DVRPC releases new CyclePhilly data on which streets cyclists use most

Back in February we took a look at what the first six months of CyclePhilly data are telling us about which routes cyclists like best.

CyclePhilly is an app produced by Code for Philly, the Bicycle Coalition, DVRPC, SEPTA, and the City of Philadelphia which logs voluntarily-shared cyclist trip data for planning purposes. In their words, the data provides “an additional resource for local planners and agencies in an effort to understand bicycle trends, routes, and trip purposes, implement better bicycle facilities, and connect the region’s trail network, known as The Circuit.”

How it works is that when you’re about to bike somewhere, you log onto the app, select the type of trip you’re making (commuting, shopping, etc.) and ride to your destination. Then, thanks to the modern marvel of GPS, your trip data finds its way onto this cool map of everybody else’s trips who use the app.

During the first six-month study period, 220 unique users logged 8,340 individual trips on the app, yielding a trove of trip data that provides a glimpse into the cycling behavior of the people who used it.

When the initial findings were released, DVRPC said they would eventually make (anonymized) trip-by-trip GIS data available for those looking to conduct additional analysis of specific routes, and yesterday they made good on that promise.

Three new datasets have now been added to the “download data” tab under “Tools and Data” on the DVRPC web site.

From the press release:

  • Trip detail by segment (available as a Shapefile)
    Discrete trip data for each segment in the network, including voluntary (but not personally-identifiable) rider characteristics for each trip.
  • Trip by trip summary (available as a Shapefile or a GeoJson):
    Linework for every individual trip.
  • Segment network nodes (available as a Shapefile or a GeoJson):
    Can be used with the above datasets to support spatial analysis, such as origin-destination analysis.

DVRPC will release their own analysis, but they’re inviting data wonks and private parties to do their own number-crunching. For some examples of what type of information is in here, DVRPC shared the highest counts on road segments for each trip purpose:

Total Trips – 866: Spring Garden (between 9th & 10th)

Commute – 672: Spring Garden (between 6th & 7th)

Errand – 68: Pine (between 15th & 17th)

Exercise – 65: Schuylkill River (between Art Museum and 25th Street)

Other – 19: Spruce (between 33rd & 34th)

School – 44: Cecil B Moore (between Park and 13th)

Shopping – 22: Martha (near Front and Frankford)

Social – 99 trips: Spring Garden (between 9th & 10th)

Work-Related – 45 trips: South Street Bridge and Spruce (between 16th & 17th) 

The obvious thing to note is that this data is going to be skewed toward the behavior of the most regular CyclePhilly app users.

As PlanPhilly transportation reporter and self-described “bike nerd” Jim Saksa noted to me earlier, he doesn’t use the app, neither do I, and we suspect neither do most of our colleagues at WHYY (who, judging by the full bike parking racks here this winter, probably occupy the upper deciles of bike nerdery in Philadelphia.)  

That doesn’t mean the data is necessarily off, of course. Looking at some of the most popular routes, people are engaging in pretty sensible and predictable behavior, making their way from whatever their origin point may be to the streets with decent crosstown bike facilities like Spring Garden, Spruce, or Pine, and then getting back onto streets with lower levels of service for bikes closer to their destinations. Would recruiting more app users reinforce this pattern, or would we see different behaviors emerge?

To find out, CyclePhilly will continue collecting more trip data over the next few months to learn more about how people ride in Philly, and if you log a trip on the app between now and October 2015, you’ll be entered to win a GoPro helmet cam.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal