GPS Scrambler Devices Cause Strava Tracking Chaos

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It has been revealed that ‘Strava Scramblers’ are being deployed by local authorities in an attempt to reduce conflict around popular ride spots. On both road and trail segments, it is understood that by interrupting the GPS signal, phones and cycle computers are unable to record a rider’s progress, rendering the ‘racing’ of segments pointless.

Local riders angry

With popular trails often being shared with other users, it’s easy to see why haring down a trail on a mountain bike might be considered an antisocial activity. For road segments, while descending at high speed might well be dangerous to other users, deploying these devices on climbs seems to be a simple act of trying to reduce the numbers of riders using the road.

Not happy…

Speaking from the top of Box Hill, we spoke to Tristan, who said:

‘I’m disgusted that I’m being discouraged from using roads that I pay for. I’ve been coming out here with my club, the Anglian Pedal Republic 1st Squadron for 2 years now, it’s part of our heritage. We come here at least once a month to test our form, and the annual celebration of who leads the segment at the end of the year is an important date in our club calendar. We’re being robbed of our traditions’.

Box Hill
Box Hill, the Alpe d’Huez of London.

While many councils were reluctant to speak to us about their use of the devices, Head of Road Safety at Huntingdon and Peterborough Council, Bill Stoppard, was open about the Council’s motives:

‘We use speed cameras to catch speeding cars, but until cyclists are properly registered and required to carry a licence plate, catching unruly cyclists is a very difficult task. These devices should help remove the incentive for irresponsible racing. We’ve had real problems on the climbs and descents around Elton and Warmington. Cyclists come here looking to ‘challenge’ themselves, but really, they’re just getting in the way of the growth of our local economy. We have to make sure that visitors can get to and from nearby Stilton. Cheese is the future of jobs in our area, not cycling. These devices are solar powered, so require very little input from us once we’ve deployed them. It’s a cost effective solution and in this day and age of tightened budgets, we’re happy to be able to help our local community stay safe.’

Low Cost Strava Scramber Devices

strava scrambler disrupter device singletrack
An eagle eyed Singletrack reader spotted one device high up in the branches on his local trail

It’s understood that councils are using a more advanced form of the device, however a low cost option has also been spotted online and it is thought locals in places such as Innerleithen and the Hope Valley may be using these to discourage the use of popular off road descents. While this is certainly preferable to other forms of trail sabotage, concerns have been expressed that the devices may lead to problems locating riders who need emergency assistance.

strava scrambler disrupter device singletrack magazine april fool
The device’s internal batteries are topped up by an inbuilt solar panel

Technologies have been developed that make use of a phone’s GPS signal in order to help rescue services locate injured riders – it’s easy to see that a ‘Strava Scrambler’ strapped to a tree could hamper such efforts.

But perhaps we’re missing a potential positive here? Could these devices help see a return to ‘secret trails’? If riders can’t record the whereabouts of the trail, pirate builders can hope to keep their creations quiet and private a little longer.

What do you think? Are these devices going to take the fun out of riding, or see a return to simpler times?

Hannah Dobson

Hannah came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. Having worked in policy and project management roles at the Scottish Parliament and in local government, Hannah had organisational skills that SIngletrack needed. She also likes bikes, and likes to write.

Hannah likes all bikes, but especially unusual ones. If it’s a bit odd, or a bit niche, or made of metal, she’s probably going to get excited. If it gets her down some steep stuff, all the better. She’ll give most things a go once, she tries not to say no to anything on a bike, unless she really thinks it’s going to hurt. She’s pretty good with steri-strips.

More than bikes, Hannah likes what bikes do. She thinks that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments.

Hannah tries to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

Comments (20)

    What i’m taking away from this is Huntingdon & Peterboroughs council’s incredibly negative attitude towards cycling 🙁

    Oh, its the 1st of April…:-)

    good idea though.

    Buy your own version of the device above. Also apparently good for repelling animals from your garden.

    You utter, utter…

    Hook, line, sinker.

    Mmmm riding Box Hill for two years and now his clubs “tradition” has been ruined??
    I use a similar GPS blocker to keep cats off my garden!

    Sods, had me for a moment!

    no problem with this, I’m really delighted strava has opened up all segments to any vehicle.
    I’ll be taking my ford fiesta XR2III for a spin up holme moss this Arvo..

    That’s funny, I live in Elton and I don’t see a problem. In fact I don’t even see a bike on the only “climb” we have.

    shame its the 1st of April cause that would be hilarious if they actually did that.

    Got as far as Stilton before it twigged….

    The give-away for me was “Anglian Pedal Republic 1st” – I habitually “acronymise” such things, and look what you get…

    Ha-ha Hannah, hilarious. But how long before the authorities automatically send out speeding ticket and anti-social behaviour fines based on our Strava profiles?
    Don’t give him your name Pike…

    First time in 48 years I’ve been fooled by an April 1 news item. Fair play………

    You has me going, you tinkers. Nice one.

    Funny! A dyslexic 14 to you too.

    You got me and it’s 2nd April now – the future is cheese

    Glad my years in local government weren’t wasted. Glad to have got a few of you! But, cheese IS the future.

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