Civic News
Data / Transportation

Why DataLensDC is watching your bike commute

A set of new visualizations reveals some interesting nuances to this growing transportation trend.

What does your commute look like? (Photo by Flickr user Till Krech, used under a Creative Commons license)

How did you get to work this morning?
If you rode a bike (Capital Bikeshare or otherwise), you’re part of the rapid growth this mode of transportation has seen in the past few years. In fact, according to data from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), bike ridership more than doubled from 2008 to 2014.
Kate Rabinowitz started DataLensDC in order to help make sense of the changing character of D.C. “Most District residents can sense the rapid change occurring around them,” she told via email. “Presenting visualizations on different aspects of these changes hopefully helps people to be more informed on and civically engaged with issues in the District.”
Recently, Rabinowitz decided to turn her attention, and her data viz skills, to biking data.
See the maps
“In my nearly six years here I’ve seen the dramatic rise of biking from a niche to commonplace transport option,” she said. But what exactly were the numbers behind her observations?
Rabinowitz’s work shows the rise of biking by neighborhood — 11th and Florida NW sees far more bike traffic than Gallatin and 8th NE, for example.
It also shows that, while there are some differences by neighborhood, there are still far more male cyclists than female cyclists in D.C.
Rabinowitz told that she had expected to see the gender demographics shift more over time — to see a marked rise in the number of female cyclists. Instead, she found that the more interesting gender and biking data could be found at a neighborhood level. “The greatest variation in gender depended on location, which I think speaks to how bike ridership is viewed differently by different communities in D.C.,” she said.
This wasn’t the only thing that surprised Rabinowitz about the biking data.
The number of bikes on the 14th Street and Key bridges connecting D.C. to Arlington was also far higher than she expected. “Ridership at both is near four times the median ridership for a given location,” she said. “It shows how biking in DC is more than just riding about the neighborhood; it’s a serious commuter option.”


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