Boris Bikes · Flow network for London’s Cycle Hire scheme, known as the ‘Boris Bikes’ · Anil Bawa-Cavia (2010)
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This network visualisation shows the first 1.4M trips on the London Cycle Hire scheme, with the brightness of each connecting line indicating the volume of flow between any two cycle docks. The graphic aggregates trips over a 3 month period. The two largest hubs, visible as bright spots, one near the center of the image and one in the North, are the South Bank (Concert Approach), and King’s Cross respectively.

The network has been designed as a mesh, but the flow network shows that connectivity between docks is much stronger in the East and North of the network. In the West, Hyde Park spells out a quadrangle of cycle stops which are the most popular in the city on weekends.

The trip data shows that the sweet spot for cycle travel in the London network is about 800 meters, or a 10 minute cycle, despite a pricing scheme that admits free travel for upto 30 minutes at a time. This fits well with previous research on walkable distances that has indicated 800m about the maximum tolerable distance for walking in an urban context (see Legible London).

The emergence of King’s Cross as a hub in the flow data implies the bikes are being used considerably in multi-modal commuting trips, as this is not a destination in itself, but a transport interchange. The dynamics of the data again implies a heavy use of the bikes in commuting.

For more analysis of the Cycle Hire scheme, see the work of my colleagues Ollie O’Brien and Dr. Martin Austwick, which has looked at popular routes and further trip visualisations.

See Also: Flowprint, Data, Oyster, Network