Join us at the South Street Seaport on July 8th at 6:30pm for a discussion of big transportation ideas. Details below; register here.
Check out video of our Citi Bike App Showcase event. Thanks to Joly MacFie and the Internet Society for recording and posting.
By Sarah Kaufman
Last week I attended the Personal Democracy Forum, an annual two-day symposium on the intersection of technology and politics, and often the source of much rabble-rousing in online rights. This year’s theme was “Save the Internet / The Internet Saves,” referring to the massive data-gathering of online records by government contrasted with the frequent positive interactions and movements only made possible by the internet’s connectivity.
I had the pleasure of participating in the conference as one of fifteen Google PDF Fellows who, like me, believe in the power of the internet and open data to make our cities and countries better places to live, work and get around. That Microsoft and Google were major sponsors of a conference on individualized web rights speaks volumes about the current push-pull relationship between simultaneous calls for personal privacy and government transparency.
That push-pull exists widely in transportation as well: We do not want our movements tracked, but we want Uber cars on demand. We want real-time information about how many people are in a station, but don’t want our own MetroCard swipes made public. We want traffic data, but don’t want our phones constantly being pinged for motion detection.
When it comes to transportation, we are often being tracked more than it seems, and up to this point, it has worked out to our benefit. Significant sets of transportation data, including procurement practices and taxi trips, should still be opened quickly and in digestible formats to take us to the next level of smart mobility.
However, privatized modes constitute a growing sector of transportation, including Uber, ZipCar and corporate shuttle buses. None of those modes are legally required to disclose data, but imagine if they did: perhaps cities would be more amenable to the working e-hail model, residents of congested cities could be incentivized to car-share rather than own, and road use fees could be charged appropriately to private buses to help pay for public ones. In a disaster, such as after a storm that knocks out a city’s subway system, data on all of these modes would help mobilize the city to ensure that residents can get to home, work and safe spaces.
It’s time to embrace these private transportation providers as important transportation networks while also requiring them to provide open data, for the greater good of urban mobility.
Mitchell Moss, NYU Rudin Center Director, appeared on CBS this morning to discuss cities’ lack of interest in hosting the Olympics.
Last night’s Citi Bike Data Showcase brought a full, fun crowd to talk about visualizations, apps and nuances of Citi Bike use and analysis. Hosted by the Rudin Center and emceed by Noel Hidalgo of BetaNYC, the event featured several brief talks:
- Dani Simons, Director of Marketing at NYC Bike Share, showed how the organization uses its data to manage bike fleets and where the system expansion may occur going forward.
- Jeff Ferzoco (linepointpath) and Alex Chohlas-Wood (NYU CUSP) discussed their upcoming project of calculating bike salmoning.
- Aaron Fraint (Hunter College) showed his favorite coding tools for analysis and visualization, including some processes that can take three days to complete. (link)
- Ben Wellington (I Quant NY/Pratt) demonstrated the process of map creation using Citi Bike and NYC data with free coding tools.
- Sarah Kaufman (NYU Rudin Center) discussed gender, Citi Bike, and the modern freedoms reflective of women’s discovery of pantaloons.
- Amy Wu and Luke Stern (SVA) redesigning Citi Bike’s checkout and kiosk process
Frank Hebbert (Open Plans) closed out the event by showcasing his new #bikestoday tool, which automatically counts bikes riding past.
See event photos below (by Jeff Ferzoco).
Sarah Kaufman, NYU Rudin Center’s Digital Manager, talked Citi Bike usage on Brian Lehrer’s TV show. See the video below.
Correction: NYC Bike Share is an LLC owned by Alta Bike Share, not a nonprofit run by Citi. (thanks Neil Freeman)
By Sarah Kaufman; Map by Jeff Ferzoco
As the city enters a long-awaited spring and the bikes emerge, so too might a pattern: according to Citi Bike’s public data, men are riding more – far more – than women, averaging three times more rides. Of subscriber-based rides in July through December 2013, men took 76.3% of all trips, and women 23.7%. What is the cause of this disparity, and how can it be resolved?
Women typically attribute reduced cycling numbers to safety among car traffic, and considering Citi Bike’s distribution across some of the most congested parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, lower female participation makes sense. Further analysis of the gender divide by bike share station shows that bike stations in Manhattan are predominantly used by men, while Brooklyn stations are more proportionately popular among women. Of the top ten stations for each gender, women preferred the Brooklyn residential neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, while men were overwhelmingly represented in bustling midtown Manhattan. Women also chose stations in areas with fewer lanes of traffic, more limited truck traffic, fewer collision-based cyclist injuries in recent memory, and in some cases, fast access to bridge entrances; men most often chose stations with more traffic, some truck traffic, some collision-based cyclist injuries, and, typically, connectivity to major transit hubs.
See the map below to explore these stations:
The station with the highest proportion of women, only 37.9%, is Station 266, the East Village’s 8th Street and Avenue D location. Although there is no dedicated bike lane on that block, the area has limited transit access, quieter traffic, and easy access to the tranquil East River waterfront and bridges.
The numbers of women bikers are universally important, since they teach us which locations are safe (and perceived to be). Station 266’s relative diversity can teach us a few things about biking in New York City: When it is (and feels) safe, people will bike as a last-mile transit solution, a connector to parks and recreation, and as a lifeline for improved job access from a distant location (ask an Avenue D resident if they would consider working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a treacherous commute by transit; biking would essentially halve the travel time).
Women have a long favorable history with biking. In the 1890s, women discovered the bicycle as the best means of personal mobility, providing exercise, freedom from reliance on men for transportation, and reform of requirements for wearing unwieldy undergarments. According to suffragist Susan B. Anthony, biking had “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” (source)
In 2014, a safe, active travel mode that complements transit is important for all New Yorkers, and as the system expands farther into the city’s residential reaches of Brooklyn, Queens and uptown Manhattan, we will likely see a more balanced use of the system. By comparison, Washington, DC’s Capital Bikeshare system extends into multiple lower-traffic residential areas like Clinton Hill, and the subscriber rate is a more balanced 55% male, 45% female. (source)
Removing the barriers to cycling will universalize biking’s appeal, and bike share will become a truly mature transportation mode integrated into NYC’s fabric of mobility.
Data note: Station proportions were calculated by number of trip starts by subscribers, the only users for whom gender data is available.
P.S. Enjoy data uses like the one here? Be sure to join us for the Citi Bike data showcase night on May 28.
Monday night’s Short Talks, Big Ideas event showcased the newest innovations in transportation projects and ideas. Thanks to the excellent speakers and large crowd!
See the photos below and visit the tweetstream for discussion.
Photos by Jeff Ferzoco