Watch New Yorkers Use the New Bike-Sharing Program in Near Real-Time

Philip Bump
The Atlantic Wire

New York City's new Citibike program (which — yes, D.C. people — isn't unique) has been received with a mix of emotions by New Yorkers. But one thing is clear: after less than a week, it's already in heavy use, if the real-time data the city makes available is any indicator.

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There's something quintessentially Bloombergian about an emissions-reducing, health-improving system that can also be used to track people. Only very, very loosely, mind you: the data the city provides won't let you see where a bike is or even where a bike started and ended its trip. What it does allow, however, is for those with an inclination to track the number of available bikes at the various pick-up and drop-off points around the city and see when someone picks up (or drops off).

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We made this little map that does exactly that. A few times a minute, it checks the Citibike database and reports when the bike count changes. The city's data also updates only sporadically, so give it a second before the map — and the list of transactions below it, including any empty racks — shows new information. Then, sit back and watch the tiny people of New York City scramble around Brooklyn and Manhattan, picking up bikes and returning them in other locations. Imagine you're dictating where they go and what they eat. It may help the realism if you do so while wearing a satin sash that reads, "MAYOR."

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