Frequently Asked Questions
About Metro
September 23, 2020
How is Strava Metro data used?

Strava Metro partners with public agencies of all sizes such as Departments of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, counties and cities to improve infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians. Hundreds of public agencies around the world use Strava Metro to evaluate and improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Strava Metro provides data on patterns of people moving in your region to provide impactful, data-driven decisions, whether planning and building new infrastructure or measuring impact and behavior change after a project is complete.

How does Strava Metro respect the privacy of Strava members?

The data provided through the Strava Metro platform has been aggregated and deidentified, consistent with the European Union’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The Strava Metro dataset excludes all activities that have made private by our members, and activities from members who have requested to have their accounts deleted.

Can I use the public Strava heatmap to compare how many people are active in one particular place compared to another?

No. The heatmap is normalized to improve the legibility of the visualization, so techniques such as raster depth analysis will not produce reliable results. Learn more about how the heatmap is made.

The Metro product
September 23, 2020
Strava as a representative sample of the overall population

Not everyone tracks their activities on Strava. How do I know that Metro data is representative of the overall population?

As with any mobility data source, Metro data does not cover the entire population. However, since we launched the service in 2014 we have worked extensively with partners and research institutions on ways to use and adjust Metro data to create a representative sample that enables powerful analyses of the overall population.

First,  several independent academic studies have analyzed the relationship between Metro data and data recorded by electronic or human bike counters and found robust correlations between the two . This shows that Strava members’ travel patterns are representative of the overall population and also means that Metro partners who have collected additional count data from even a small number of fixed locations have the opportunity to combine the two data sources, generate adjustment factors, and produce very robust insights about the entire network.

Second, we find that route choice by Strava members bears a close relationship to what we might expect from the overall population. As a result, the infrastructure needs and opportunities that one might infer from Metro data are consistent with the overall population of an area.  Read more about a route choice analysis we performed in Santa Clara, CA . Another analysis conducted in  New Hampshire  showed that Strava users will generally chose streets with bicycle infrastructure when available. Metro’s web platform enables you to uncover actionable insights about your network, such as ranking the most popular corridors, comparing route choices by distance and elevation, and identifying desire lines.

Third, with more than 60 million members around the world, the Strava community includes people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. In the UK, for example, one in seven adults is a Strava member. You can get a sense of the reach of our community by checking out the  Strava Global Heatmap

Commuting vs athletic activity

I thought Strava was focused on athletic activity. Do you have data on commuting patterns?

Yes. While Strava is a home for millions of people’s athletic activities, it is also a home for commute trips. In fact, we’re seeing significant growth in the tracking of commutes among our community, and in most cities commutes are the majority of activities recorded on Strava.  Read more about the rise of commuting on Strava .

We recently ran  a commuting challenge  to encourage members to adopt sustainable commuting modes.

Commuting on Strava

Does an activity have to be tagged as a commute to be included in the Metro dataset? How do you know what a commute is?

No. Metro is based on all non-private activities. We have developed a model to detect and identify commutes, which uses the commute tag used by Strava members as a ground truth. In our model, “commuting” refers to all non-leisure trips.

As a result, it is not necessary for a Strava member to mark their activity as a commute in the app in order for it to be included in commuting analyses on the Metro platform. However, it is of course very helpful that many Strava members do mark their activities as commutes, and we hope to make the commuting experience on Strava more rewarding and exciting in the future.

Will I see equal representation across gender and age in the Strava data?

Unfortunately not in many places in the world, since Strava reflects broad trends in the overall population. For example,  research suggests that in the United States, women take around one quarter of the bike trips  despite taking around half of trips by all modes.  Similar research in the UK has found that women are about half as likely to cycle as men This is a serious problem , and one that we’re working with our partners to help address by making the case for safer infrastructure that serves everyone.

How is Strava Metro data different from bike counters?

Unlike temporary or permanent counters, Strava Metro data is not tied to a single location. Strava Metro helps to paint a picture of how people ride and run throughout your entire network of streets and how that behavior changes at certain times of year, days of week, times of day or after infrastructure is built. The data shows walk and bike trips in all locations over time, not just at a single location. Many organizations have found Strava Metro data to be the most powerful at capturing all trips when combined with continuous counters to estimate total biking. In all known correlation studies with Strava Metro data and counters, Strava users have a positive correlation with people recorded with passive count technology.  Learn more about counter correlation here.

Location-based services (LBS data) and how it compares to Metro

Does Metro data include location data collected from cell phones through other means than recording on Strava?

No. We have decided as a team to not work with passively collected data such as cell phone data because we do not believe it meets reasonable standards of user consent and therefore would be inconsistent with our approach to individual privacy.

The folks’ whose data is included in those LBS datasets have not consented to their data being used for this purpose and it has likely been resold (potentially several times). Strava does not passively collect location data, and we believe our data is inherently more reliable because it has been authentically collected from members who are aware of Metro, are excited to contribute to better infrastructure, and have the opportunity to opt out at any time.

There have already been  numerous calls for better regulation of location data  and we believe that legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act will become more commonplace, making the use of this data by public agencies more challenging in the future.

Can anyone be part of the Strava Metro dataset?

Anyone using Strava to track their rides, runs and other GPS tracked fitness activities is contributing to the Strava Metro dataset. Strava Metro does not include activity that has been made private. It’s a way for our members to vote with their ride or run for better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in your community.  Click here  to sign up for Strava.

Working with Metro
September 23, 2020
Does Strava Metro require GIS software?

Strava Metro requires no GIS expertise to access and use.

However, you may export and download shapefile and other GIS file types from Metro for use in GIS tools.

How is the dashboard boundary (Area of Interest) determined?

During the application process, you’ll be able to select your area of interest by selecting your country, state, and county through the dropdown lists. The county boundaries are based on boundaries available in Open Street Map and have been pre-built into our system. At this time, county is the most granular administrative level we are able to provide, and we’re unable to provide changes or edits to these boundaries. But stay tuned for some exciting updates about custom boundary creation!

Can I see a demo of Metro?

Yes! Go to  metro.strava.com/demo  to explore our Web platform with some representative data from Denver, Colorado. The data is a sample derived from real Strava activities but is not a complete dataset. Please do not cite or attempt to use the data for planning purposes.

Please note that data download functionality is not available in the demo.

I am part of an advocacy group. How can I spread the word about Strava Metro?

Tell your community leaders and city planning colleagues about Strava Metro. We have successfully partnered with several advocacy organizations to jointly approach the planning staff and elected officials in their area in presenting how to best use Strava Metro.

Do you partner with companies that aren't working to improve conditions for active transportation?

To ensure that we deliver positive impact for Strava members and the wider community, we only work with organizations that plan, own or maintain infrastructure or seek to positively influence planning processes. For example, we do not partner with organizations such as real estate investors, financial services companies or retailers.