In loo (sp?) of a quiz, this Friday I shall engage in some Hard-Hitting News Anal
Sorry, goddman cat stepped on the return key again.
Yesterday, Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland reported that the Oregon Department of Transportation has purchased a bunch of data from masturbatory website and mobile app Strava:
More specifically, the ODOT paid Strava $20,000 for data on 17,700 riders:
Last fall, the agency paid $20,000 for one-year license of a dataset that includes the activities of about 17,700 riders and 400,000 individual bicycle trips totaling 5 million BMT (bicycle miles traveled) logged on Strava in 2013. The Strava bike "traces" are mapped to OpenStreetMap.
I'm relatively certain that this is the highest amount of money ever paid for information on Fredly behavior, especially when you consider that the ODOT probably could have opened a Strava account and gotten it all for free. As a basis for comparison, "Bicycling" will give you their whole subscriber list for nineteen bucks--and that comes with one year of "Bicycling" and a lifetime of subscription renewal harassment!
Anyway, let's take a look at those numbers:
--400,000 individual trips
--5 million delicious and crispy BLTs (bicycle laps toiled)
So what do they mean? Well, first, Strava paid about $1.13 per Fred, which means your little stretchy-clothes existence is about as worthless as you think it is. Second, if 17,700 Freds made 400,000 trips in a year, that means the average Strava Fred is riding his or her bike about 2.26 times a year, which sounds about right.* Third, and perhaps most significant, at 5 million miles ridden, each Strava Fred is riding his or her bike about 283 miles a year. So, if they're doing 283 miles a year but only riding their bike a little more than twice, then each Strava Fred basically does two (2) baronial 100+ mile epics per annum, and then spends the rest of the year wanking or cleaning out the rain gutters or smelling coffee grounds appreciatively or whatever else it is that Oregonian Freds do when they're not riding bicycles.**
*Oops! That should have been 22.6! Decimal points and math are tricky!
**Oops again! The Freds are actually doing like 22 12-mile rides a year, which does seem much more Strava-y...
Now, I'm sure I'm grossly misinterpreting this data, but that's how I prefer to look at it because I think Strava is incredibly dorky and matters such as "truth" are inconsequential to me.
By the way, if you're wondering who put together this little deal, it shouldn't surprise you in the least that the middlemen were the Fredly haberdashers at Rapha:
ODOT Active Transportation Policy Lead Margi Bradway is in charge of the "Strava Bicycle Data Project". The north Portland resident, mother of two and active bicycle racer, says the idea came to her during a bike ride last summer. "It was during the Rapha lunch ride," she shared with us on the phone yesterday. "Everyone was checking Strava and I started to wonder, 'What if we used this data?'" Bradway then turned to Chris Distefano, a veteran of the bike industry who currently works in Rapha's marketing department. He instantly loved the idea and connected Bradway with a manager at Strava.
Reportedly, Rapha's cut of the deal was an undisclosed amount of Strava KOMs.
As for why ODOT even wants this information in the first place, it's because they believe that if they can better understand the migratory behavior of the Oregonian Fred then they can better tailor the infrastructure to cyclists:
The problem for many transportation agencies today is that, while bicycling is on the rise (for both transportation and recreation), there remains a major lack of data. This gap in data makes it much harder to justify bicycle investments, plan for future bicycle traffic growth, illustrate the benefits of bike infrastructure investments, and so on. It also makes non-auto use of roads very easy for agencies to overlook. And while ODOT and many cities do bike counts already, they only measure one location for a short period of time.
Which, as I was pleased to see Jonathan Maus point out, is somewhat problematic, since thank the Lord Jesus Christ the typical Strava user is in no way representative of the typical bicycle user:
And while this dearth of data continues to plague the active transportation field, the proliferation of GPS devices and smartphones, and the popularity of apps like Strava and Portland-based Ride With GPS, are creating a huge and valuable user database. That being said, there is a major drawback to using Strava data: it's not representative of all bicycle users. Not even close. Most Strava users tend to be serious riders on training rides. But as anyone can see on the Strava Global Heat Map, there's still much to be learned by analyzing where Strava users ride.
So are the implications of all this? Is Oregon on the cusp of developing a system of roadways for the Freds and by the Freds? Will other states follow? Only time will tell. All I know at this point is that I'm thanking the Lord Jesus Christ that I don't live in Oregon, because if I found out my tax dollars were going to Strava so they can figure out where all the Freds are riding I'd be extremely pissed off. I mean really, this is a state that can't even de-ice its roads in winter, and they're giving 20 grand to Strava? Do you know how much road salt that could buy?!? (Answer: I have no fucking idea.)
I will say though that the above-referenced "Strava Global Heat Map" is fascinating, and naturally I headed right to my hometown:
It basically told me what I already know, which is that most New York City Freds spend their entire existence doing one of three things: riding circles around Prospect Park; riding circles around Central Park, and riding back and forth to Nyack.
However, I was somewhat surprised to see how many Freds seem to head east along the Long Island Expressway service road. I mean sure, I know about the "Triangle Ride" and all that, but the blue line heading east is almost as thick and juicy as the blue line heading up to Nyack, from which we can conclude that New York City Fred-dom is divided into two tribes: the Western Freds, and the Eastern Freds:
It's fairly obvious to me that the entire metropolitan area will soon be subsumed in an apocalyptic War of the Freds in which the Western Freds and the Eastern Freds battle each other for total domination, and that Strava is currently salivating at the prospect of a seven-figure payout from the New York City Department of Transportation.
Most of all though I was pleased to see very little Strava activities on my favorite little climbs and routes, where there was a mere dusting of blue. I can live with that. Sure, nobody likes to come across the odd mouse dropping, but it's certainly better than a full-on infestation.
In other (literally) hard-hitting news, a commenter on yesterday's post furnished a link to this story about how helments don't really do all that much for kids:
Putting aside the debate over whether helmets are truly necessary in all of these situations, there’s something about helmets that you might not know: They won’t protect your kids from common head injuries that may cause long-term problems.
In other words, helments are pretty good at saving your five year-old's life when he lays down his Suzuki GSX-R750 at 95mph, but they probably don't matter that much when he takes a spill on his Razor scooter.
Oh, and in a revelation that will stun most Americans, helments actually can't do your parenting for you!
Also, don’t assume that if your kid wears a helmet, his head is going to be safe. You’ve got to use common sense too. As Nicholas Day pointed out in a 2011 Slate article on why he won’t make his kids wear sledding helmets, head injuries are to some extent avoidable with good parental decision-making. “What's called for are more common-sense instructions from parents to their kids, not another layer of padding,” he writes. Don’t let your kid sled near trees or roads or tons of other people. Don’t let your kid bike or use a scooter or skateboard in busy traffic. Speak up if your kids’ coaches are making them do risky practice drills that involve head collisions, or if they are allowed to head the ball when they play soccer: the American Youth Soccer Organization encourages coaches to not teach or practice heading to kids under the age of 10. Finally, if your kids play sports in which head injuries are common—these include football, soccer, hockey, rugby and basketball—you might put them on a neck strengthening regimen, because “to the extent that you can see a hit coming and you can tense the neck muscles, the head is not going to be moved out of position as much,” Cantu says.
Good advice, but unfortunately Americans will continue to rely on their SUVs to do their parenting for them until they're explicitly told otherwise.
NO HELMENT SHE'S GOING TO DIE!!!