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.
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’.
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
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.
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?