A pair of data-driven social media platforms are highlighting Lower Manhattan as a place where human-powered mobility flourishes. The first is Strava, a website and mobile app that utilizes satellite navigation to track athletic activity. Strava has tapped into the mountain of data it collects about its users’ workouts to create a “heat map” that illustrates the paths of runners, bikers and walkers. The map glows brightly along any route populated by large numbers of users, and fades to near darkness where few people run, walk, or bike.
Zooming into Lower Manhattan on this interactive atlas (which can be browsed at: labs.strava.com/heatmap/) confirms much that a resident would intuit — for example, that the Hudson and East River waterfronts are enormously popular for every kind of outdoor activity, along with Battery Park City’s Esplanade.
There is also some information that perhaps validates local transportation policy: Warren and Murray Streets are heavily used for biking between Battery Park City and the Brooklyn Bridge (apparently because they have dedicated bike lanes) while most other streets in Tribeca and the Financial District appear to be mostly avoided by cyclists.
The Strava Heat Map breaks out four kinds of athletic activity: biking, walking/running, water sports (such as swimming or kayaking), and skiing. And one thing that the Strava’s satellite data proves conclusively about Lower Manhattan is that very few people ever ski here. That noted, many hundreds of people appear to use Strava while out on the water, most likely while availing themselves of kayaking programs offered by organizations like the Downtown Boathouse.
The second source of insight about local perambulation is Walk Score, a database that maps the quality of pedestrian experiences throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia.
The company’s website https://www.redfin.com/city/30749/NY/New-York/home-values#transportation rates four Lower Manhattan neighborhoods (the Financial District, Battery Park City, Tribeca, and the South Street Seaport/Civic Center) as “walker’s paradises,” denoting a place where daily errands do not require a car.
Each area rated in the high 90s — with the exception of the Financial District, which got a perfect score of 100. Walk Score also rates neighborhoods by their access to public transit (a metric for which each community also scored 100 percent) and cycling (where each district scored in 80s, which translates as “very bikeable”).
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