Across the globe, Strava users record not only their weekend rides, but also their everyday trips to work, to school and to run errands. For Metro partners, these trips can be invaluable to understanding how existing bike lanes and infrastructure are serving the needs of the communities they serve, and to identify where new investment might be needed.
Commute activities are growing in popularity on Strava, so much so that in some places they are the majority of the rides recorded. According to the 2018 Year in Sport, in the United States, Strava members uploaded over 11 million bike commutes (year over year increase of 30.8%), and 3.6 million run commutes (year over year increase of 56.8%) This makes sense, because we make essential trips much more often than leisure ones — unless we’re on vacation or only ride for leisure, of course.
We decided to analyze four cities around the world to get a flavor of the commute activity on Strava.
In Singapore, 61.5% of 1 million rides last year were commutes. Meanwhile, in Cook County, Illinois, the home of the city of Chicago, more than 80% are commutes. In places with lots of commute activity, we can see familiar patterns in these activities — such as morning and evening peaks that correspond to the most common times people start and finish work or school. We also see seasonal variations, since in some places very low or very high temperatures can make it tough to travel by bike at certain times of the year.
How easy it is to commute by bike also varies widely depending on where you live, where you need to get to, the availability of infrastructure to improve safety, such as protected bike lanes or paths, and overall how ‘stressful’ the ride is.
What is a commute?
Planners and communities around the world each have their own definitions of what a commute is, depending on the focus of their work, and at Metro we provide insights that are flexible according to those needs. In general, though, we classify any utilitarian trip — to work, school, home or an errand — as a “commute”, as they are trips that would otherwise have been taken in a car or via public transit.
On Strava, members can easily tag their activities as commutes in order to better represent the purpose of their trips.
Since not all Strava members use the commute tag — and definitions of a commute vary — we can use a variety of other techniques to identify these trips. For instance, using the straight-line distance between the latitudes & longitudes of where a trip begins and where it ends. When that distance is greater than 1 kilometer, that activity is likely a commute. In order to exclude false positives such as long point-to-point races, we can further filter for long-distance rides that would be indicative of a non-utilitarian trip. Meanwhile, the trips that community members have tagged commutes serve as an essential ground truth to validate and improve different models we use over time.
Celebrating and improving commutes
Metro partners learn a lot about their community members’ needs by exploring commute data, but Strava is also here to help improve the commuting experience for commuters themselves. You can plan your commute route using the Strava route builder tool, and get suggested paths based on the most popular routes taken by other riders. We’re also exploring ways to better demonstrate the impact that Strava members’ sustainable commuting has on our world — such as reducing the number of cars on the road and the amount of carbon emitted. Tweet us your great commuting stories and suggestions @stravametro.