Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Maps of Barcelona bicycle traffic flow

During May 2012 the first European Cycling Challenge was celebrated through Endomondo platform: In this challenge, cities around Europe were competing to see which one was able to cycle more miles during May 2012. The challenge was launched by the city of Bologna and was partly co-financed by the CIVITAS Mimosa.

In this first edition only 7 cities took part in it, with a final ranking of Tallinn (Estonia), Bulåggna (Bologna) (Italy), Barcelona (Catalonia), Reading (UK), Iași (Romania), San Lâzer (San Lazzaro di Savena) (Italy) and Saronikos (Greece). So Barcelona, with nearly 300 participants and 16,000 km ridden, was in the third position.

The main interest was to record the common routes by commuters, which could help to design better cyclist infraestructures. Finally, last week were published the data of the routes for Barcelona in Google Fusion.

As Google Fusion is a limited GIS platform, and I'm a geologist with GIS skills, I performed my GIS analysis with some powerfull software (mainly ArcGIS). Here are the results.

The maps

All maps represent the same data, but representation is important when you are working with big data (in this case, 750,000 points). I only worked with data of the municipality of Barcelona (1,6 million), about 500,000-600,000 points.

The first map is a linear color representation of maximum and minimum density:

Malla bici Barcelona EU Cycling 2012 (lineal mínim-màxim)

But normally this is affected by extreme values, so it's better to apply colors using standard deviations to obtain a balanced result. First, in black and white:

Malla bici Barcelona EU Cycling 2012 (blanc i negre)

Second, in color:

Malla bici Barcelona EU Cycling 2012 (Desviacions estàndards)

And here a Histogram equalize:

Malla bici Barcelona EU Cycling 2012 (Equalització Histograma)

Google Earth

You can see all these maps in Google Earth (kmz download), in order to recognize streets and the city orography:

Malla bici Barcelona EU Cycling 2012 (Google Earth 2)

Malla bici Barcelona EU Cycling 2012 (Google Earth)

Maps are quite similar to the official city council map of bicycle traffic flow, but with notable differences.


Representativity of the data could be questioned (you need a smartphone, you have to sign in in Endomondo, there were only 300 participants, etc.) but my 7 years of daily cycling experience says to me that maps are quite good.

Bicycle users concentrate in the old Pla de Barcelona (Barcelona plain), outside the old city and now ocuppied by the districts of Eixample (265,000 inhabitants), Gràcia (125,000) and Sant Martí (225,000). The main route is Diagonal Avenue between the squares of Francesc Macià and Glòries Catalanes (Eixample-Gràcia border). The second cyclist center is arround Espanya Square, with Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and Paral·lel Avenue. That's a bit surprising, but it connects the Zona Franca industrial area (with not very much public transportation) and l'Hospitalet de Llobregat, the second largest Catalan city which forms, indeed, an urban continuum with Barcelona city on the left of the maps. Finally, the streets of Consell de Cent and Diputació are the complementary routes to cross the Eixample district.

Other important routes are also the beach front, the Meridiana avenue (which connects to the district/town of Sant Andreu), and in, and around, the old city: Rambles, Via Laietana and Ronda Sant Pere.

It would be very interesting if the city council extended this methology in the future, complemented with the traditional bicycle counters in main streets. It provides a very valuable information.

Have a nice Barcelona. And remember, don't buy any Mexican hat here as a souvenir. We are Catalans, not Mexicans ;-)