I love biking and mapping, so any chance to play with geo-spatial bike data usually results in a new little bike-data-mapping application. My latest analytical tool was made using Capital Bikeshare‘s data for the Washington, DC region. The CaBi Trip Visualizer uses the data from 2012’s 3rd quarter (the most recently-available) to create an interactive map. When you select a station, arrows point to the stations that most trips go to or come from. (See A Closer Look at Bikeshare Data for more details, and Looking at CaBi Stats with a Bubble Map for a different method of visual analysis.)
Hovering over an arrow or the station it points to displays a window showing the trips made between the two stations. The difference between the two directions is the “unbalancedness,” also shown as a percent of the total.
I wanted to see how challenging it would be to adjust the program for bike-sharing systems in other cites, though Capital Bikeshare is the only one I’ve ever used. I looked at web sites for Paris’s Vélib’, London’s Barclays Cycle Hire, and Denver B-cycle, but couldn’t find any links for open data.
Boston’s Hubway doesn’t post trip data on their web site, but the Hubway Data Visualization Challenge made available data from a 14-month period (July 28, 2011 to October 1, 2012). Though the contest has ended, I created my Hubway Trip Visualizer.
The Hubway’s contest’s data included information about their registered users that CaBi has never shared: the rider’s year of birth, sex, and zip code. I haven’t yet incorporated this additional info, but you can see what others did by browsing all the creative submissions posted to the contest’s leaderboard.
The only way the public can study their local bikeshare system is when the data is publicly available. Citizens (that is, customers) have a right to open data. It should be part of the culture of all public agencies, and should be written into contracts with anyone who manages a bikesharing system. I hope these sample apps for Washington and Boston help demonstrate the power of open data.