Examining The Differences In Bike Riding Between 12 Major Cities

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Originally published on Bikocity.

What’s the “best” major city to go for a bike ride in? Which cities are the worst? In some ways, those are very subjective questions. To provide some new insight on the matter, though, a new analysis of data collected through the GPS-tracking workout app Strava was performed in order to create “snapshots” of the activity in 12 different major cities around the world.

The analysis made use of 136 billion data points (focused on everything from rider speed, to routes taken, to time of day, etc) from more than 1 million active Strava service users. So, what are the findings of the analysis?

Out of the 12 cities examined, Amsterdam, was home to the longest rides (on average) and to the fastest average speeds (15.9 miles/hour) as well. Other cities with high average speeds included: Melbourne (14.9 mph), Paris (14.7 mph), and Sydney (14.4 mph).

london nyc

Here’s more (courtesy of Vox):

Which cities log the most rides? While a factor in the final tally is the number of users actively tracking their rides, the overall numbers still have London beating every other city by a long shot. With more than 7 million rides logged over the past 12 months, London dwarfs even the closest runner-up cities: Amsterdam (2.7 million total activities), Melbourne (2.3 million total activities), and Los Angeles (2.2 million total activities).

…Biking to work is on the rise across the US, and of the American cities profiled, regular commutes account for roughly 40% of logged rides. The maps also show well-traversed bicycle commuter corridors, often with protected or separated bicycle lane. New Yorkers predominantly use the 32-mile Hudson River Greenway to get down the island and major avenues like First and Second, while the bridges provide a channel to commute into the city from Brooklyn. San Francisco, with the most average daily commuters of the US cities, also sticks to arterial roads such as Market Street and follow established routes such as the San Francisco Bay Trail. And Los Angeles, with the longest average commuting distance, takes advantage of the wide streets such as Seventh, Main, and Grand Avenue, as well as a partial bike lane along Sunset Boulevard.

NY_commute SF_commute

It should probably be remembered that, while Strava user analysis gives us some insight into general bicycle use trends… there are quite a lot of people (and groups of people) who bike but don’t use the app. So, take these findings with a grain of salt.

Reprinted with permission.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

3 thoughts on “Examining The Differences In Bike Riding Between 12 Major Cities

  • Something is very biased with this data.
    952 daily commuters in NYC?
    2134 daily commuters in San Francisco?
    US census data from 2010 said 3.4% of San Francisco workers commute by bike out of 435000 so say 15,000 per day. And all figures are up a lot since 2010 so maybe 20,000 now?


    And average distance in SF of 9.4 miles? City is only 7 or 8 miles across.

    Strava heat maps are really cool I will say. But strava is very biased toward recreational riding and the huge inconsistencies above would support that. So, as the article says, take it with a grain of salt.

  • This is crap. For one, Strava is for cyclists who identify themselves as active in sport. In Amsterdam the moms on a bakfiets get a great workout but they would not think of logging their rides on Strava. Furthermore there is no correction for the number of inhabitants of the cities. London: 8 million people. Amsterdam 880.000 people. Some basic math makes it clear that the people ride their bikes more in Amsterdam by a huge margin. Really, cycling in Amsterdam totally dwarfs that in London. The raw numbers as presented here suggest the opposite.

    • Yes. And “average” distance ridden in Amsterdam on a ride is 27 miles? At 15mph? Maybe on the weekend rides for a few people but not daily commuters on those cool Dutch steel bikes for sure. Same problem as the San Francisco or NYC data.

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