The family of a San Francisco cyclist killed in the summer of 2010 when he crashed into a car on his bike has sued Strava for negligence. William “Kim” Flint was allegedly trying to break a descent record on South Park Drive in the hills east of Berkeley, California when the tragic incident ended his life. Flint raced down the road in Grizzly Peak after learning someone else on the Strava had clocked a better time on the segment.
A few weeks ago I joked about “Strava Leaderboard Strategies” after beginning to receive emails about my own KOM’s being broken. It certainly does encourage competitive behaviour, but this is the core to the success of Strava. However, days after Flint was killed in 2010 Strava acted responsibly and took steps to flag hazardous segments if it was believed that it was unsafe. Is self-policing good enough or should Strava implement more stringent mechanisms which don’t allow competition on descents to take place on its plantform? How far should Strava’s responsibility extend?
I’ve been reading through the forums and one point that came up was that Strava has in essence created an unregulated, non-rule based competition. All the danger of a bike race, but none of the precautions. Susan Kang, the Flint family’s attorney, says this issue is with Strava’s lack of accountability. “They assume no responsibility. They don’t put cones out. They don’t have anybody monitor and see whether a course, or a specific segment, is dangerous.”
Kang agrees that Flint is responsible for his actions, but she also states that Strava needs to do more to prevent similar accidents. “Is it 100 percent Strava’s fault? No, of course not,” Kang said to ABC. “Do they have a responsibility to the public to encourage safety and take down the more dangerous routes from their website? We think so.”
Strava spokesperson Mark Riedy issued a statement saying, “The death of Kim Flint was a tragic accident, and we expressed our sincere condolences when it occurred in 2010. Based on the facts involved in the accident and the law, there is no merit to this lawsuit.” However, it does go to show how reckless people can be when in the heat of “competition”.
You can read the suit filed against Strava here (pdf).