Strava Flyby: Useful Social Tool or Risk to Vulnerable Cyclists?

New feature is great fun to use, but could it put riders at risk?

We do love a bit of Strava – it’s great for mile logging, watching your weekly and monthly totals creep up and your personal best segment times drop.

However, it is important to remember that it’s still a public forum, as one reader was reminded quite suddenly on a recent ride home.

Maria emailed us after a disconcerting meeting, saying:

I had a guy on my ride home from work speak to me by name and [he] knew all about me – turns out it was from the ‘Flybys’ on Strava… I didn’t notice the feature until this guy spoke to me! I think it is something other women should know about.

5 Strava Tools you Need to Start Using

What is Strava Flybys?

Strava Flybys allows you to see your ride, plus the ride of anyone else you rode with, or who crossed your path. So even if you were on the same road for just a couple of minutes, you can then view where the other rider scooted off to.

As below, my own ride is in red, and anyone who I passed that was not on my own route has their own squiggle in blue, purple or pink.

I can also see how I progressed alongside those on the same route – where I passed people, and where they passed me. If I wanted I could select particular individuals to watch via the tick box on the left hand side. This is pretty handy if you’re watching back a road race and want to see where you need to improve!

All of this is great among friends, but I’m not sure I love the idea of an unknown rider seeing my entire route, full name, and what I called the ride.

What do Strava say?

We asked the guys at Strava for some more information on the feature. Gareth Nettleton, one of the directors at Strava told us: “Like with a lot of our product developments, Flybys is a result of listening to athlete feedback. Athletes wanted to see who was out riding and running with them and also have the ability to see how certain rides and races unfolded.

“You can see this in action by looking at the Amgen Tour of California story, powered by Flybys. You can replay every stage from 2006 right up to the 2015 race.”

However, opting in means anybody can see your activity. This does open up questions of privacy.

As Gareth explained: “Strava is fundamentally an open platform where athletes connect with a global community. However, the privacy of our athletes is very important to us, and we’ve taken measures to enable athletes to manage their privacy in simple ways.”

He added: “We make it easy for athletes to manage their Privacy Settings within their account settings… For Flybys, athletes can specifically opt-out of being part of Flybys features by selecting the appropriate option under their privacy settings area. ​If they do this their activity is not included in any Flyby replays.​”

Not sure how to manage your privacy settings?

We’re here to help.

1) Start here:

2) On the left hand side, select ‘Privacy Settings’.

3) There is a specific box dedicated to opting out of Strava Flybys – click ‘nobody’ and you’ll no longer appear on the app:

4) There are other options – too. If you want a private profile, so that no one can see your rides unless you add them as a friend, you can choose to turn the ‘enhanced privacy mode’ on:

5) The absolutely crucial one to set up is your ‘privacy zone’ – this hides any part of your ride within a 1 mile radius of your home or office – eg where your bike(s) is/are stored. Simply tap in the postcode, and hit ‘create privacy zone’:

Will you be turning off Strava Flybys, or leaving it running?


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