 29, 2012 01:29 PM
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David Hüge… H.

It is a shame. I dont think they thought it would be an issue. I think on paper it sounded great, but people will always find a reason to pass the blame to legitimize their own opinions. It has got to the point where people are flagging rides because of someone taking on of their precious KOM's as well. Those are the flags I would love to know the flagger for sure.

December 29, 2012 01:41 PM
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Andrew Gambier

@Moro

Let me spell it out for you, because you and others seem to be missing the fundamental point:

It. Isn't. About. You.

It's about other people.

Sure, you may be able to ride your bike safely down a path. But perhaps the park regulations don't permit bikes to be ridden on that section. So Strava shouldn't have a segment there.

Sure, you may feel you can run safely along a railway platform or through a shopping centre. But the railway rules or shopping centre management do not permit a right of way for that purpose. So Strava shouldn't have a segment there.

Do I need to keep providing examples for you? Or do you honestly think that your judgement should trump local by-laws?

And, sure, you may be able to exercise safely in the examples I've given above. But Strava doesn't need to be, and shouldn't be, encouraging you to do them faster.

December 29, 2012 01:54 PM
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Eric Robinson

Strava isn't, nor should be, the internet police. If you can't abide by the rules of the road, that's your fault not Strava's. If you crash into somebody because of your own stupidity, that's your fault not Strava.

Why not take it a step further Andrew and when Strava notices a segment on a non-bike, park section as you mention above they look up everybody that has ridden it and contact the local police departments? Stop worrying about everybody else, we can take care of ourselves.

December 29, 2012 02:02 PM
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Andrew Gambier

@Eric

"We can take care of ourselves".

It isn't about you. 

December 29, 2012 02:09 PM
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Eric Robinson

Apparently, it's about you. YOU are the one so concerned about the welfare of others and then spout "it's not about you". You have succeeded in taking an almost dead thread and pissing everybody off, go play somewhere else.

December 29, 2012 02:17 PM
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zach smith

I posted early on in this and i've enjoyed the dialogue.  Andrew, strava is is not an animal, or an organism that thinks, it is a chalkboard, albeit a very hightech chalkboard. Its a like we all put a chalkboard on the roadside and marked "the fastest time from point a to b was done on this date by this rider" Then others can benchmark their speed/skill without having to wait for saturday races etc. 

I feel like a normal guy, and when i approach a segment, i assess if its safe for me and anyone i encounter. if it is not safe, i decide to try another day or skip it.  yeah, there are reckless folks in the strava community who make bad moves, but most the time they only hurt themselves, and thats super duper! The rest of us mature and intelligent people looking to have a little non-sanctioned competition in our neighborhood would appreciate it if people refrained from flagging segments.

Besides, its very quick to recreate a segment, unless Strava has blocked that now. 

December 29, 2012 02:22 PM
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Peter Mellows

@Andrew, you are correct: it isn't about you - it's about all of us.

Each Strava user logs their ride for a myriad of reasons. Most of us like to push our limits, as this is how we improve our fitness and skill levels. Some of us do so within the bounds of the law, where others go further (sometimes too far).

Further, Strava cannot possibly be responsible for policing segments throughout the whole world. I would imagine this is why they introduced the flag system. Unfortunately, the current system was built in early in the development cycle and simply does not work effectively, when over 500 million miles were run and ridden just this year. To say that a single person can flag a segment as dangerous, effectively ruining it for all others, is preposterous.

Yes, we should all be mindful of the law and other people - and it may surprise you that most of us are! - however, Strava provides each of us a way to better ourselves, to push our limits, to acheive more. Would you spoil that for us?

If you are concerned about people riding in undesignated areas, perhaps you should contact your local councillor (who IS responsible), to affect change in your local area. Or, (please excuse my single snide comment) write a letter to the editor where you can be equally ignored.

December 29, 2012 02:26 PM
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Eric Robinson

Well said Zach & Peter. What it boils down to, at the end of the day we are all responsible for our own actions.

December 29, 2012 02:28 PM
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Scotty P.

eric, david... forget it. he doesn't get it and just keeps blabbing the same stupid argument.

 

I'M going for a ride now on a SCARY, unflagged trail and hope I don't kill myself!

December 29, 2012 02:34 PM
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Richard Wilson

I suspect this thread has run its course, I'm left thinking that a better thread would be "how can we fix segment flags?". I don't see flagging going away - given the realities of the last couple of years, as a growing business I don't think Strava has a choice. I'd vote for some mix of the following:

  • Enable some feedback mechanism (to an admin and/or the segment flagger) to allow abuse of the flagging system to be outed.
  • Gather some guidance about when to flag - it's a pain in the arse if a local segment is flagged for no good reason.
  • Retain the option to modify a segment - peel back a finish point 300yds before a stop sign/traffic light for instance.
Andrew's point isn't lost on me -- I see local segments where trying to get a KOM would be likely to increase a cyclist/pedestrian accident (MUP's for instance). None of this was supposed to be about stopping anyone riding on any road/trail any time they wanted to.
December 29, 2012 03:38 PM
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Juan Gomez

After reading the whole thread I really think few people are taking an objective look at this. I belive this is because all of the arguments of people upset by the flagging of segments are centred on their own safety and perspective. Please keep in mind the following points before posting again:
- KOMs and segment leaderboards is a form of competition. It is asynchronous competition, but it is competition. The same common sense applied to normal competition should be applied to Strava.
- Don’t separate Strava from its users. We are a community. As so, each time I mention Strava in this reply I’m referring to the company and its users as one single entity.

Now some counter points:
- "Yeah, the segment is perfectly safe on a Sunday morning at 5:00 am when I ride it!". True, but the segment is still there at rush hour. If it is unsafe on rush hour (or any other time of the day), then we shouldn't be competing on it.
- "I know how dangerous cycling can be and I decided to take the risk". True. And I agree. You should be allow to put yourself in danger as much as you want. The problem is that you are not alone in the rode. The safety of others is also important and we, as a COMMUNITY, should take steps to protect the people who share the roads with us. Its a shame that nobody took the time to answer @David Kopf’s question. What would you do in shoes? I would flag the segment with no remorse whatsoever.
- "Strava is not Internet police! they shouldn't flag anything". True. And I agree. Strava shouldn't flag any segment, and THEY ARE NOT THE ONES DOING IT!. The segments are being flag by other members of the COMMUNITY who think that competition shouldn't be encouraged in a particular segment not because danger to the riders (Again, I agree with the "I'm responsible for my own safety" stuff), but because they are dangerous to other stakeholders in the road like pedestrians or hikers.
- "The flagging system is being abused". True. And I agree with this in the cases of people flagging a segment after losing a KOM. This is just pathetic! However, wouldn't it be possible that they were flagged by someone that just saw them as dangerous? Now, even if this is the case, the flagging system could be improved with some of the suggestion mentioned by other people in this post.

As you can see, I agree with @Andrew Gambier. We as a COMMUNITY should not only be concern with our own safety, but also with the safety of other road users. Disregard for OTHER PEOPLE safety is the most criticized thing against cycling, and its the most criticized thing about motorists as well.

Now, some suggestions:
- Don't generalise from your case. The fact that you are an intelligent adult with common sense and a good judgment doesn’t mean that the rest of us are. Teenagers use Strava too, as do adults that behave as teenagers. Lots of them. Don’t try to block the sun with one finger. Cases of people making bad judgments because of a KOM and putting others at risk are so common that we already have a name for them; stravasholes.
- Stop asking for a no holds barred site with no segment flagging. Not only its not going to happen, but it is highly undesirable. Competition is sometimes dangerous to people not involved in the competition, and in cases of unsensible risk (for example around school zones) not only to us but to other road users, we should not compete. Thats why fast-and-furious style motor racing is illegal; not because the safety of the people racing, but because the safety of OTHER people.
- Base the discussion around risk. The whole idea of the flagging system is to reduce the risk of bad judgement taking over due to competition. So, can we all agree on what is too much risk? Are segments that go near school zones too risky? segments with red lights or stop signs? roundabouts? Junctions with poor visibility? Once again, this is about reducing risk not only for us but also for other road users, and to sometimes you have to take one for the team and make a personal sacrifice (I don’t think a segment is a sacrifice, but thats just me) for the greater good. And don’t come with that bs about how you manage to avoid risk because you are so aware of your skills and limits! Try to go beyond your case for a minute.
- Stop justifying things like running through red lights and stop signs. It makes us all sound like the selfish bastards everyone seems to think we are.

So please, looking to move the discussion forward, what would you consider dangerous? This is my list:
- School zones
- Hospitals
- Shared urban paths (pedestrians are unpredictable)
- Traffic lights
- Urban roads with heavy traffic (buses, lorries, etc)
- Urban Roundabouts

Finally, before you try to explain your position around this issue, try testing your argument by putting yourself in the following scenario. Let say that tomorrow some genius launches an Strava clone, but for cars. Lets say that you start noticing an increase of motorist running through red lights and speeding around your area because they want to achieve the KOM on a given segment. Let say that you consider that segment to be dangerous because you cycle around it, or because it coincides with your kid's school bus route. Would you flag it in an attempt to disencourage what you consider dangerous competition? Now, before blasting anyone trying to defend segment flagging, realize that anything you say in favour of competing for a KOM in strava, applies to the motorist speeding and driving very close to his or her limits right next to you on those lovely sunday morning rides with your kids.

January 15, 2013 01:24 AM
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Arik Florimonte

Juan, comparing cyclists to cars makes no sense. When a car speeds, it is a danger to everyone. The risks to the general public when a car runs a stop sign are 1000s of times what they are when a cyclist does it. I am not saying that cyclists should ignore all stop signs. What I am saying is that you do your point of view a disservice by making that ridiculous comparison.

Having said that... I do like your point about not generalizing from your own case. That is a good thing to keep in mind.

The problem with all-or-nothing flagging is that segments are not _always_ dangerous and not _always_ safe. Any segment can be dangerous if ridden at the wrong time or under the wrong conditions. Almost any segment can be made safe under controlled conditions. Taking away a segment because it gets one complaint is like taking away your driver's license if you get one ticket.

I think a source of much of the disagreemnt about flagging is because there are different reasons for flagging. Without identifying the reason for the flag, it is almost impossible to evaluate the validity of the flag.

For example, do we want flagging to remove a segment when the only risk is to rider? I think the large majority here has been saying no, we don't want or need to be saved from ourselves. We want to take responsibility for ourselves.

Another example, do we want a system that protects the general public from being injured by cyclists? I think responsible people would agree that yes, we would be willing to give up segments in order to look out for others.

But hang on, this is not as simple as it seems. Most MTB trails are also used by hikers or horses. Does that mean there should be no MTB segments? Most bike paths are also used by pedestrians. Should there be no segments on a bike path?

IMO in order to design a better flagging system there needs to be acknowledgement that there is no black and white. The current system strikes me as a cop-out on the part of Strava (the company). They can throw up their hands and say, "we gave the community full power to remove any dangerous segment, so it's not our fault if anything bad happens." The current system is not serving strava users effectively.

As I've said before, a better system would acknowledge the grey areas and include a sliding scale based on community feedback. One user shouldn't be able to remove a segment. Here are some parameters that I propose:

1. When flagging, a user must include a reason or reasons from a list of reasons as well as an explanation. (If they do not include the explanation, the flag is expunged)
2. (Possible) list of reasons for flag:
Danger to the rider

  • treacherous descent
  • sharp/blind corners
  • heavy car traffic
  • small or no margin/shoulder
  • includes a stop sign or traffic signal
  • heavy use at certain times of the day
  • poor road quality
  • disproportionately dangerous during/after rain

Danger to others

  • heavily used by pedestrians (or equestrians)
  • heavily used by other cyclists
  • includes a stop sign or traffic signal
  • multi-use path with blind corners

(Obviously there could be others. Keep the list fairly short and get details in the comments.)

3. When a segment is flagged, the other people who have ridden that segment should be emailed so they can also flag or comment.
4. Users should be able to vouch for a segment, explaining why it is safe, which would reduce the flag count
5. Any segment that has received ANY flags at all should display a pop-up that explains what has been flagged. This would have to be acknowledged before seeing the leader board.
6. Segments should include a danger rating. For example, a color code: green means no flags, yellow for a few flags, and red means heavily flagged. Obviously there needs to be a big disclaimer saying that just because it is green doesn't mean it is safe, yadda yadda yadda (see #5)
7. Segments with multiple flags for "danger to others" should be disabled.

Regarding that last one, yes, we might lose some segments that we like, but it would still be an improvement because at least it would take multiple flags. And let's face it, even though cars kill tens of thousands of people a year, & cyclists only a tiny fraction of that if at all, people still like to complain about cyclists way more than they do about cars. We need to do what we can not to fan those flames.

There is obviously a need for flagging. Here's a good example:
Last year I scouted a segment near where I work and when out to challenge for the KOM. It was about a 3 minute uphill effort. What I didn't know was that there was a traffic light about 3/4 of the way up. Well, after putting in all that effort I really didn't want to stop at that light, as I am sure a lot of you can relate. If there had been a flagging system I would have been alerted about the light and would have been prepared. I haven't flagged that segment to remove it because it is possible, even likely, to catch the light green.

It's true that I could have, or even should have, scouted the road first. But, if I made that mistake, I'm sure others will too. Having a useful flagging system would have made that information much more easily available.

To sum up.
Given that people are human and competition sometimes makes us make poor decisions, I agree that some segments are just too dangerous to other people and should be removed. And where the danger is overwhelmingly to the riders of a segment themselves, the riders need to take responsibility for their own safety.

There is no reason we can't develop a good system for doing both.

Thanks for reading

Arik

January 15, 2013 11:41 AM
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Joe Ferguson

It is amazing to me how far some folks will go on a tangent without ever looking back to see that they are off the page entirely.  The entire issue of Flagging Segments arises from the Strava's desire to protect itself as a company.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with safety, reasonability, fun, or any other motivation to which these many, otherwise well thought out, answers may alude.  It is Strava hearing from their lawyers "you can be sued unless you do something" and then they did what their lawyers said would undo the assumption of risk argument inherent in providing a forum for athletic endeavor.  Turn your ticket over the next time you attend a baseball game, or a hockey match, or even a tennis tournament.  Likely it will say, in legalese words to this effect, "if you get hit by a ball, puck, or racket you have only yourself to blame. Thanks for assuming all the risk.".  So before getting all wrapped around the axel on this let's just consider that they have tried to make themselves judgement proof.  Whether or not they have succeeded remains to be seen.  I deleted just about all of my own segments.  When my friends asked where they went I said I was not interested in assuming any risk for them or for Strava, and that they should feel free to create their own segment if they missed it so much.  None of them have done so.  I expect that is because they don't want to share in the risk either. 

January 15, 2013 12:45 PM
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Juan Gomez

@Arik 

I don't think the comparison is that ridiculous. Sure, the aftermath of a car crash between a car and a pedestrian is much worse than a cycle - pedestrian crash. However, the probability of causing an accident while driving (a car or a bicycle) with competition in mind is basically the same. Anyway, that's not the big point here.

The two-way flag system seems like a huge improvement. Flagging a segment as dangerous for cyclists because of technical difficulties, road conditions, constant presence of hostile drivers (I wouldn't like to drive near this guy http://303cycling.com/bad-east-longmont-driving) or high change of robbery (something that no one has mentioned so far) will allow us to take responsibility for ourselves. Lets call this warnings instead of flags. On the other hand, flagging a segment as dangerous for others is another deal. Segments in which competition represents an high risk to other road users should be taken down. Is that too much of a sacrifice for strava users? Come on...

I know that I would like to know is a segment is to technically difficult or if there are recent reports of attempted robbery before trying myself in a segment. It can even happen in real time; strava mobile app can inform me if I'm entering a segment with warnings.

Another improvement would be to include a survey-like form for flagging. People flagging a segment should tick the boxes of the reasons for which they consider the segment dangerous (e.g. school zones, traffic lights, high traffic junction, etc). If a lot of people give the same reasons to flag the segment, then the flagging reasons are consistent an should be taken seriously. The segment should be taken down.

Some segments will be taken down, but it'll be for the best.

@Joe Ferguson

I really think that you are using this legal issue as a straw man to attack the flagging system.

Legally, Strava (the company) is completely safe with the usual terms of service we agreed to when we sign up to the service. You do have a point in that users are not that safe (take a look at this http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/06/28/use-strava-get-sued/). Strava should change their terms of service to protect the users in a better way.

However, legal liability, in my view, has little to do with the community taking responsibility for the competition we encourage with segments and KOMs.

January 16, 2013 02:00 AM
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Patrick C.

Hello I am new to Strava but i a mystified how an uphill section can be classified as "dangerous".  I can see that many uphill segment time comparisons are dangerous to my ego but certainly not to my health!

 A big example is the classic "Col de la Madone" climb behind Menton.  This is the one around here that was made iconic in Lance Armstrongs book and is truly  a great climb. 

I can see that the decent can certainly be classified as dangerous but the climb being dangerous seems insane, and the climb is what is being timed!  how can one get this  "dangerous" label removed so we can see the leaderboard?

January 16, 2013 03:46 AM
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Juan Gomez

This is the segment @Patrick is talking about http://app.strava.com/segments/2363. Its really estrange indeed. An great example of the need for a better system

January 16, 2013 07:55 AM
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Joe Ferguson

@Arik:

Indeed I am using this legal issue as a straw man to attack the flagging system.

I think that system is generally flawed and is contrary to the social system interaction apparently intended by the creation of shared segments.  If in fact, Legally, Strava (the company) is completely safe with the usual terms of service we agreed to when we sign up to the service they would not have taken the additional step of explicitly defering all risk to the user. Unfortunatly they deferred all responsibility to random and anomymous users so that you can flag any segment on which you can't unseat the KOM.  Flagging is like "lawyer bumps".  Those are the little nubs that sprouted on the ends of your fork when some dummy forgot to tighten his quick release lever.  They do not keep you safe but you must take action to defeat them temporarily (by unscrewing the quick release: thus rendering it no longer quick nor a release system) or permanently (by filing them off, so that the quick release system again works as designed).   Might I suggest that all segments be renamed "by riding this segment you hereby intend to hold harmless the originator ____ and then follow that caveat with the segment's name.  You are right, Strava SHOULD change their terms of service to protect the users in a better way.

January 16, 2013 08:37 AM
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Grizz Kid

Strava racing is a great way to get singletrack closed to bikes.  You're blasting down the trail, you just know you are so close to getting the best time ever.   You see a group of hikers below and yell "Strava! Strava! Look out!"  As you narrowly miss the hikers, you yell  "Sorry dude, but I'm on my way to a KOM!"  And you wonder why people want to flag a route?!  You road riders-Strava all you want, but us MTB'ers allready have enough problems keeping trails open.  Folks, please get a clue!  I know, 97% of you are careful and always give the right of way to hikers.  It only takes 3% to ruin it for the rest of us.  Let's not encourage them with Strava.

February 17, 2013 12:10 AM
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David Bussey
Te same rider could do this with a stop watch, the segment has nothing to do with it, it's the rider who is unsafe, not the trail descent or ride, sheesh people. It's like 3rd grade here. Flag for cars fake times but leave the segments as is,
February 24, 2013 11:49 AM