John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Using GPS technology implanted in shoes, artists envision the paths that runners love to tackle.
If you live in New York yet somehow value jogging in private, try heading to Bed-Stuy or Alphabet City. These 'hoods are virtually untrodden by the high-priced soles of runners, according to this dandy model that tracks jogging behavior.
Created by the techno-art dream team of Zach Lieberman, Emily Gobeille and Theo Watson, the visualization shows the most heavily trafficked routes for runners in the Manhattan-Brooklyn-Queens triangle (as well as Hoboken, if you must know where Daniel Pinkwater is sweating). In no surprise at all, the most popular paths are areas with water vistas or green spaces: Central Park, the shores of the Hudson and East River, the jagged series of docks jutting out from west Williamsburg. As the thick white lines spanning the black water demonstrate, New Yorkers also love padding across bridges – perhaps because some of them see bridges as the "mountains" of urban geography.
The artists assembled this luminous map by gathering anonymous geodata from joggers wearing Nike+ GPS implants in their shoes. (Yes, some people find them uncomfortable.) They collected a year's worth of data, representing tens of thousands of runs, and displayed the results at a Nike store last year. You can see that animation below, as well as similar maps for Tokyo and London.
The main "Nike City Runs" site appears to be hacked to oblivion – click at your own risk if you really need generic prostate medication (and who doesn't?) – but Visual Complexity has a good project rundown. The artists say their historical models are "remarkably promising" to the future of wired-in jogging, although I'm not exactly sure how. Perhaps city managers could use this data for targeted maintenance work on high-traffic routes?