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Screenshot 2014-06-17 11.05.18

The trips logged on the app, aggregated into a beautiful blue mess

Since its May 1st debut, the users of the Cycle Philly App have logged more than 5,000 trips. The app records a user’s bicycle route and time with two simple Start/Stop touches, and asks for basic purpose-of-trip information afterwards. A notes feature allows you to record issues or joys associated with a specific trip.

The aggregated data will be made available to transportation planners to help prioritize future investments in bicycle infrastructure improvements. You can look at the map of all the recorded trips at www.cyclephilly.org.  To preserve privacy, the beginning and end of bicycle trips are truncated for public viewing.

Central Cycle Philly 6-17

Focusing on Center City provides insight into which streets bicyclists use to get around

A glance at the map shows some clear and predictable patterns, such as the number of recorded trips in Central, South and West Philadelphia, with those trips grouping around Spruce St, Pine St and the South Street Bridge. But there are quite a few surprises to be found if you look at it hard enough. A few are highlighted below.

  • Bella Vista and Queen Village seem to have fewer recorded north-south trips than than the adjacent neighborhoods to the north and west.
  • Washington Ave is the primary east-west bike route in South Philadelphia
  • “Commute” and “Exercise” trip purposes had the most entries.
  • Baltimore Pike is clearly visible as the most popular bike route in Delaware County. This is also observed on the map released in April by Strava.
  • A few users have figured out an on-road route from the Chester Valley Trail to Valley Forge.
  • New Jersey is underrepresented, having far fewer trips than the Pennsylvania suburbs.

Of course this data has its limitations. You need a smartphone or a wireless broadband tablet, and the total adoption rate by Philly-area bicyclists is still low. And perhaps the name Cycle Philly creates the impression that it is only to be used by people bicycling within Philadelphia city limits. This last point is incorrect – bicyclists in the greater Philadelphia region should use the app, as the lessons gleaned from this usage data can inform planning decisions region-wide.

If you haven’t yet, pick up the free app for Android or iPhone and “make your ride count.”

John Boyle

Author

John has been a commuting cyclist for more than 20 years. In 1994 he began working as a volunteer for the Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley after attending a volunteer night, and later served as a board member in 1997-98. In 1999 John left Philadelphia for Charlottesville, VA, where he helped establish the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation (ACCT), a bicycle and walking advocacy group.

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