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Infographic: Whose Commute Is Worse, Yours or Your Neighbor’s?

Berkeley’s Harry Kao maps drive times.

Ah, commutes. People never tire of boasting how long theirs is; it’s a sort of working-stiff badge of honor. And now, there’s a handy visualization to prove just how much you suffer compared to everyone else.

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Berkeley designer and engineer Harry Kao created an interactive map that plots people’s commutes by zip code. (Try it out! It includes most cities in America.) It tells you who’s commuting where and how much time they’re frittering away in the car. Red dots represent zip codes. Blue lines represent the route. The data’s sortable by drivers? original and final destinations.

[Click to go to interactive version]

So above, we’ve got a map of commutes to my alma mater, UCLA. Click on any of the red dots to find out what percentage of people who schlep to the university live in that zip code (below, Echo Park). It also tells you how long the drive takes and gives the average commute to UCLA from all zip codes combined, so you know precisely how you and your neighborhood stack up to everyone else.

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[Click to go to interactive version]

Then you’ve got a bar chart at the upper right showing where most UCLA commuters live (Echo Park is No. 1). Below that, there’s a distribution graph of commute times. Apparently, 91 percent of people driving to UCLA spend less than 30 minutes in the car. Yeah, right! It used to take me that long just to cross Santa Monica and Wilshire.

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[Above: a map of commutes from UCLA. Pretty spare. That’s because no one wants to live in Westwood, unless they go to school there.]

Turns out, the data’s a bit old. So the absolute figures shouldn’t be taken as holy writ, though we assume relative times are still mostly accurate — which means whatever bragging rights you’ve got on the World’s Worst Commute remain. And, of course, it’s always fun to spy on other people’s commutes — your boss’s, say.

This is the second voyeuristic visualization we’ve seen in recent weeks. See here for a map of migration patterns to and from New York, complete with intimate reasons for moving (new job, relationship, bedbugs, etc.).

Are infographics the new peeping toms?

[Via FlowingData]

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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