A cyclist riding on a Washington, D.C. bike path was assaulted by a fellow rider on a Sunday afternoon. The only information about the suspect the police had was that he was wearing a racing helmet with a bike sporting aero bars.
The victim crashed and was seriously injured being treated in an area hospital. The suspect rode away but police were subsequently able to identify him thanks to Strava, the riders equipment a giveaway that he may be using the popular fitness tracking app.
The rider who was injured was allegedly attempting to pass two other riders when a cyclist riding in the opposite direction reached his arm out and struck the victim in the helmet, causing him to crash. The suspect did not stop but with the exact time and location of the assault, police were able to turn to Strava during their investigation.
Strava’s Flyby function allows users to see other riders positions out on the road. It’s a useful tool to analyze races or figure out who you passed out on the road or whether you just missed someone. Many riders publicize their Strava data allowing the police to publically access the information without the need of the fitness apps cooperation.
In this case, with information about the location and time of the incident along with witness testimony, police were able to drastically narrow down their search. The investigation led to the arrest of 48-year-old Edward A. Shortnacy of Vienna, Virginia. Shortnacy was charged with malicious wounding after turning himself into authorities.