How strongly beats the heart of cycling in New York City? See for yourself by logging onto a real time visualization of Citi Bike share use (screen shot above) and pressing the “Animation” button on the control panel. Then watch the pulse of corpuscle-like circles representing 48 hours of activity at the more than 300 docking stations on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn. They expand and contract with bike usage, changing hues along a color gradient representing the number of bikes available.

While the official Citi Bike online map and mobile app are the ways to go for everyday route planning, the drill-down data and visualization options on this site yield a fascinating meta view of New York’s newest transportation option. And the graphic appeal of the animation? Think lava lamp for the power to mesmerize.

To switch to a consistently updated snapshot of the number of bikes available at any docking station, using Citi Bike data, just click the button labeled “Live Version.” The box that pops up also provides a graph of 24-hour usage history for that station. Note that a station with a solid outline on the map is full. The control panel also lists the total number of docking stations, the number of stations that are full and empty, the number of docks, the dock load and the number of bikes in docks.

While you’re at it, you can check in on the Barclays Cycle Hire in London or Nice Ride in Minneapolis. New York City’s is only the latest addition to 89 bike share systems worldwide that you can monitor via this site.

It was created by Olivier O’Brien, a researcher and software developer at the Centre for Advanced Spacial Analysis, known by its more user-friendly acronym CASA, at University College London. In addition to his work on new ways to visual spacial data, O’Brien is contributing to a project called OpenStreetMap, which seeks to create a Wiki-style map of the world. Click here to view tech specs for the bike share site.

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