Hubway Data Challenge - a healthy heart and a happier environment

Submission date: 2012-11-04

The Hubway Data Challenge

On October 27th I attended a hackathon event hosted by Bocoup in downtown Boston which was geared towards creating data visualizations of released Hubway bike sharing data. The event was centered around a data package of information for the Hubway Data Challenge, sponsored by Hubway and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

For my hackathon project I wanted to quantify in some way the impact that Hubway has had in helping to improve the health of riders while also positively impacting the environment. For the sake of simplicity and time I used generic formulas to convert the trip durations into Kilocalories burned and potential gallons of gas saved from being used by a generic motor vehicle traveling in the city. I have created a series of interactive animations, one per day, showcasing the stations used that day for trips, station usage (blips), and any crunched numbers based on trip duration.

My formulas are not perfect! I am hoping to draw attention to the personal health gains, as well as environmental benefits, provided by using bicycles as transportation. The more the Hubway system gets used, the better off everyone is, because of reasons.

Interactive animations

Here is an interactive animation of the trips from October 9th, 2011. To see any day's detail, go to the details section.

No activity Bike departed Bike returned

Data and statistics

There were 327 days of trips data in the dataset I worked with.

Hubway logo heart health gasoline pump
Total number of days: 327 Total number of trips: 550653 * Estimated calories burned: 77286527 Kcal * Estimated gas saved: 165850 gallons

Included in this data package was a dataset of trips taken on Hubway bikes, Hubway station name and location, map resources, and some other related material. There was a primary dataset which provided trip starting time and station, trip ending time and station, trip duration, and some bike and incredibly general rider details. Unfortunately, having only the station information does not provide enough to detail the route that riders took on any trip, but it can yield some interesting information that I'm hoping some of the other teams taking up the data challenge were able to come up with.

For my interactive animations I wanted to show a blip on a map when and where a bike was removed from a station, and when it was docked again later. I tallied the duration of the trips and applied a running total to each station's outbound and inbound traffic. I also applied some general formulas for calculating Kilocaloric expenditure on the part of the rider, as well as to see how many gallons of gasoline a motor vehicle might have burned for the same trip duration. I present this information in sorted inbound and outbound traffic tables below the maps, as well as individually for each station when you hover over a station on the map.

Animations and statistics details for each

Choose from this dropdown list any date in the dataset to view detailed information and view that day's animated trip and station information.

What makes Hubway such a great idea?

Here is a short list of reasons I think Hubway is a great idea. This list is incomplete, I came up with it in five minutes.

  • accommodates locals and tourists
  • riding a bike provides a healthy, low-impact workout
  • healthier people are happier
  • people who exercise regularly and eat balanced diets experience less obesity-related health issues
  • healthier communities of people put less strain on health care system and related costs
  • bikes take up less space on roads, often easing traffic congestion
  • gas is not burned, extending future availability of precious resources
  • gas is not burned, reduction in pollution being produced
  • bikes help locals explore their area, find new places to regularly spend time and $ in their community
  • bikes are often the fastest mode of transport for short distance urban trips
  • it's a wonderful backup option for people who already own their own bicycle
  • public transportation isn't as reliable as you for getting you around


Trip data supplied by Hubway, map data supplied by Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Data released as part of the 2012 Hubway data visualization challenge.

Hubway logo MAPC logo

Fine Print
  • Trips under four hours long are displayed in the map above, trips that lasted more than four hours were removed as outliers for the purposes of this demonstration.
  • Expenditure of Kilocalories estimated based on duration of ride at estimated 12 MPH (max intended speed of a Hubway bike), per Wolfram Alpha: 466 Kcal/hr.
  • Gasoline usage estimated as an average of 20mph and 20mpg, or 1 gallon per hour.

All estimates were used with best intention of showing the positive health and environmental impact, and should not be used as official values. The intent of this visualization is to demonstrate that Hubway bikes provide a benefit to riders on an individual and collective level.



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