A newly released map answers a question that most New Yorkers have asked at some point or another: Which is faster: a bike or a cab? Created by software developer, Todd W. Schneider, the interactive map allows users to select a starting point and time, and then displays when taking a Citi Bike would be the faster option versus taking a taxi (or vice versa).
Interactive map with red indicating the starting point at Gramercy. Image via Todd W. Schneider
The map is color-coded with yellow signifying the taxi and dark blue signifying the Citi Bike. If it’s faster to reach a certain neighborhood by Citi Bike, the area will be colored blue or blueish-green; similarly, if a taxi is the swifter choice, then those areas will be colored greenish-blue to yellow.
For instance, if you’re commuting from Fort Greene, Brooklyn to your workplace in Union Square between the rush hours of 8 am to 11 am, the map shows that a taxi’s median time is 29:48 and a Citi Bike’s median time is 31:42. A taxi would beat a Citi Bike 60 percent of the time.
Additionally, taxis beat Citi Bikes traveling longer distances. For example, when traveling from Long Island City/Hunters Point in Queens to Union Square between the hours of 7 pm and 10 pm, a taxi would beat a Citi Bike 91 percent of the time, with the taxi ride being a little over 11 minutes shorter.
Chart summarizing weekday trips between 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM. Courtesy of Todd. W. Schneider
According to Schneider’s calculations, however, utilizing a Citi Bike for crosstown travel through Manhattan should be seriously considered. After dividing Manhattan into crosstown zones (depicted in the chart above), he discovered that traveling between 42nd and 59th Streets at midday would be a faster trip on a Citi Bike than in a taxi over 70 percent of the time.
In fact, during the scope of Schneider’s research, which spanned between the years 2009 to 2017, taxis have gotten 17 percent slower. He used a trip from Midtown East to Union Square as an example, claiming that the trip in 2017 is slower than it was back in 2009. On the other hand, Citi Bikes have not shown the same slowdown.
Image via Todd Schneider
“I estimate that 40% of weekday taxi trips within the Citi Bike service area would expect to be faster if switched to a Citi Bike, based on data from July 2016 to June 2017,” Schneider writes. “During peak midday hours, more than 50% of taxi trips would expect to be faster as Citi Bike rides.”
There are several variables that go into determining the speed of a taxi ride versus a Citi Bike ride, but the gist is that bikes are more “nimble” in certain situations like road closures or bad weather. However, this research does not claim that Citi Bikes are wholly better, because if everyone were to decide to switch to bikes, it would only transfer the congestion problem from roads to bike lanes.
For now, this map includes neighborhoods in Manhattan, North Brooklyn and portions of western Queens.