Friday, April 25, 2014

Backpedaling on our NEVER bike to a full station tweet

N766AN had this comment about our post on how long, on average, filled stations stay filled:
“I disagree, I would always ride to the station regardless. It won't take 3.2 hours for someone in Manhattan to pick up a bike at that station, in practice someone already did, and worst case you ride a couple of blocks to the next (less convenient) station.”

To a certain extent, N76 is right.  There are stations that seem to go this way  -- fill, 1 out, fill, one out, fill again -- in what looks like nanoseconds.  Here’s an example from this morning’s survey:

ExampleOfA1r  2014-04-25 09.53.21.png
From right to left = most recent to 24 hours ago
See what we mean? E27AndOne is a three-hour succession of in and outs of a mostly filled station. The way we do things, E27AndOne goes down as NotSpot and we check at the end of the day to see how long it stayed a NotSpot.

But we consider it a NotSpot because it’s not a reliable station. In a follow-up comment, N76 writes “ if I'm willing to wait 10 minutes or so…”

We say that boat don’t float.

If a bike hasn’t departed in the time it takes to dismount, unglove, fish out the phone, unspotify, open app and find another spot for this hunk of metal suddenly chained to my ankle, then I’m gone.

If a bike departs while I'm in that process, I’m not only good looking, I’m a Lucky Man and this is a Beautful Day. At least that’s the kind of rider we’re producing this blog for.

That said, our method of collecting data on stations that are empty or filled completely ignores those stations that go down for less than an hour. Back to the chart. E27AndOne went empty for about 30 minutes at 14 hours from the right. We didn't count that as a NotSpot.

But it was too glib of us to say NEVER head for a station that is full when you start your ride. To a certain extent, bike sharing in NYC is like riding the rapids. You can make good speed if you know how to shoot the chute.

More properly we should have found a Twitter way to say: don’t do it if you’re not familiar with your destination station.

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