I recently got the opportunity to plan several rides in an area I’ve never cycled before. So, I thought why not try out Strava’s routing feature… Yes, I know it’s been available for ages, but in a location I’m familiar with, it, and frankly every other cycling routing app, just doesn’t do what I want it to. What made this different, was that I just wanted a few X mile rides that didn’t suck. And, as you probably guessed from the title, Strava totally nailed the “didn’t suck” target.
Where they let me down, and again to be fair, ALL ROUTING APPS LET ME DOWN, is around using parameters to filter road types. But, all the other apps get something of a pass, because data. No one has the depth of data richness that Strava has. They could do so, so, so much better.
Seeing as Strava routing is a “premium” feature, and they are really struggling to provide value around “premium” as they
pull the rug pivot to subscription. I figured it would be useful to share some ideas with them around how they could make routing more useful to me, hopefully other riders, and maybe get me to re-up my subscription come December.
- Let me filter on road type: This is actually something that other routing apps could do as well, and it drives me crazy that they don’t. 90% of the time, I don’t want to ride on cycleways (aka bike paths). When the weather is nice, they are usually littered with dog walkers, inattentive runners, three(or four)-abreast casual cyclists practicing their serpentine maneuvers, etc. To be clear, I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, it’s great that they’re out in the wild, moving, getting exercise. I just don’t want to have to ride in the same space as all of that. It’s not safe for me, and it’s not fun for them. So I would rather just ride on the road. Strava, like many other services, uses OpenStreetMap as its source for mapping, which has data around road type. Strava already filters on paved/dirt, it would be great if I could exclude cycleways as well. This is a gimme that applies to every routing tool I’ve played with. They should all do this.
- Personalized routes: Strava builds its routes based on crowd sourced data, or put another way, our rides. This data + very specific knowledge around the type of rider puts them in a unique position to provide all sorts of detailed filters around the type of cyclist I want to model my ride around. Right now, it’s everyone, which includes anyone from Sunday cruisers to racers. While they all fit into the broad “cyclist” category, it’s ludicrous to assume that we all want our routes to be the same. Build me a route around the type of rider/rides that either match my riding profile automatically (which should be easy for Strava’s big data crunchers), or better yet, let me choose the type of rider (e.g. rides greater than 20 miles @ 3+W/kg) I want to model around per ride. Whether I’m looking for an easy recovery day spin, or a VO2Max climbing interval, give me the options. The data is there. Let me use it.
- POI: Tell me where the coffee stops are. Tell me where the beer stops are. Strava knows where we stop, should be easy to figure out if a business is located there, what type of business it is, and extrapolate from there. This would also be incredibly useful to know where the common meet-up points are, you know to make it easy to find riding groups in an unknown area. When we get back to riding in groups, again…