Bike sharing around the world

Chicago is about to enter the big leagues in bike sharing. Read our analysis.


Cities in this chart:
Montreal, New York City, Barcelona, London, Paris, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and Hangzhou, China.

In this race, the users win.

I updated the graphic on October 19, 2011, to better show the differences between systems. I had previously used circle diameter to compare systems where circle area was more appropriate. I also added Boston. Minneapolis was added on December 30, 2011. 

11 thoughts on “Bike sharing around the world”

  1. Can you guys update the graphic before linking to it on Twitter and elsewhere. There are several mistakes, as pointed out by a commenter on Flickr. It looks like diameter was used, instead of area, which overstates differences. Also, I think that the area of systems used to calculate densities may be off, as Montreal and London have a similar (perhaps slightly smaller) density as Paris, but are shown to have a fraction of the density.

    1. I’ve updated the graphic using circle area instead of circle diameter. 

      For density, I went to the Wikipedia article for each city and grabbed population and land area (if available) and made my own calculation. These are the figures I used:

      Paris – 2,211,297
      London – 7,825,200
      Montreal – 1,620,693

      Land Area
      Paris – 40.7 square miles
      London – 607 (this seems off). I used the figures from Greater London.
      Montreal – 140.98

      1. Thanks for clearing up the graphics. You also may want to change “density” to “population density”, as I previously thought you were comparing station densities. In fact, a comparison of station densities would actually be rather interesting to see as well, since this is such a big determinate of a bike-share’s success. My bikeshare experience in Montreal has been much better than my experience in DC because the station density is way higher in Montreal than in DC.

        1. I don’t think station density is a good measure for comparison (on this chart) because bike sharing stations work best when placed in dense areas of a city (the “service area”). Some areas may be denser than others. New York City is only planning to install stations south of 79th Street in Manhattan and in some parts of Brooklyn. 

          See NYC’s planned service area. Chicago’s proposed service area (not set in stone) is Belmont (north), Western (west), 35th Street (south), and Lake Michigan (east). So if I knew the “service area” for each bike sharing system, I would definitely make a station density. 

          1. I still think station density is rather important in addition to population density, since it ensures a convenient system. Even in the most dense cities, bikeshare won’t work very well if the stations are too far apart.

            In addition, you argue that we should limit our comparison to the parts of the city where bikeshare works well (the dense areas), yet the graphic compares cities based on their total population density, including large swaths that are not served by bikeshare and would not work well with bikeshare. Basically, it makes New York look WAY less dense in comparison to Paris and London when, in fact, the bikeshare service area for NYC is quite a bit more dense than those two. I realize that this is more difficult work for you (you’d probably need to do some GIS work, and maybe some of the data for non-US cities is hard to get), but it’s something to consider.

            Again, thanks for doing this work. I don’t mean to nitpick, but there aren’t that many good comparisons across systems, so it’d be nice to see a really good one.

          2. I’m gonna throw in “citywide station density” now. It’s easy enough. 

            I’ll also work on adding other cities. Someone on the Flickr page mentioned Mexico City and Denver. I’ll also consider Minneapolis and Madison. Although the graphic might get unwieldy with too many additions. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *