Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 17th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
The Priceonomics Blog has delved deep into their bicycle price guide to rank cities according to (among other things) a "Fixie Index." The blog searches and then compiles pricing information from "millions of listings" on the web including eBay and Craigslist.
Since "Fixies (fixed gear bikes) are considered to be a strong indicator of hipsterness," writes the blog's author Rohin Dhar, they decided to run the numbers and see which cities would come out on top.
According to their analysis, the city that came out on top wasn't Portland (much to their surprise):
By mining our database of 1.3 million bicycle listings, we can tell what are the largest markets for used bicycles, how the prices vary by region, and where people who prize fixed gear bikes live.
The blog ran the numbers nationwide for the number of fixies per capita and the winner was... San Francisco. That surprised them:
Before we ran the numbers, we were pretty sure the answer would be Portland. San Franciscans (which we are) take a particular delight in being weird, but not being quite as weird as the people from Portland. This seemed like a great opportunity to point out “hey we like these impractical but cool bikes in San Francisco, but we haven’t taken it too far like those misguided folks out in Portland."
The results put Portland solidly mid-pack.
They then ranked cities according to the overall size of their "bicycle market" (the number of bikes for sale). San Francisco came out on top; but after adjusting the data for population, Portland ended up third (behind Bend and Boulder).
They also ran the numbers through several other datasets and came up with some interesting results. They even looked into the median price of bikes being sold and ended up debunking a widely read 2009 Freakonomics article that said Portland had fallen victim to "bike inflation."
In the end, Mr. Dhar hilariously concludes that, "Unfortunately the data did not comply with our desire to tease the people of Portland," and that, "Despite our best efforts to paint Portland as a bunch of hipster bike snobs, the data simply does not support such a conclusion. The people of Portland just seem to really like bicycles, but not ones that are particularly expensive or difficult to pedal up hills."
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