Will Strava have to delete segments where speed limits are routinely exceeded?


Will Strava have to delete segments where speed limits are routinely exceeded?

More: Cycling Time Trials UK

Whilst cyclists typically do not face the same legal obligations to obey (motorised) speed limits, public pressure is highly likely to lead to restrictions on cyclists’ speeds soon. I’ll cover the recent changes (2024) that have been made to Cycling Time Trials (CTT) in the UK that will severely hinder the sport, then proceed to the logical conclusions and their impact on Strava.


CTT’s latest guidance for UK Time Trials is that riders have to stick to 20mph speed limits both for safety reasons and to avoid the inevitable public outrage. Failure to do so could lead to disqualification or time penalties.

Furthermore, it seems that existing courses already containing more than two 100m sections limited to 20mph will have to be stopped or changed.

Basic Solutions & Workaround

Incorporating extra marshalls to enforce compliance or timing mats that create non-compete zones sounds all well and good but UK time trials are small-scale affairs, often with only a few 10s of riders, and simply lack the resources for many more marshalls or extra tech.

There are no good solutions in many parts of the country and a recent article in road.cc suggested that time-trialling in Wales could effectively end this year.

Many clubs have a 10-mile time trial route and many of them are impacted by the new rules

Strava – CTT is just the tip of the iceberg

At some point, Mr Angry of Cheltenham is going to discover Strava and the fact that it effectively encourages cyclists to ‘speed’ at over 30mph on very many sections of UK roads. Mr Angry will point out that this is effectively racing. Which it is.

Mr Angry already has a few buddies working for the Daily Mail and this would be a half-decent story that could even morph into that rag’s latest nationwide campaign. ie a campaign to force strava to either stop recording times/speeds over 30 mph or simply to delete those segments.

Perhaps Strava’s solution here is to delete a fair few segments, say, with fast downhills and then also introduce a minimum segment length which will necessarily restrict the display of people averaging over 30mph.

Whilst something like that might be a reasonable solution it won’t be enough. Once the public is more widely aware of this issue, the likes of The Daily Mail and Mr Angry won’t stop.

I would imagine that someone at Strava already has the makings of a plan to mitigate this as, if this ever happens, it could severely dent Strava’s business model in the UK. Speed limits would specifically attack Strava’s key feature…segments. And the UK is one of its important sources of subscription revenues.


My Take

I usually take part in at least one and sometimes up to three or four UK time trials each year, including a closed-road one. Lucky for me, I also have my own 10-mile time trial route that I think is safe and doesn’t currently have any 20mph speed limits on it.  Overall, I don’t think these new rules will affect me too much.

Most of the Strava segments that I’m interested in are long undulating routes or (up)hills and are usually on 30mph roads in any case. Again, I won’t be greatly affected but I know many other cyclists will be more impacted because they favour different routes and climbs to mine.

Being in London, I’ve seen the introduction of lots of new 20mph zones including in the Borough of Richmond, where I live. In my opinion, 20mph speed limits have improved the quality of life in my local area and probably road safety too. Even as a keen cyclist and driver, these are a good thing on balance.

I think Cycling Time Trials is right to bring in this guidance. They can’t advise people to break the law or what most people consider to be the legal speed limit.

This change to CTT is severe but will probably only directly impact a few thousand time-trial cyclists. But if Strava also had to make adjustments based on the speed limits, it could affect tens of thousands more, and possibly even cyclists outside of the UK too. So this could be big news for Strava-corporate.

However, as we all know, most laws aren’t enforced. So who knows if anything will really change in practice?


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4 thoughts on “Will Strava have to delete segments where speed limits are routinely exceeded?

  1. to me, this is somewhat missing the point. if a section of road has a 20mph limit then there must be good reason for this so nobody should be exceeding that. its just not an appropriate place for fast riding, letalone racing.

    the problem is that all around the world, the combination of more cars and more population density leads to constraints on the road which mean it is often not possible to have a safe race course. whereas authorities spend millions on facilities for other sports, road cycling is being left with nothing.

    1. I think it depends on the point trying to be made as to whether or not it’s missed!!

      A bike hitting you at 30mph will not have the same impact as a motor vehicle impact at 30mph. #Physics

      that’s why, on UK motorways lorries obey a reduced speed limit. (more inertia)

      If you commit a motor vehicle offence then an aggravating factor is the kind of vehicle you are driving (other things equal) eg a mini vs a ferrari vs a lorry will attract different sentences.

      Bikes are not motorised and typically not subject to the laws designed for motor vehicles.

      Putting that aside the general public do not recognise that and would be up in arms at organised events effectively encouraging bikes to ‘break’ the perceived ‘speed limit’. Cyclists would simply get a bad press by a large and motivated group of motorists who are adamant that they have a right to the road because they pay their Road Tax and cyclists do not – the UK has no road tax but they still think they pay it! I own a few cars and have often wondered therefore it that gives me more right to use the road on my bike than those people…just a mischevious thought that I’ve not yet dared to try out on others 😉

  2. I enjoy time trials on private cycle circuits. No getting stuck behind cars, no need to wait at junctions. We’re fortunate there are several in London but i’m sure some areas aren’t quite as lucky with access to closed private roads.

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