Watch How Traffic Flows in America’s Biggest Cities With These Mesmerizing Animations

It’s the most beautiful vision of rush-hour gridlock we’ve ever seen.

byEric Brandt|
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You know how traffic in big cities is awful and everyone hates it? Well thanks to Drivemode—the team behind a neat app that simplifies the major functions of your mounted smartphone so you can stay focused on the road—we've got some neat visual aids to show us exactly how and where traffic ebbs and flows throughout the day in the biggest metropolises around.

Drivemode gathered location data from its users (anonymized, thankfully) and made a series of time-lapse animations videos as a cool new way to visualize the flow of traffic. Let’s take a look at what the flow of cars looks like in America’s four largest cities.

New York City’s morning commute is tied with that of San Francisco for the one that starts the latest in the day of the 11 cities studied, with peak morning traffic coming on at 7:31 am. Not surprisingly, NYC traffic appears to stay pretty steadily busy throughout the workday with a gradual upswing through the afternoon with evening traffic peaking at 4:57 pm.

The day starts a bit earlier in Los Angeles with morning traffic peaking at 6:57 am. The traffic flow throughout the day in the City of Angels is pretty similar to that of NYC, but with higher volumes. In the video, you can see the huge area where the busiest traffic is spread out with thinner traffic going in and out of the greater metro area.

Chicago traffic doesn’t appear to be quite as dispersed as NYC or LA. It looks like a lot of folks in the Windy City have fair regular commute times, with big chunks at the beginning and end of the workday and and relatively clear roads in between. Chicago residents are up bright and early with peak morning traffic happening at 6:23 am and the long day ending at 4:57 pm—tying with Boston for the longest workday according to these stats.

Houston traffic is similar to Chicago traffic but appears to be a bit busier between the beginning and end of the workday. Houston and Chicago both have similar spikes at later in the evening as well, which is apparently when a lot of people are leaving work. For Houston residents, the morning drive starts at 7:12 am and the evening commute commences at 4:57.

“Like fireworks lighting up a night sky, this artful view of metropolitan driving trends reminds us that there is more to our travels than just miles logged and minutes clocked,” Yo Koga, CEO and founder of Drivemode, said in a release. “There is unique beauty in how communties move through space and time, and we are delighted that Drivemode data can illuminate that beauty.”

A bit flowery, sure, but it is pretty cool how Drivemode managed to take something as dull as traffic statistics and turn them into something that’s mesmerizing to watch. And next time you're sitting angrily in traffic, remember—one day, a data company might turn your rush hour misery into a beautiful beam of light.

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