The Dance of a NYC Taxi

I came across this (mesmerizing) visualization by Chris Whong that tracks the daily slog of New York City cabbies (↬ CityLab).

Photo: Hendrik Terbeck|Flickr

Photo: Hendrik Terbeck | Flickr

In any other situation, I could care less about how a NYC taxi travels but I’ll be moving to the area soon (well, Brooklyn), and my trip to the city at the end of June left me a bit curious about the masters of those yellow city crawlers.

While sitting on the bus, circling around Penn Station to find a drop off point, I was watching the cabbies maneuver around the streets.

The first thing that came to my mind were all the tweets I keep seeing about Vision Zero, but then I was taken aback a little by the elegance in the drivers’ movements. The almost effortless swerving and worming of their way between the lanes, sandwiching themselves precariously close to the cars in front of them.

There were a few times I thought for sure the cabbie had made contact with its neighboring car. But no. Not even the faded lane stripes fazed these masters of the city streets.

Every nook and cranny, every open space was taken advantage of by these swarming boxes of yellow.

As Whong’s visualization shows, there’s almost a dance to being a NYC taxi driver. A type of choreography perhaps, or improvisation only the cabbie knows about. How do they do it? Because all I know is that when I’m hauling my stuff in a U-haul, it won’t be pretty or elegant.


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