Capital Bikeshare heat map visualizes 2016 rides, first look at Fairfax ridership

Earlier this month, Mobility Lab tech advisor Michael Schade shared a look at the latest Capital Bikeshare ridership data with his new heat map. Not only does the map grant an easy way to create a more detailed look at how individual neighborhoods use bikeshare, it also includes the first few months of ridership in Fairfax County, which joined the system in October 2016.

A common issue with heat maps is that they do not easily allow for a nuanced view of data. Switching from the “heat map” view, which displays the spread of stations, to “weighted by trips” showcases where the majority of trips took place. In this case, the default “weighted by trips” view shows a trend that’s already well-understood with regards to the geographic spread of bikeshare trips. The vast majority of Capital Bikeshare rides take place in an area that encompasses downtown D.C., the National Mall, and Dupont Circle. Trips also gravitate toward the denser urban villages along Metro lines, such as Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

arlington cabi 2016

That behavior is shown to continue in the 2016 data, supported by the preference of Capital Bikeshare members who use the system as a way of connecting to transit.

On most heat maps, places that do not draw as many trips as those most-popular areas generally do not depict any noticeable coloring. But this visualization of Capital Bikeshare data allows users to isolate the trip visualizations by jurisdiction. Where, in the same view of downtown D.C., Arlington may only show a few trips on the R-B and Crystal City corridors, the “Arlington-only” view shows a more nuanced view of bikeshare ridership extending into the Columbia Pike area and the more suburban parts of the county.

By selecting only “Fairfax County” under the jurisdiction, it becomes more clear how the county’s first bikeshare riders used the system in the fall of last year.

fairfax trips

At the 19 stations split between Reston and Tysons, a heat map weighted by the number of trips highlights a general preference for the former, despite the three Metro stops near the Tysons bikeshare stations. It is likely that the more biking-friendly street grid in Reston Town Center is encouraging more riders there, while others are making the last-mile trek from the Wielhe-Reston station, currently the terminus of the Silver Line, to the commercial and residential center.

fairfax overdue

Trips in Fairfax weighted by overdue rides.

While the maps for “registered” and “casual” (unregistered) riders are virtually the same for both areas of Fairfax, a heatmap weighted by overdue rides suggests that riders may be taking longer, more recreational rides around the Town Center. It is also worth noting that Reston’s stations are closer to the multi-use Washington & Old Dominion trail.

Even for large jurisdictions, it’s possible for advocates and the bikeshare-curious to zoom in on the adjusted heatmap of any area they select. Using the adjustable circle and square selection tools, users can select certain parts of the system, highlighting specific areas and weighting them across multiple variables. These make the site a versatile tool for understanding how riders used Capital Bikeshare in 2016.

Are there any new insights you can spot? Let us know below in the comments.

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