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Interactive Map Shows The Best Times To Take A Citi Bike: Gothamist

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(Courtesy Todd Schneider)

Say, hypothetically, that it’s rush hour on Monday evening, and you’re departing the overly-air conditioned Midtown office building in which you spend your days and heading to an important date in Greenpoint. You are late, but the E train has fallen victim to sick passengers, the G is stalled somewhere near Court Square, and no one has seen the W since 2009. It’s a thirst emergency, and your only options are to get on a Citi Bike or take a cab…WYD?

Assuming the cost of a cab and the matter of pedaling-sweat don’t factor into your decision, the answer to your question can now be answered through data.

On Tuesday, software developer Todd W. Schneider released an interactive guide showing when and where in the city it’s better to travel by Citi Bike or yellow cab.

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(Courtesy Todd Schneider)

“Every day in New York City, millions of commuters take part in a giant race to determine transportation supremacy,” Schneider writes. “Cars, bikes, subways, buses, ferries, and more all compete against one another, but we never get much explicit feedback as to who ‘wins.'” Having explored taxi and Citi Bike data sets separately, “it occurred to me that these datasets can help identify who’s fastest, at least between cars and bikes.”

Turns out, users of the city’s bike share program pretty regularly outpace their motorized counterparts: an estimated 40 percent of weekday cab rides within the Citi Bike service area would be quicker on a bicycle, according to the data. During peak midday hours, that number jumps over 50 percent.

It’s a nifty little guide, and we recommend you spend some time checking it out yourself. We’ve rounded up some of the major takeaways below:

  • Cyclists rule the rainy roads. According to Schneider, the top four dates where Citi Bikes did best against taxis all featured a storm—potentially suggesting that cars feel the brunt of weather-related traffic (it’s also possible there’s a selection bias, and only the speediest of bikers ride in the rain).
  • Two (or three) wheels still beats four when crossing Midtown. In daytime trips from the United Nations to Hell’s Kitchen, Citi Bikes beat out taxis a decisive 90 percent of the time.
  • Unsurprisingly, taxis perform much better when driving on the edges of Manhattan—around 35 percent of trips that remain west of 8th Avenue would be faster on a Citi Bike.
  • Taxis also have the edge for longer trips—less than a quarter of rides 6 miles or longer would be faster on a bike.
  • When the president comes to Manhattan—as he is today—you’re going to want to avoid driving anywhere near him. Same goes for when the UN is in session.
  • North Brooklynites hoping to survive the coming L train shut won’t be saved by cars. According to Schneider, Citi Bikes speed past taxis when traveling from Williamsburg to basically anywhere in Manhattan during rush hour.
  • It appears that taxis are getting slower. Per Schneider’s modeling, a weekday morning trip from Midtown East to Union Square that took 10 minutes in 2009 would average 11:45 in 2017. Citi Bikes have shown no such slowdown over time.

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(Courtesy Todd Schneider)

Like any good data guru, Schneider is careful to hedge his findings, noting that there are plenty of other factors to consider when choosing whether or not to hail a cab. There’s also the matter of the subway, which for obvious reasons can’t be compared in quite the same way (though we’re supposed to get some better subway data soon).

But despite the tool’s limitations, Schenider still thinks some common sense implications can be drawn from the project. “Bike usage in New York has increased dramatically over the past decade, probably in large part because people figured out on their own that biking is often the fastest option,” he writes. “Even with this growth, though, the data shows that a lot of people could still save precious time—and minimize their worse-case outcomes—if they switched from cars to bikes. To the extent the city can incentivize that, it strikes me as a good thing.”



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