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More data goodness for Chicago: TIFs, vacant and abandoned buildings

Derek Eder emailed me to tell me about two web applications he created based on Google Fusion Tables and its API (application programming interface, basically a question and answer program for designers and programmers to interact with).

He created searchable/filterable maps for TIF districts (tax increment financing, the Chicago mayor’s pet project bank account) and vacant and abandoned buildings. Both use data straight from the City of Chicago.

Screenshot of the Derek Eder’s TIF district web application.

Essentially, the web applications work like this (in case you want to build one yourself):

  • Load the data into Google Fusion Tables (this is very easy)
  • Build a custom interface on your own website (not so easy)
  • Hook into the Fusion Tables API to load the data into your custom interface

As for me, I might look into building a custom interface on my website, but right now I’m going to create a pedestrian crash map for Chicago using Polymaps, a Javascript library. I specifically want to use the k-Means Clustering to show crash hotspots. We already know where they are based on a 2007 report from the University of North Carolina – see that map here.

These markings are intended to reduce the number of pedestrian crashes by increasing the walking person’s visibility.

What’s doing for bikes in cities around the United States

A Steven can plan reader asked in the open thread for more information about the results of bike-friendly infrastructure changes and treatments happening in Portland, San Francisco, and New York City, among other places. While I work to get that information for this blog, I thought I would point out the Miami Herald’s summary of those bicycle as transportation changes in cities across the United States.

From the EarthTalk column:

In September, central Tennessee (Nashville and environs) adopted an ambitious plan to add upwards of 1,000 miles of bike paths (also 750 miles of sidewalks) across seven counties, a scheme that won the “best project” award from the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Nashville itself will increase alternative transportation spending from 0.5 percent to 15 percent of its transportation budget, and hopes to reduce traffic congestion and obesity – Tennessee has the nation’s second highest rate of obesity – in the process.

A new two-way neighborhood cycle track that allows for two-way bike traffic on a one-way street. I’m not yet sure of how it works but it looks neat. Photo by Jonathan Maus. Read more about this innovative bike boulevard and green street treatment at BikePortland.org.

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