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Watch a busy Saturday on Capital Bikeshare in 25 seconds

A video animating London bikeshare trips on the day of a Tube strike has become a standard staple for anyone showing off the fruits of open data. Now, thanks to open trip data for Capital Bikeshare, MV Jantzen animated our system for Sunday Saturday, November 20 19, 2011:

Jantzen writes:

The bikes don't have GPS transmitters on them, so all we know is the data for the start and end of each trip. Thus, all dots are shown moving in straight lines. The speed of course doesn't correspond to the rider's actual speed, since we don't know their routes, or whether they paused for stops along the way. ...

The CaBi data includes whether the rider was a casual or registered user, depending on whether the rider's membership was for a month or longer. The movie shows casual users with dots that fade from green to yellow. Registered users are represented with dots that fade from blue to purple. A histogram on the right records the number of bikes in use at each moment.

The movie excludes the 210 trips that began and ended at the same station. 63% of these "round trips" were made by casual users. (Casual users made up 32% of the other trips.) You will still see some dots that appear to be stationary, but they are actually moving very slowly, representing people who go far, far beyond the 30-minute time limit for free trips.

It would be interesting to see one for a weekday as well. We know weekdays look very different from weekends.

Update: Jantzen realized that the original video used data from November 20, 2010, not 2011 as he originally planned. He has now updated the video and the new video is in this post. You can also still see the original video. The new video shows data for Saturday, November 19, 2011.


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Interesting to note that no bikes along the R-B corridor were apparently used that day.

by Canaan on Apr 4, 2012 2:23 pm


The data is from November 20, 2011. I don't believe many of the R-B stations were installed yet, despite showing up on the map there.

by Alex B. on Apr 4, 2012 2:45 pm

I wondered if that was part of it as well. I'm not to familiar with the timeline but if that maps includes the new stations at Va. Square and Central library then those stations didn't exist at the time of the video.

by Canaan on Apr 4, 2012 2:57 pm

I assume that the dots just go in a straight line from the starting place to the ending place of each journey, since the actual path wasn't tracked. Still, a very fascinating, useful tool.

by Frank IBC on Apr 4, 2012 4:25 pm

Oh, duh... I just jumped into the comment window without reading the whole article. Sorry... as you were, keep calm and carry on. :)

by Frank IBC on Apr 4, 2012 4:28 pm

The difference in speeds between the casual users and the registered users is interesting.

Blue/purple hornets and green/yellow snails (especially that slowpoke riding south on the 14th St. Bridge around 4 pm).

by Frank IBC on Apr 4, 2012 4:36 pm

It's like antibodies attacking a virus.

by TM on Apr 4, 2012 5:02 pm

@Frank IBC
The difference in speeds between the casual users and the registered users is interesting.

It's probably because the casual users ride around randomly more before returning a bike. Since the tool only measures distance between stations and not total distance ridden it means they look like they are riding slower when they are probably just traversing more ground.

by MLD on Apr 4, 2012 5:06 pm

What fun!

by Pelham1861 on Apr 4, 2012 5:43 pm

I feel bad for that poor, local bastard who checked out a bike @8th&H NW @~3:30AM, and just wandered SSE (to where!?) until the end of the day.

by Steven H on Apr 4, 2012 8:39 pm

My apologies: the data was from 2010, not 2011. I've retitled the YouTube video (though the last frame still has the wrong year). This explains why the Rosslyn corridor saw no traffic. I've since created a new movie for the same day in 2011 - see (I will be doing "quality assurance" for it tomorrow, but meanwhile feel free to do your own sanity check!)

QA can be a challenge when working alone; in this case the data files from CaBi clearly had every trip correctly labeled, and in fact behind the scenes I even labeled my derived data as from 2010. Well, oops. Anyone interested in getting an early look at future projects, please follow me at - it's always nice to have folks give things a sanity check.

@Steven H: here's the original data for the trip you mention (in CaBi's own format):

53h 24min. 34sec.,11/20/2010 3:15,11/22/2010 8:40,8th & H St NW (31228),4th & M St SW (31108),W00448,Registered

So, yes, he had the bike checked out for over 53 hours, ending up at 4th & M SW two days later!

by M.V. Jantzen on Apr 4, 2012 11:59 pm

MLD - good point. Still fascinating to watch, even though I know the reason now.

Steven H - I feel even sorrier for the poor guy in the 2010 video who took 8 hours (3 AM to 11 AM) to go the 300 meters from 12th & Newton Sts. NE to the east side of the CU campus, only to be eaten by a blue grue. :)

by Frank IBC on Apr 5, 2012 9:56 am

I live near the 4th and M SW station, and I know that when it is full late at night (especially if the Water St. station is also full), CaBi lets you keep the bike over night and return it the next morning. Otherwise you'd have to park up at L'Enfant or something and walk over a mile by yourself in the middle of the night to get back to 4th & M. So, I bet that man or woman had the bike in their apartment for most of those 53 hours, and did not get charged.

by Tracy on Apr 23, 2012 3:13 pm

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