Go ahead and gamify my commute, Strava

Could the commuter cup become meaningful?

The whole premise of Strava, originally, was that cyclists of all levels like to compare themselves to other cyclists and, occasionally, to compete without the need to pin a number on. It gamifies everyday rides, which is fun and motivating for many. But it leaves out a huge swath of riders, too.

You may have noticed that Strava recently began reporting a Carbon Saved metric for cycling activities logged as a “Commute.” It gives you an estimated CO2 saved for that particular ride.

According to Strava, the calculation is based on this 2021 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report. Strava points out that there are a lot of variables to consider for an accurate Carbon Saved figure. The estimation serves as a guideline to the positive impact made when choosing to go by bike.

Motivation is a funny thing. It comes from strange places. Most of us don’t commute by bike to compete; we commute by bike because we have places to get to and it’s more enjoyable, and often easier, to get there on two wheels. A little competition can be motivational even in areas where we haven’t traditionally competed.

Traditionally, Strava hasn’t had a lot to offer for people who commute or run errands by bike. Once you’ve nailed the best route to/from your destination Strava essentially becomes a distance logging tool.

Strava’s more prominent and long-standing features are less meaningful for the commuter. Segment leaderboards, monthly challenges, and goal-setting are all targeted at performance-oriented riding.

The addition of the Carbon Saved metric opens the door to a new measure of achievement, arguably more meaningful. Strava can appeal to a broader audience by shining a light on the benefits and necessity of commuting by bike. But the Carbon Saved metric hints at even greater potential.

Strava has a bunch of existing features that could expand to provide greater incentives and engagement for commuters. If you’re anything like me, you may already be too closely wrapped up in your Strava goals. Here are a few ways Strava could achieve the same for Commuters:

With additions like this, Strava could really lean into the benefits of commuting by bike. It’s not difficult to imagine a company setting up a challenge for employees based on saving Carbon on the commute to work. It’s like a step challenge but with bikes. 

I used to keep my commutes private on my Strava feed at risk of overwhelming my followers’ timelines with such repetitive rides. Cyclists should be proud of their choice to commute by bike and Strava has demonstrated that they have the means to shine the right light.

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