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New York's Citi Bike Program Releases Historical Trip Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 1 2014

(NYU Rudin/ Information Design Lab)

New York City's Citi Bike program released eight months of trip history data on Monday, fulfilling a core demand of the city's civic hacker community since the start of the program last summer, even amidst reports of financial troubles.

Until now, the only data developers had been able to access and scrape has been bike rack location data and a data feed with information on the availability of bikes in the docks, explained Noel Hidalgo, co-founder and executive director of betaNYC, New York City's Code for America brigade, which has compiled a list of existing Citi Bike applications on GitHub.

"Now one of the things they're finally getting to is a sanitized, cleaned up version of trip data since the launch of the program," he said. The data includes trip duration, trip start time and date, stop time and date, start and end station names, the station ID, the station latitude and longitude, the bike ID, the type of customer and their year of birth.

The data release starts to bring New York City in line with best practices established by Washington D.C., which releases quarterly usage data for its bike share program, and other programs, Hidalgo said. The hope would be that Citi Bike begins releasing the data more regularly, ideally on a monthly basis, he said.

City Council member Brad Lander had introduced legislation last year that would have required the quarterly publication of Citi Bike usage data.

Hidalgo said he expected the newly available data would provide better insight on which stations are being used more frequently and where there are fall-offs in terms of "rebalancing," the process by which Citibike staff deliver bikes to docks where there is frequent high demand, such as by Grand Central station.

NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation received early access to the new Citi Bike data, and for the month of September, its researchers have found indications of "reactionary biking," in the sense that New Yorkers faced with subway delays switched to the Citi Bikes.

"Reactionary biking is indicated during particular instances: for example, on September 17th at 7:45 a.m., the MTA sent an alert that the 2/3 train was delayed at Wall Street, in the heart of Citi Bike’s stations," Sarah Kaufman, digital manager & assistant adjunct Professor of Planning at the Rudin Center wrote in a blog post. "In the half hour surrounding this alert, seventeen rides were recorded along the 2/3 route within four stops of the Wall Street Station; they were not repeated at the same time the following day. The increased rides on days heavy with delays, coupled with September’s pleasant weather (with temperatures ranging from 59 to 76 on average), lead to the conclusion that New Yorkers are avoiding or escaping transit delays by taking to bike share."

The New York Times has also posted a video visualization project by Sarah Kaufman, Jeff Ferzoco of linepointpath, and Juan Francisco Saldarriaga that uses the new data to chart 75,000 total rides taken over a 48 hour period in September and indicating the different journeys of annual and casual members.

Citi Bike Rides: September 17th & 18th, 2013 from Jeff Ferzoco on Vimeo.

betaNYC is organizing two meet-ups in connection with the release of the new data: a hacknight on April 23 to explain what data is available, at which some Citi Bike program representatives will be present, and a showcase event at the end of May.

And bike share data is not the only area where betaNYC engagement is making its mark. Also on Monday, betaNYC member Anita Schmid published a map of licensed day care providers in New York City that is a result of a weeklong e-mail listserv collaboration among several members to locate, scrape and geo-code the relevant data.