John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
What patterns emerge when you plot 75,000 rides in the nation's largest bike-share program?
Someone in New York City hops on a Citi Bike; within minutes they could be blocks away in any random direction. But pile thousands of such rides together, and patterns in the country's largest bike-sharing system leap out.
That much is evident in an entrancing visualization of Citi Bike usage over two fair-weather days last September. Created by Jeff Ferzoco and the folks at the Rudin Center for Transportation and the Spatial Information Design Lab, the model shows roughly 75,000 rides from station of pick-up to drop-off. (They're displayed as point-to-point journeys; the street grid perhaps will enter the equation in the next version.) The rides are helpfully color-coded to show the types of Citi Bike riders, with blue for annual members and yellow for casual ones.
The action begins at midnight with bike trips slowing down to a trickle in the predawn hours; still, there never seems to be a period when someone isn't pedaling somewhere in New York. Things pick up again in a huge way as morning breaks and commuters rush to get to transit hubs like Port Authority and Penn Station. And then it's just madness, with dense thickets of crisscrossing lines entangling the city, some of which may or may not relate to subway delays marked in red boxes.
Over at Linepointpath, Ferzoco posts a list of "points to watch" in the bicycle scramble:
> Port Authority, Grand Central and Penn Station rushes at 6am
> Post-work leisure rides
> Transit delays throughout the day (taken from MTA's feed)
> Heavy annual member use in Brooklyn
> Tourist rides on Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge
> Stations along the FDR during morning commute
> Long trips from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side
> Casual users surging in mid afternoons
> Riding pairs throughout, but especially noticeable in the afternoons and right after midnight
> Heavy post-midnight travel in Brooklyn
Have a look: