Boston’s Weather Warriors, by Scott Gilman and Jay Dev

The data say that most Hubway riders keep riding through adverse weather conditions like rain and heat. We want to tell this story because we want to celebrate Hubway riders’ resilience and illustrate how important biking and Hubway is to life in Boston.

Our data sources included all Hubway trips taken between 2015 and 2017 (excluding December 2016), and the weather (high temperature and precipitation events) for every day in that time period.  Our presentation starts with a hook: an appeal to Boston’s hometown pride through giving several examples of the city’s tough character and the map of Boston in the background. We then present a surprising fact that illustrates this – there are more Hubway trips taken on average when it’s over 90 degrees, and then compare this with behavior in other kinds of weather. Then, we look at a similar story through a different lens – average trip duration. Through these sections, we use easily recognizable icons to tie the graphs into the story – bike icons for the average number of trip pictographs, and stopwatches as pie charts to illustrate average trip duration. This fits into our framing of the fact that trip duration doesn’t change as a result of weather as “We don’t cut corners”. Using the Hubway color palette is also a visual language that our intended audience will associate with biking.

Furthermore, using the first-person plural and a casual tone in our narrative fosters the sense of community that we are trying to convey. Our final chart, which compares the viewer’s average ride duration in different weather with the average Hubway users, also encourages viewers to think of themselves as part of the Boston biking community and makes the data that we present more relatable by providing a personal point of comparison.

There are several stories that we considered but decided to leave out. For example, we looked at ridership of snowy days, which is lower than ridership on rainy or hot days but not all that different from the winter normal. However, we didn’t want to introduce another baseline of comparison which might make interpreting the charts and narrative more difficult. Telling the story of biking in the snow would be best suited for its own presentation. We also did not tell the story of gender in different weather. Similarly to age, the gender composition of riders did not change across different weather types, but we found this less surprising than the fact that the age distribution did not change. Finally, we also did an analysis of how origin and destination stations change in different weather but found (aside from those closed in winter) that they did not change all that much, which suggests riders are still going where they need to go. Ultimately, though, we decided that the duration piece told that story in a more comprehensible and relatable way.

The last section of the web page invites users to sign in to their Hubway account, so that they can compare how long they have spent biking in different biking conditions.