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Can you get ticketed based on your Strava activity?

No, but you can withhold kudos

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Most runners are doing a great job practising social distancing. They’re running on a treadmill or alone, and getting their miles done on paths less travelled. Thank you for doing your little part. On the other side of that coin are the few folks who continue to run or ride in groups of people they don’t live with. Because of the second group, some rule-abiding runners are asking if there’s a possibility for police to serve them with tickets based on their Strava data. While we’re all for encouraging rule following, Sergeant Scott Moore of the Hamilton Police says ticketing based on a Strava activity is extremely unlikely (read: it’ll never happen).

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Moore explains that there would be many issues with this practice–so many issues that it ultimately wouldn’t be considered an effective use of time. “There are a lot of problems with a police officer going back and laying charges based on this data. You would have to prove the source and the identity. This could be a starting point, but it’s not usable data on its own.”

Moore is a cyclist and Strava user himself. He’s conscious that he puts out a lot of data when using the app, but also feels that his activities are safe and within the current guidelines.

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As a police officer and member of the public, I’m being safe. I still commute to work on my bike, but I don’t go on group rides any more. All we want is for people to be smart.”

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Moore also says that social media has led to a lot of fear and misinformation surrounding new social distancing by-laws. “I think we have more pressing matters to deal with. We’re not here to monitor where someone’s running and who someone’s running with. Social media has caused a lot of fear in how the police are going to be enforcing these new laws. There’s a lot of misinformation. We are encouraging everyone to keep a distance but there’s some realities that we have to accept. I just don’t believe that there’s going to come a time that we will data-mine Strava.”

Do your part

While it seems runners and cyclists are in the clear when it comes to tickets based on social media, it’s still important to do the right thing–even without immediate consequences. Only run or ride with folks that you live with, exercise during off hours (or in unorthodox locations) and ditch the really hard workouts.

Another way you can do your part? Withhold the kudos. Steal segments. That’ll teach them.

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