One year of I Saw You posts, mapped: Here’s where sparks are flying between Vancouverites

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      Set on meeting someone in Vancouver the “old-fashioned” way or daydream of reading a romantic I Saw You listing that describes you to a T? (Admit it: we won’t judge.)

      If so, you’ll have the best luck when frequenting the intersection of Main Street and Broadway, Gastown, English Bay, and the entirety of Commercial Drive, according to some impressive geomapping completed by one data-savvy Georgia Straight reader.  

      Aaron Licker, an admitted I Saw You fan and principal of LGeo, a local startup that transforms spatial data into accessible information for urban planners, nonprofits, and other entities, recently took on the task of geomapping almost one year’s worth of I Saw You listings. He published the results on LGeo’s blog on Thursday (February 17) and the results are pretty fascinating.

      “As most [I Saw You] posts are written in a similar fashion, we are able to extract from them: space, place, time, gender, orientation, mode of transportation and a clear sense of longing for a connection,” wrote Licker. “These data can be mapped and analysed to reveal hidden truths about our urban environment.”

      Women tend to spot people they are interested in at the intersection of Main Street and Broadway.
      Aaron Licker/LGEO.CO

      Licker gathered data from 430 I Saw You listings published between April 2016 and February 2017. After visually plotting each post’s provided location on a map of Vancouver (starting points for bus routes were mapped for posts that mentioned public transit), he found that missed connections were made most often at four distinct sites: Main and Broadway, Gastown, English Bay, and Commercial Drive.

      Interestingly, Licker found that woman-seeking-person I Saw You's were heavily concentrated at Main and Broadway, and Commercial-Broadway and Waterfront SkyTrain stations, perhaps signalling to single-and-looking-to-mingle women and men that they should be loitering in these areas more frequently.

      Man-seeking-person posts, meanwhile, displayed no clear pattern. Men appeared to be checking people out along Commercial Drive, Water Street, Granville Street, Denman Street, and 4th Avenue.

      Within this, man-seeking-man and woman-seeking-woman listings, specifically, were also fairly dispersed and not limited to LGBT–heavy hangouts such as the West End.

      Even more interesting, perhaps, is that 60 percent of the I Saw You's mapped reference bus rides.  “Men seem to really enjoy watching people they are attracted to on the bus and at SkyTrain stations,” observed Licker. “If you are a straight woman and want to get looked at by a gentleman then you should start taking the bus to Kits Beach, Stanley Park, or Commercial Drive.”

      Men displayed no clear pattern in where they were checking out others, though it seems they do enjoy watching people on public transit.
      Aaron Licker/LGEO.CO

      Speaking to the Straight by phone about his findings, Licker revealed he was surprised to see areas such as Yaletown, Kitsilano, and Vancouver’s multiple microbreweries and beaches receiving little to no action. This may be due to the fact that the people in these places—or the environments themselves—encourage conversation.

      “It’s easy to talk to someone on the beach—maybe you’re already feeling kind of happy and loose,” he says. “But it’s really hard to talk to someone on the bus.”

      He was also surprised by the sheer number of I Saw You listings that exist. "These were just the ones I could pull data out of; there were even more," he says. "It just seems like this is a good indicator of [Vancouver being] a lonely city, a lusty city, or both."

      Licker suggests that single Vancouverites could use this data to their advantage by travelling strategically or being more friendly on public transit, thus helping to combat the city's frosty reputation. “If someone’s looking at you on the bus, talk to them,” he says. “Do the normal, outward communication thing.”

      And if you’re a cyclist, there’s a place for you, too. “It seems that 10th Avenue Bikeway is a lot sexier than the Adanac Bikeway,” Licker observes.

      Check out the full results of Licker's project here. Where have you had luck with romantic encounters in Vancouver?

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