Mark Parton MLA has labelled his idea that Strava data be used to track and penalise people riding bikes too fast around Canberra “the silliest thing I’ve said publicly since being elected”.
“It didn’t take much examination for me to realise that the suggestion was ludicrous.”
Mr Parton is an enthusiastic bike rider, often commuting from his home in Tuggeranong to the Legislative Assembly. He told Pedal Power ACT last week that he first started cycling during a weight loss challenge while working as a radio host.
“I found I could eat whatever I wanted, as long as I rode my bike regularly.”
Mr Parton himself uses Strava to track his cycling activity, clocking 62.6 km/h an hour on one segment recently. The speed limit for shared paths is 50km/h.
He made the suggestion about tracking cycling speeds during an ACT parliamentary hearing. When the Minister for Transport Meegan 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.
Without doubt, better education about sharing public spaces safely is required for some in the bike community. Every member of society should obey the law and be respectful of other people, regardless of whether they are riding a bike, driving a car, or walking.
On Canberra’s shared-path hierarchy, bikes are at the top. 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. Kudos to Mr Parton for realising that a whole segment of society should not be punished for the actions of a couple of cycling hoons.