Hoboken, NJ, has been striving to make itself more bike friendly. To that end, it deployed a bike share system in 2015, operated by Hudson Bike Share. This system fills a useful niche, providing a convenient option for the last mile of transportation — quite literally in Hoboken’s one square mile.
Hudson Bike Share (what I like to call “HUBS”) makes their trip data available on a quarterly basis.
(Note: The dataset accidentally omitted the end of each quarter. These figures will be updated when the complete dataset is made available.)
HUBS uses NextBike technology. Like the Social Bicycles used in Hoboken’s 2013 bike share pilot program, this technology is different from systems like Motivate (used next door and across the river by CitiBike). Each bike has its own GPS and locking system. This means that stations are only geofenced areas. HUBS has installed racks specific to its bike, but they are not required to finish a trip the way CitiBike requires the bike be docked in a rack. The bike only has to be within the geofenced location and can be locked to itself (a bar goes through the fork and front wheel). This is especially helpful for riders because there is never a situation where a dock is full and they can always end the trip exactly where they want to.
This also means that a trip can be ended anywhere. The dataset provided includes these trips, with the start or stop station being listed as the bike itself. Unfortunately, with the provided data, there’s no way to know where such trips started from or stopped.
From October 2015 through December 2016, riders took 169,482 total trips, with a clear peak during warmer weather.
As expected, the weather has an impact in ridership, but even on a 16°F, snowy day there were intrepid riders out-and-about. In fact, the only days that had zero trips were days the system was not operating because of storm conditions.
Looking at the trips by hour of week, there are clear commuting and recreation patterns. Weekdays show rush hour spikes in the morning and evening, while weekends have higher midday volume.
There are currently 34 stations, including the “virtual” ones. The behavior patterns are even more clear looking at the specific destinations by time of the week, and highlight how multi-modal Hoboken is. There is a surge of trips ending at the Hoboken Terminal on weekday mornings, and a surge of trips starting from there in the evenings. The bike share system is a useful companion method to taking the PATH into New York City.
Grouping the trip destinations into five categories, Hoboken Terminal, ferry terminal, waterfront, Washington St., and others, we can see how the system is used on a relative basis.
Grouping the trips by “route”, essentially all possible pairs of stations in the system, we can see in more detail where people are coming from and going to. 547 routes have been used, out of 561 possible in 34 stations. This doesn’t include any trips that ended outside of a station area. This also doesn’t tell us where the bikes actually go in between these start and end points, though Hudson Bike Share has released heatmaps using their GPS data in the past.
The waterfront is particularly popular, from 14th Street to Pier A and back, reinforcing the value of the new protected segment of the walkway along the Union Dry Dock facility.
Most trips are fairly short, under 15 minutes and typically within the 6–10 minute range. Hoboken’s scale and terrain is perfect for these kinds of quick trips, either as a primary mode for getting around within Hoboken, or as a complement to the PATH or ferries.
Trips can also be categorized by type, round trip or one-way, which gives some idea of recreation usage versus transportation. They can also be matched with other trips by start, end, and time, showing “joint” trips that presumably are people riding together. So far there have been 5,947 rides with two or more bikes. Without seeing the actual GPS tracks, it’s impossible to say for sure these trips are riders traveling together, but it’s a reasonable assumption. Weekends show a larger share of joint trips than weekdays.
As for the actual bikes, they have seen quite a bit of usage. Understandably, some can be soundcite:a little bit creaky. Most bikes have taken at least 500 trips since the system began, with some seeing over 1,000 trips. The system has had 247 bikes in operation so far.
While I would like to get my hands on the actual GPS tracks from each trip and really dive into the geospatial aspects, and have a way to associate trips by a user, there are obvious privacy implications of making that available. Hopefully Hudson Bike Share releases a heatmap showing popular routes.