Over 700 cities around the world have implemented bike sharing systems that allow people to make use of public bikes for short trips within the city. The motivation is to reduce air pollution, noise and vehicular traffic congestion while providing people with the health benefits that come from daily exercise (which has been shown to decrease the costs of city-provided health services). The bikes can usually be used for free or for very low cost.
Oliver O’Brien, a researcher in the Geography Department of University College London has built a bike-share map that tracks the locations of bikes in the bike share systems of about 100 cities throughout the world. You can start with a global map and then click on the city of your choice to check out the more-or-less current state of the bike-sharing stations in the city. For example, here are the maps for Washington DC, New York, London, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro.
The circles on the city maps represent bike-share stations with the size of the circle indicating the number of bikes it can hold and the color indicating how full it is. For bike-share systems that allow it, the map updates about every two minutes. Some systems don’t permit updating this frequently and for this reason O’Brien advises against using the map to find out if there is a bike or an open space for a bike near you at any given moment. Unfortunately, the map does not tell you how often each city updates.
The bike-share map also has a tab that opens up a set of graphs showing how many docks are operating, how many bikes were in use and the imbalance in distribution of bikes over the system during the previous 24 hours. In addition there is an animated version of the map that shows the docking station changes over the previous 48 hours which can be accessed from a tab at the bottom of the static map.
O’Brien has a blog that includes a post about the bike-share map in which he writes about things like where the data displayed in the map come from, and why some cities that have bike-share systems are not included on the map.
This article has been cross-posted to The Info Monkey.