Ever wondered the best way to bike around your city? You could try throwing loads of data at the question. Software developer Todd Schneider used New York’s Citi Bike rental data to create a map of the most popular routes around the city and the end result is a fascinating visualization of how people use the scheme, which since its opening in May 2013 has provided a convenient new way for people to traverse the city.

Cycling is a healthy, eco-friendly, and increasingly popular method of transportation. Statista research shows that in the United States, 66.52 million people went cycling in the past 12 months when data was last reported in spring 2016. Five years prior, that figure was just 49.99 million. Rental systems like Citi Bike encourage people to give cycling a try: last year, users completed 14 million trips.

As Citi Bike data only shows where people rented and returned a bike, Schneider had to make some jumps to create “popular routes.” He used Google Maps’ bike directions to work out the best way from the start to end point, which isn’t necessarily the route renters are cycling. They may have taken a detour, for example, or didn’t use directions and chose less efficient routes.

Schneider also noted that Google’s routing has certain preferences. The directions tend to favor routes with cycle paths - which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as paths are popular with cyclists where they mean extra protection from traffic. Seasoned cyclists may choose shorter routes, though, particularly if they know a dangerous route will get them there a lot faster.

Here is the map below:

story continues below

As Schneider explains:

The map shows a handful of primary routes for cyclists: 8th and 9th avenues heading uptown and downtown, respectively, on the west side, and 1st and 2nd avenues heading uptown and downtown, respectively, on the east side. The single road segment most trafficked by Citi Bikes lies along 8th Avenue, from W 28th Street to W 29th Street. Other main bike routes include Broadway, cutting diagonally across Midtown Manhattan, and the west side bike path along the Hudson River.

So as it turns out, a lot of people like to travel up and down the island of Manhattan. The routes cut through some of the most interesting sights of the city, and because the data shows the routes are popular with cyclists, you’ll likely meet some fellow travelers on your journeys.

Photos via Todd Schneider