Tag: driving

You asked for it, you got it – Chicago bike count data

Note: This post doesn’t have any analysis of the data or report, nor do I make any observations. I think it’s more significant to hear the ideas you have about what you see in the map or read in the data.

A lot of people wanted the Chicago bike crash and injury data overlaid with bike counts data.

In 2009, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) placed automatic bike counting equipment at many locations around the city. It uses pneumatic tubes to count the number of bicyclists (excludes cars) at that point in the street – it counts ALL trips, and cannot distinguish between people going to work or going to school. This is dissimilar from Census data which asks respondents to indicate how they go to work.

Well, good news for you! CDOT today released the bike counts report from data collected in 2009 (just in time). There has been overwhelming response about the bike crash map I published – this shows how rabid the public is for information on their environments (just yesterday someone told me that they switched bike routes based on the crash frequency they noticed on their original route).

The size of the blue dot indicates the bicycle mode share for that count location. Mode share calculated by adding bikes and cars and dividing by bikes.

Get the data

A photo of the EcoCounter counting machine in action on Milwaukee Avenue (this was taken during testing phase, where CDOT compared automatic and manual counts to determine the machine’s accuracy).

How to use this map:

  1. Find a blue dot (count location) in an area you’re interested in.
  2. Zoom into that blue dot.
  3. Click on the blue dot to get the number of bikes counted there.
  4. Then observe the number of purple dots (crashes) near that count location.

What do you see that’s interesting?

What else is coming?

Now let’s hope the Active Transportation Alliance and the Chicago Park District release their Lakefront Trail counts from summer 2010. CDOT may have conducted bicycle counts in 2010 as well – I hope we don’t have to wait as long for that data.

I hope to have a tutorial on how to use GeoCommons coming soon. You should bug me about it if I don’t post it within one week.

Photos of Chicago bike commuters by Joshua Koonce.

My take on what to call people who use transportation

Bicyclist versus person riding a bike? Which is the better term?

I first came across this “transportation user identification” debate on Human Transit:

Is there anything wrong with calling a group of people “transit users” or “riders”?  Is there anything wrong with calling yourself such a thing?


Reducing mode choice categories to nouns – cyclists, motorists, riders, etc – is potentially divisive.  These categories seem to give us the clarity we need to do any thinking at all, but clinging to them can blind us of all the ways that two cyclists can be different…

Who is this person?

Travis said on my Facebook wall:

We are all just people using various forms of transportation. Sometimes I use feet, but I am not a pedestrian. Sometimes I bike, but I am not a cyclist. Sometimes I drive, but I am not a motorist. I am a person. Why must we compartmentalize and deal in absolutes? It causes Us-Them situations.

Is this a scofflaw motorist or a person illegally driving on light rail tracks? Photo by Richard Masoner.

About two weeks ago I started changing the way I identify people in my writing and in my photo descriptions. You’ll now read “people riding bikes to the grocery store” instead of “bike shoppers” or “person in a car” instead of motorist.”

We’re all pedestrians

Martha Gonzalez was killed by a hit-and-run driver five minutes before I arrived at the scene. I’m not a firefighter, police officer, or EMT; I commute by bike on the same road Martha walks on. Sometimes I also walk on Halsted.

We’re all pedestrians.

Flyer in neighborhood with photo of Martha offering $5,000 reward to information that leads to conviction of driver. The driver has not been found and video footage, if available, has not been released (a traffic camera was in view of the collision location).

What has happened to “pedestrianism” in the past four months? A lot. While some of the news items below may not describe situations in which a walking person was directly affected, they describe issues that affect vulnerable street users.

And finally, between October 13 and November 1, six Chicagoans died while doing what we all do: being pedestrians.

The automobile assault on pedestrians occurs daily

Transportation for America reports 400 pedestrians killed each month. Thankfully, no pedestrians were hurt in the collision you see here.

More of you need to carry cameras around to document this travesty. You’ve seen my photos. Where’re yours?

Watch for my article on pedestrian safety coming on Friday (I wrote it a month ago, but the information and message isn’t late).

Motoring is triple threat to bicycling and the environment

Location: Northwest corner of Clark Street and Congress Parkway.

This photo shows the damage that automobiles inflict on our cities, environment, and, closest to my heart, bikes and bike parking.

An errant motorist jumped the curb and crashed first into the tree, then the bike rack, and finally the bike parked here. The LaSalle Blue Line station entrance is just steps away (in the background). Imagine the fate of a bicyclist who might have been locking their red Schwinn road bike to the bike rack only to find a 2-ton metal box hurtling in their direction. This photo makes clear how driving is a threat to so many aspects of our streets.

The collision had a direct monetary cost. The city will most likely pick up the tab for everything except replacing the bike. Here’s what I surmise from the photographed scene:

  • Tree removal and replacement: >$1,000
  • Bike rack removal and replacement: $450 ($300 for a new one, $150 to remove)
  • Vintage Schwinn: $200
  • Bike removal: $50
  • Cleanup: $150
  • Total: At least $1,850

Please drive carefully. Send me your photos of the automobile imposition – reader updates are here. But wait, I’ve encountered this again and again:

Location: Northwest corner of Elton Avenue and Cicero Avenue.

Location: Northwest corner of Lawrence Avenue and Kostner Avenue in front of Chicago Public Library, Mayfair branch.

UPDATE: Thanks for the mention, BikePortland.