A Glimpse of Bike Share Geographies Around the World

[Update – now including a much larger version.] Below is the image I submitted to this year’s UCL Research Images as Art exhibition. You can see it, and around 300 other entries, in the South Cloisters on the UCL campus in central London, for the next few days. A larger version can be viewed here. The image purposely has no explanatory text as it is intended as a piece of “infogeographic art” rather than as a map. It is derived from the dots for the various cities on my bike share map.

It shows the “footprint” of the docking stations making up 49 bike share systems around the world. The colours represent the empty/full state of each docking station at the particular moment in time when the image was made. The numbers show the total number of docking points – each docking station being made up of one or more docking points, each of which may or may not have a bike currently parked in it.

The geographies and topographies of the cities themselves inform the shape of the systems – particularly coastal cities (e.g. Nice, Rio, Barcelona, Miami Beach) and ones with large lakes mountains near their centres (e.g. Montreal).

A subtle but important point on the scaling: The scales of the systems (i.e. each system footprint and the spacing between docking stations) are roughly comparable – they actually vary by the cosine of the latitude – these means that the more tropical systems, e.g. Mexico City’s, appear to be up to ~20% smaller than they actually are, relative to the majority which are generally at temperate latitudes. However, the sizes of the circles themselves are directly comparable across all the systems, i.e each pixel on the graphic represents an equal number of docking points, regardless of which system it is in.