Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
The developers of Human have complied user data into stunning visualizations that show how and where we get around.
An app designed to encourage exercise can also tell us a lot about the way different cities get from point A to B.
The app, called Human, runs in the background of your iPhone, automatically detecting activities like walking, cycling, running, and motorized transport. The point is to encourage you to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
Almost a year since Human launched (last August), its developers have released stunning visualization of all that movement: 7.5 million miles traveled by their app users so far.
On their site, you can look into the mobility data inside 30 different cities. Once you click on one, you'll be greeted with a pie chart that shows the distribution of activity within that city lined up against a pie chart that shows the international average.
In the case of Amsterdam, its transportation clichés are verified. App users in the bike-loving city use two wheels way more than they use four. And they walk about as much as anywhere else:
Human then shows the paths traveled by their users. When it comes to Amsterdam, the results look almost exactly like the city's entire street grid, no matter what physical activity is being shown:
As for Houston, a city quite the opposite of Amsterdam in many ways, the results look quite different. As you'd expect, Houstonians love their cars and don't walk much:
When translated to exact paths, the results end up making Houston look like four different cities depending on which type of movement is being visualized. Only when the driving paths are shown does the data resemble the Houston we know from an aerial map:
The city-by-city results are perhaps most fascinating when viewed as a video. Displaying minute-by-minute data from each location, Human shows how the volume of movement around different parts of each place changes throughout the day: