Wanna know how many cars were measured to pass by on a street near you (in Chicago)?
Want to know how wide a street is?
Want to do this without leaving your house?
1. Find the “ADT” (average daily traffic) for roads in Chicago on the city’s Traffic Tracker website. Average is a misnomer, though, because that implies more than one count has been taken or estimate has been made. The last time the city counted cars in Chicago was 2006; I imagine the difference in counts taken this year would be statistically significant (meaning any differences would not be by chance or random).
To find a location in Traffic Tracker:
- You can pan and zoom the map until you find it, or you can select one street and then select an intersection street and click the magnifying glass.
- Then click the checkbox next to Traffic Signals.
- Click on a green dot (with number label) to find direction counts and the count date.
Okay, now let’s measure the street width.
Google Earth and Maps have this tool. For Google Earth, it’s as simple as finding the ruler tool in the toolbar, selecting your units, and then clicking on the start and end points. The distance will also be displayed live as you move your cursor.
Finding the distance in Google Maps has a few more steps:
- Turn on the measurement tool, in Maps Labs. Go to Google Maps and click “Maps Labs” at the bottom of the left pane.
- In the popup dialog pane, click the radio button next to “Enable” for Distance Measurement Tool.
- Click Save Changes.
- Find the street you want to measure.
- Click the ruler button in the lower left corner of the map.
- Click one side of the street and then click the other side of the street. You can keep clicking to get distances of a polyline (a multi-segmented line) that you draw.
- Change the map units to your desire (there are tens of archaic ones available).
Now you’ve got two more tools with which to arm yourself in understanding your streets and your neighborhood.