Painting via Bike: “It’s all about the Strava Heatmap”

For awhile I’ve been thinking about generating some Strava artwork based on my own personal heat map. I’ve seen people design some pretty unique drawings, like the famous Thanksgiving turkey route transposed over San Francisco streets.



For my purposes, I want to have ridden enough streets within NYC to be able to create a rendering of an image that actually looks like NYC solely with my own heat maps. I’m a Strava Premium member, so I can generate heat maps via their site. However, there is a great site from Jonathan O’Keefe¬†where you can enter your Strava account credentials and it will create a heat map for you where you can adjust how opaque the map appears, how many pixels wide the route should look, etc… The instructions are pretty intuitive and the final product in my case looked like this:


As you can see above, there’s a lot more that needs to be done to shade in upper/ lower Manhattan, most of Brooklyn, the central part of Queens, parts of the Bronx, Staten Island – you get the idea. I also tend to take the same streets. I.e. Kent Avenue to Flushing to Vanderbilt, Queensboro Bridge, Riverside Drive / WSG, GWB, etc…

Today I decided to take a trip out to 20th avenue in Queens, near Laguardia Airport. I essentially went up and down a handful of streets, one by one. This trip only was an hour of riding (plus time allotted for stop lights). It was decently windy and relatively warm (46 degrees) outside.

RFK Bridge in the distance.





Overlooking some planes on the runway at Laguardia.


I also tried to make it up over the Riker’s Island Bridge – always on the search for that unique blog content, but as soon as I made it to the police checkpoint the guards signaled that I should turn around and told me I couldn’t go further. I wanted to snap a picture of the bridge, but I just thanked them and told them to have a good day ahead. The rest of the ride was pretty plain, though I will say I’m pleasantly surprised by the DOT’s implementation of the parking protected greenway on 20th avenue as well as the greenway that passes right by Astoria Park.


It seems to me like the turnaround time on these greenways has been improving over the past year and a half. If you look at the date on the bottom of that link, the study was presented to Queens CB 1 on January 19th, 2016. For what it’s worth, around July 12th, the 20th avenue greenway was almost fully functional. However, it was plagued by cars not respecting the sanctity of the bike lane. Granted, at the time, the DOT hadn’t gotten a chance to paint the new infrastructure with the iconic green paint.



Some construction on the side of the lane, as of today.


On the edge of Astoria Park, looking at the Hell Gate Bridge

All in all, this was the first installment one “Painting via Bike.” I will make a point of introducing more unique content as I look to fill in my Strava heat map artwork. If there are any specific places you’d like to see before others, please feel free to let me know in the comment section. I’m thinking of taking a route to circumnavigate the entire island of Manhattan on our next mild weekend day.

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