What if everyone were a cyclist?

And what if everyone had an even probability of visiting some other fellow cyclist who lived between 3 and 8 kilometers away from them? This would be a beautiful and strange world. Here is what the traffic might look like in that world, assuming there were no effects of congestion. Thicker lines have more bikes:

map

Line thickness is scaled to the log of a measure of betweenness, based on optimal paths for bicycles, as defined according to current OSM data and OSRM‘s default bicycle routing profile. ‘People’ were located randomly inside their 2010 home census block and routes were calculated between random pairs of people where the straight-line distance between them was between 3 and 8 kilometers. The distance limits are to simulate reasonable cycling trips and work against MAUP effects.

This is the first step in a project to develop mode-specific street hierarchies, which can be used in transport maps where auto-based classification schemes are undesireable or unavailable. In the coming days, I’ll work on a better weighting scheme (than population density) and look at other modes and cities. I’ll be working the results into a poster for NACIS 2017, showing the different hierarchical classifications that result for cycling, walking, and driving modes, hopefully across three cities with widely different development patterns (Cincinnati, Toronto, …?)

More to come soon!

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Posted in: Design | Maps | Silly Bullshit
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Some thoughts on Toronto

For those of you who may have missed an earlier post, or who are finding this blog for the first time, please be advised that there may be but few updates coming. I have moved away from my exciting and bitter eight-year relationship with Cincinnati to the more expensive and diverse city of Toronto, Ontario.

toronto the blurry

Still seen as through a cell phone, darkly.

Though having been here for several days now, I feel I should send a letter home with some initial thoughts and relevant comparisons.

  1. I don’t yet understand how bicycling works here. There seems to be much more bicycle infrastructure, and about a thousand times more cyclists, but I still find myself quite definitely on the vehicular cycling side of the debate. Cyclists here ride far to the right side of the road, and while car drivers seem very much more competent at driving near people, they can still pass extremely close to the cyclists, even while they are riding in the door-zone next to parked cars. In fact, that appears to be the norm. Perhaps people are also extremely cautious about opening their car doors? As a vehicular cyclist myself, this sort of riding absolutely terrifies me. Yet a couple times when I tried to take the lane for myself, the car behind me clearly indicated that this was not how it expected/wanted me to behave. There are also clear benefits to filtering forward on the right: cars can’t turn until the pedestrians clear the crosswalks, but bikes going straight can get ahead of the turning cars by moving with the pedestrians.
  2. Streetcar tracks are not as bad for bike tires as I thought they would be or as the ones in Cincinnati are. I think the Toronto tracks have narrower grooves and are more flush with the road.
  3. There is actual bicycle congestion here, exacerbated to be sure by the fact that cyclists generally stick to a narrow bike lane. Passing is constrained by the presence of cars on the left, so a slow rider can hold up a line of bikes for a while. Also, cyclists actually pile up at red lights! That’s not interesting so much as it is exciting, I guess.
  4. Can it be possible that Cincinnati has a slightly more modern fare payment system than Toronto?? This agency still has tokens and accepts cash fares at the point of boarding, and does not have a stored-value card1!
  5. Streetcars travel down the middle of many two lane streets and people board them by walking to the middle of the street across a lane of traffic. But the traffic is extremely well-trained and will not pass a stopped streetcar until all of the doors are closed.
  6. What’s the deal with the new streetcar designs TTC is rolling out? Are they supposed to be sexier? Flashier? To get all the “choice riders”? Hell no. They are clearly being introduced because they are larger and the smaller streetcar vehicles can get insanely crowded. There is a line in the Spadina subway station to get on the streetcar and they have to cut it off when it’s packed full. A larger vehicle…
  7. ¬†Streetcar bunching and breakdowns are a major problem as far as I can tell. TTC operates some very long routes, and since the vehicles can’t pass eachother or anything else that gets in their way, all of the cars have to turn back before the breakdown until the thing is cleared. Streetcars have their charm, but this would not be a problem with electric trolley buses.

So, I think the big lessons from the first week are that it’s possible to train car drivers to be more competent around the humans, bike lanes do NOT ever make me feel more safe, and streetcars are definitely less reliable than buses.

That’s what I got for today. Now back to working on that real-time app!

Show 1 footnote

  1. Though I hear that one is already available and working on only part of the fleet.
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Posted in: Bicycles | Investments | modes | Technology Choices
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Bike Map Update

Fundraising Update:
The time is 9:57pm, June 27, and the final donation has just come in: We’re done!!!!

The Dancing Banana

Super-ultra-platinum sponsor:
Haile Foundation

Gold Sponsors:
REI Cincinnati
Steve Magas

Silver Sponsors
UC Geography Department
UrbanCincy
Urban Sites
Gaslight

Individual Sponsors:
Justin Ogilby
Minh Nguyen
Frank Henson
James Braye
Jack & Lyn Martin

Progress update:
(June 26)
I’m back in town now after a little trip to New York. Off to DAAP shortly to test-print/color-check some things I was playing with on the train.
I decided that one of the inset maps will show regional trails between Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Xenia, etc. Another will detail elevation, and a third will highlight transit and retail areas. I’ve also been riding all around the city, which is much more tiring and time-consuming than I had expected, looking for speed limit signs and finding water fountains. If anyone knows of any fountains on the west side outside of Mt. Echo park, you could save me some time by telling me about them!
The most difficult part has been working on my script to identify dead-ends in OpenStreetMap data, but that’s coming along too.

I’ll try and post some screenshots here later this week as I develop things I feel ready sharing!

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Posted in: Bicycles
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