ChicagoCrashes dot org was, for many years, the only source for people to get information about traffic crashes in Chicago. I started it in 2011.
It was updated annually with data from two years ago, because of how the Illinois Department of Transportation processed the reports from all over the state. I shut it down because it had outdated code, I was maintaining it in my free time, and I didn’t want to update the code or spend all the time every year integrating the new data.
In 2015, the Chicago Police Department started testing an electronic crash reporting system in some districts that meant police officers could write reports and they would immediately show up in a public database (in the city’s data portal). The CPD expanded this to all districts in September 2017. (A big caveat to using the new dataset is that it has citywide data for only four and a half years.)
Since then, whenever someone asked me for crash data (mostly from John to illustrate Streetsblog Chicago articles), I would head to the data portal and grab data from just the block or intersection where someone had recently been injured or killed. I would load the traffic crash data into QGIS and visualize it. I found this also to be painstaking.
Now, with renewed attention on the common and unfixed causes of KSIs (“industry” term for killed or seriously injured) that we’re seeing repeatedly across Chicago – read about the contributing cause of Gerardo Marciales’s death – I decided to relaunch a version of Chicago Crash Browser.
The new version doesn’t have a name, because it’s part of the “Transportation Snapshot” in Chicago Cityscape, the real estate information platform I operate. It’s also behind a paywall, because that’s how Chicago Cityscape is built.
I wanted to make things a lot easier for myself this round and it comes with a lot of benefits:
- Explore all crash reports in a given area, whether that’s one you draw yourself or predefined in the Cityscape database.
- Quickly filter by crash type (bicyclist, pedestrian, etc.) and injury severity.
- Download the data for further analysis.
How to access the Chicago Crash Browser
The crash data requires a Cityscape membership. I created a new tier of membership that cannot be signed up – I must grant it to you. It will give you access only to Transportation Snapshots.
- Create a free account on Chicago Cityscape. The site uses only social networks for creating accounts.
- Mention or DM me on Twitter, @stevevance, saying you’d like access to the crash data. Tell me what your email you used to create an account on Chicago Cityscape.
- I’ll modify your membership to give you access to the “transportation tier” and tell you to sign out and sign back in to activate it.
Once you’re in, this video shows you how to draw a “Personal Place” and explore the traffic crash data there. Text instructions are below.
- From the Chicago Cityscape homepage, click on “Maps” in the menu bar and then click “Draw your own map”.
- On the “Personal Place” page that appears with a large map, decide which shape you’d like to draw: a circle with a radius that you specify (good for intersections), a square or rectangle (good for street blocks), or an arbitrary polygon (good for winding streets in parks). Click the shape and draw it according to the onscreen instructions. For intersections I recommend making the circle 150 feet for small intersections and 200 feet for long intersections; this is because intersections have an effect on driving beyond the box.
- Once you’ve completed drawing the shape, a popup window appears with the button to “view & save this Personal Place”. Click that button and a new browser tab will open with something called a “Place Snapshot”.
- In the Place Snapshot enter a name for your Personal Place and click the “Save” button.
- Scroll down and, under the “Additional Snapshots” heading, click the link for “Transportation & Jobs Snapshot”; a new browser tab will open.
- In Transportation Snapshot, scroll down and look for “Traffic crashes”. You’ve made it to the new Chicago Crash Browser.