Hubway: Connecting College Campuses in the Boston/Cambridge Area

(Download full-size graphic on Dropbox)

By Tricia Shi, Sean Soni, Kimberly Yu, Margaret Yu

The data say that Hubway is often used to get from one college campus to another.  We want to tell this story because we believe that connecting college campuses promotes the exchange of knowledge and culture.  We also want to encourage people to bike, as there are positive environmental effects, and Cambridge and Boston are consistently ranked as top cities to bike in.

We pulled ride information from the public Hubway dataset for hundreds of thousands of Hubway rides in the Boston/Cambridge area from 2011 to 2013.  We then identified stations located on various college campuses and grouped them by campus.  After deciding to focus on 5 of the colleges in the immediate Boston/Cambridge area with on-campus Hubway stations – Harvard, MIT, Emerson, Northeastern, and Boston University – we examined traffic flow patterns between these campuses.

Our infographic contains several graphs, the first of which is a chord diagram. Our primary purpose was to show the relative flow of traffic among all five campuses, and a chord diagram works nicely for this, as it allows the reader to visualize the amount of traffic.  This chart contributes to our primary message by showing that people around MIT use Hubway significantly more than any other campus in the area.  We used MIT school colors to show MIT’s flow, and made the colors of other schools almost grayscale because a common problem with a chord diagram is that the colors are not distributed fairly.

The bottom bike wheel shows that a good portion of people use Hubway outside of school or work hours, which may encourage others to do the same.  We follow this with two simple pictogram charts. The first shows that MIT is the most popular campus as a Hubway destination, and the second provides some ideas about where a potential cyclist may bike to from a college campus. The radial bar graph shows the most popular destinations from MIT, which are possibly of interest to the reader.  Finally, the last graphic shows some routes that have never been taken, and dares the bold to try something new.