People Use Citi Bike!

The New Yorker recently published the results of an analysis of the first month of Citi Bike use. Along with a handful of bulleted insights, the team has designed an interactive data visualizer that offers users a view of program use patterns in real-time.

Click through to launch full interactive Citi Bike map:



Why I’m Curious?

While not entirely surprising that the most discernible use pattern is commute-related, it is somewhat surprising how quickly this pattern emerged – Within three weeks of launch (fast-forward to 6/24), the program had been adopted and embraced to the extent that the pattern is observable like clockwork.

A few more of the team’s insights:

  • Temperatures and precipitation also influence bike use, so the map displays weather information alongside bike movement. For instance, the weaker commuting pattern on Thursday, June 13th, can be attributed, in part, to colder temperatures and over an inch of rain.
  • It’s possible that the Citi Bike system may be too successful for its own good. As the program becomes a more popular method of commuting, the workday leaves some areas bereft of bikes, making it more difficult for those with reverse or off-hour commutes to participate in the program. Citi Bike crews do redistribute the bikes, but the empty areas on the map show how challenging it is to balance their availability across the stations.
  • On weekends, the commutes are replaced by patternless, recreational movement, in which bikers meander around the city. The continuous weekend use also results in more over-all activity than Citi Bikes see on weekdays. Greg Estren, who compiles data on Citi Bike, calculated that over the six-week period from June 8th through July 19th, there was ten per cent more station activity on weekends than on weekdays.
  • July Fourth was a bikers’ holiday. As the night grew dark, Citi Bike members pedalled to the Hudson River to see the fireworks.

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