We always knew cycling was a major way of life in Berlin, London and New York, but now researchers have created stunning visualisations of bike sharing schemes in the cities.

Till Nagel and Christopher Pietsch are the German researchers behind the cf.city visualisations, based at the Urban Complexity Lab in the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. They mapped urban bike mobility tracing the movements of cyclists using the bike sharing schemes in each city.

Citi Bike in New York, Call a Bike in Berlin, Santander Cycles in London are all bike sharing schemes where users can visit bike stations across the city, collect a bicycle, cycle to the nearest bike station to their destination, and leave the bike there. It has revolutionised cycling in those cities and opens up cycling as a viable alternative to public transport.

‘Boris bikes’

London’s cycling scheme is still sometimes affectionately called ‘Boris Bikes’ – after Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London who introduced the scheme. Others are beginning to call them ‘Sadiq Cycles’ after the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. (Read our blog on Sadiq Khan’s tips for living like a local). The affection for bike sharing schemes in these cities is clear.

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Local cycling trends

One of the notable findings from the visualisations by cf.city is the difference in urban structure between the cities, from the typical US grid system in New York, to the older, winding roads based on much older trade routes in London and Berlin. The Berlin visualisations also show much fewer bike journeys than New York and London. This is because the bike sharing scheme in Berlin is used mostly by tourists. Berliners have their own bikes, while the more spread out cities and more crowded public transport systems of London and New York make the flexibility of bike sharing a more widely used service.

“With our visualizations we want to understand the pulse of urban mobility and create portraits of a city defined by its transient dynamics.” cf.city

Cycling: the future of cities

Last year, cf.city also held an exhibition – ‘Steams and Traces’ – in Berlin, to share their portraits of cities defined by transient dynamics. Engaging the public in ways such as this, where urban trends are easier to interpret, is crucial for the future buy-in for cycling schemes such as this. Cycling is said to be critical to future urban mobility, as the congestion and pollution created by the alternatives becomes more problematic.

Watch this visualisation from cf.city:

Websites:
cf.city
Call a Bike (Berlin)
Santander Cycles (London)
Citi Bike (New York)

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