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Citi Bike Usage in Jersey City for 2017

Citi Bike (managed by Motivate) has operated in Jersey City since 2015. All data for trips that take place within Jersey City is publicly available via the Citi Bike official website; however, no standardized report currently exists to summarize this information in an easily readable format. This is a citizens’ data analysis initiative by JC Labs & Bike JC to dig into the numbers and create regularly updated usage summaries.

In this write up, we will examine all data for 2017 and answer some basic questions about when and where trips were taken. We would like to point out that data analysis is only as good as the questions asked. Hopefully this report will help the public understand more about Citi Bike in Jersey City, but it is more important for it to serve as a starting point to generate better questions for future analyses. Please reach out if you have thoughts on specific analyses to look into or metrics to track. Email: jerseycitylabs@gmail.com

What does the average Citi Bike trip look like?

According to Citi Bike data for Jersey City, 294,928 trips were taken in 2017. This number has grown 19% since 2016 which was the first full year Citibike JC was in operation and had 247,584 trips.

Across the system, 1,201 bikes were utilized with each bike used, on average, 245 times, for an average trip duration of about 12 minutes. There is a large range in this data though, with the most utilized bike “checked out” 782 times and the 15 least utilized checked out only 1 time.

There is also a wide range in trip duration. Below we’ve plotted the distribution of trip durations across the entire Jersey City network. For this analysis, we’ve focused specifically on trips lasting 20 minutes or less as 92% of all trips fell within this category (it also helps keep our graph readable). Also worth noting, this dataset automatically excludes rides that are less than 1 minute.

Most Jersey City Citi Bike trips fall within the 3 to 5 minute range, approximately 87,000 trips. This category accounted for 30% of all trips in 2017.

Trip duration also changes depending on the time of year. Below we’ve plotted the average trip duration for each month.

Trips had the longest duration during spring and shortest duration in winter. This seems somewhat correlated with months that have good temperatures for bike riding, though not exactly.

Who is riding Citi Bike in Jersey City?

Next, we’ll organize  some statistics about who is using Citi Bike in Jersey City. Individual trip records include fields for age and gender of the rider (there are a few hundred records which do not include this information).

Below we’ve created a table of gender and age buckets for all trips in Jersey City. Each cell indicates the percentage of trips taken by that specific user type with darker shading indicating a higher proportion on a relative basis.

The largest share of trips were taken by 25-34 year old males, over one-third of all trips (34%). In general, we see greater use by males than females, approximately 4x to 5x greater use regardless of age bucket. Age patterns emerge regardless of gender, with most trips taken by 25-34 year olds for both male and female riders. These accounted for 50% of all trips taken by female riders and 43% of trips taken by male riders.

When are people riding Citi Bike in Jersey City?

Now, let’s learn more about when riders are making their trips. Below we’ve plotted the total number of trips for each month in 2017.

From this we can see that in total, usage was lowest from January through March and highest from August through October. Our peak month, August, saw 35,472 Citi Bike trips, while March, the lowest usage month, had only 12,201.

Below, we’ve plotted three other useful metrics for each month: maximum, average, and minimum trips.

Again we see the same trend with fewer trips in winter through early spring and more trips summer through fall. The greatest number of trips in a single day occurred on Oct 10th (1,468 trips). Four days are tied for fewest trips. On 2/9, 3/14, 3/15 and 3/16 absolutely no Citi Bike trips took place. These line up with two blizzards that took place in 2017. The second was particularly disruptive, with pre-storm estimates causing many employers to close offices even though only about 7 inches of snow fell in Jersey City.

Zooming in on particular days of the week, we can compare averages across days. Citi Bike positions itself as a commuter option that complements public transit such as the PATH and NJ Transit buses. Knowing this, we would expect differences between the work week and weekend. Below we’ve plotted the average number of trips by day of the week (and we can validate that assumption).

Citi Bike trips peaked on Wednesdays, with usage dropping off through the weekend. Lowest average use was on Sundays. Grouping our days into two categories, (1) work week and (2) weekends, we see a trend toward a greater number of rides during the week as opposed to the weekends. There was an average of 893 trips per work day (excluding holidays) and 630 trips per weekend day.

Looking at individual days, we can see what times people are typically making their Citi Bike trips. Below we’ve plotted average trips by the hour, separating work week days (excluding public holidays) and weekend days to isolate the differences in usage patterns.

During the work week, most Citi Bike trips occured around rush hour, with peaks at 8AM and 6PM. Maximum ridership was in the morning with approximately 120 rides an hour, but midday usage dropped to just 20 trips an hour. During the weekend, we do not see sharp peaks in trips. The usage trend was a much more gradual arc that flattened out to about 50 rides per hour between 11AM and 4PM.

Where are people riding in Jersey City when using Citi Bike?

Finally, we will look into where riders are going on their Citi Bike trips in Jersey City. This section will highlight the most and least used stations, which we are aware is a topic of interest for Motivate as well as City Hall leadership. This past summer, some disagreement about station locations emerged in the news between these two stakeholders. This analysis is meant to serve as a description of the state of Citi Bike use in Jersey City and should not be construed as a plan regarding proposed system changes.

In the data, station names for start and end locations for trips are noted. Using this data we can see if there are common routes (i.e., combinations of start and end locations) that people typically take. So what are some of the most common routes taken by riders? We’ve created a table of the 25 most common routes as identified by filtering for the largest trip counts between two unique stations.

There are over 2,500 unique start and end combinations in our records. The routes captured by the above table represent the top 1% most traveled. In other words, 99% of all routes were traveled less often than these 25. The most common routes accounted for 27% of all trips in 2017.

All routes on the list of of most common routes involve a station which is adjacent to a PATH station (e.g., Sip Ave is near Journal Square PATH). An interesting trend in the data is that many rides were taken to and from Hamilton Park. The most common (#1) and third-most common (#3) routes were between Hamilton Park and Grove St PATH. The 16th-most common route was from Newport to Hamilton Park. Another commonly taken route was between Morris Canal and Exchange Place.

This list highlights that some Citi Bike stations in Jersey City were used more often than others. Noticeably, all stations located near transit options seemed to demonstrate much higher use than others. We’ve created a table which shows average monthly usage for all Citi Bike stations in Jersey City. This will help highlight which stations are used most and least.

Our usage metric takes into account both how often a station is an origin as well as how often it is a destination. We’ve also noted in which ward each station is located, to help highlight any differences.

An important detail to note is that every station listed may not have been operational for the entirety of 2017. Two stations, Central Ave (#43) and North St (#44), were removed and several others, Harborside (#12), Washington St (#23), Journal Square (#31), and York St (#36), were added. Our analysis takes this into account when calculating averages. We can also see that Ward E has a disproportionate number of Citi Bike stations (25  at the time of writing this), while every other Ward has at most 5 or 6 stations.

In 2017, the top most frequented Citi Bike station was Grove St PATH, traveled to and from an average of 6,733 times per month. The other docking stations in the top 5 were either also located near a PATH station or Hamilton Park. Within the top 10, the majority of docking stations are located within Ward E.

The contrast between the most and least used stations is stark. The least used station was only used 11 times per month on average. Five of the bottom 10 stations are located in Ward A. Other infrequently used stations are located in Ward F and Ward B, but these docking stations seemed to be used a few times a week, with about 50 to 200 monthly average uses in 2017. These results raise a lot of questions, which we’ve added to the “Conclusion” section of the report.

Another interesting factor is bike availability and it has a big influence on where people can ride to or from. Motivate does its part to monitor and redistribute bikes to ensure that a bike is available at popular start locations and free docks are available at popular end locations. We can track when this happened in our data.

Specifically, we can see where bikes were taken from and redistributed to. Below we’ve created a table showing the most common redistributions.

All of the redistributions were between a PATH station to another dock in an outlying neighborhood. Most frequently we see Motivate moved bikes that accumulate at PATH docks out to the more popular stations in Ward E. Again, the relationship between Grove St PATH and Hamilton Park as well as Exchange Place and Morris Canal emerge in our analysis. Bikes were frequently moved between these stations (over 3,000 times in each case).


 

Concluding thoughts on 2017 data:

 

Thoughts and questions this data bring to mind:

  • What are some of the barriers to Citi Bike use for those residents living in Wards A and F? A few possible issues are a lack of protected roadways, high costs for a subscription (~$160 annual membership), and a low density of nearby stations (i.e., there are fewer nearby docking stations to travel to and from).
  • Regarding station density, the data shows that most Citi Bike trips in Jersey City last from approximately 4 to 10 minutes. This suggests that people use Citi Bike for short duration rides. If stations in areas like Ward A and Ward F are far enough apart that a short trip duration is not possible, it could disincentivize use. A question that begs asking: Have any surveys been conducted by Motivate or the City to examine the issue more closely?
  • What effects would the upcoming Grand Street Vision redesign and the addition of protected bike lanes do to change use?
  • What can be done to close the gender gap in cycling and in bike shares specifically?
  • According to the NJ.com article regarding  potential station relocations, the City stated it would work to increase ridership in low use areas. Another question to ask is whether any of these initiatives were followed up on?
  • In general, rebalancing seems like it could be inefficient (for example, bikes were redistributed between Exchange Place to Morris Canal nearly as many times as the opposite). Is there a better way to do this? Does this relationship suggest that certain stations should just have more bikes and/or docks available (such as Hamilton Park or Morris Canal)?

To all readers, do you feel there were factors that play an important role in the analysis that we did not consider? Are there additional analyses you believe would better explain some of the trends we have identified? Are there any metrics and/or visuals you would like to see in future analyses? Please share your thoughts and help us improve! Email us at hello@bikejc.org or on Twitter @bikejc

Data analysis + article by: Richard Trent
Data source: Motivate
Analysis: Github
Additional Tables: Google Sheets