Strava Heat Maps

Dave Windle

From the Strava website, showing actual lines taken over Cairngorm Plateau

Mike Duguid has shown us how to use information collected from Strava to see how mountain biking is growing and how this might be impacting sensitive areas. Below, I set out a letter that I wrote to the CNPA on the subject of mountain biking on the sensitive Cairngorm plateau.

Dear Grant, Andy,

I attach a Strava heatmap showing the amount of people using mountain bikes on the Cairngorm plateau over the last two years. The data comes from Strava records, taken from people logged into the system. Importantly, the data will be an underestimate, because there will be mountain bikers who arenít using Strava. This already shows a lot of mountain biking on the very sensitive high plateau and can be expected to get worse as mountain biking continues to grow in popularity, and as more people buy electric bikes. Does the CNPA monitor biking activity on this sensitive area? If not, should you start doing so?

We, in NEMT, suggest that the Authority needs to start thinking about ways of discouraging mountain biking on the plateau before irreversible ecological damage is done. The plateau is widely acknowledged as a very sensitive habitat and very easily damaged. Should the Authority be modifying existing notices reminding people how sensitive the high plateau is and asking them not to cycle there? Furthermore, the CNPA could be contacting MTB websites which appear to encourage such routes and asking them to respect the sensitivity of the high plateau, while encouraging them to use other areas of the park responsibly. We understand that Trailforks responded positively to a request to take down mountain biking routes that were seen as possibly disturbing capercaillie.

This might form the basis for an undergraduate intern project, looking at existing monitoring and looking at ways to improve this.

We believe that early action might prevent serious degradation on the plateau.


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