Liberate yourself from government transportation data that doesn’t tell you what you need to know!
Break the chains of ignorance about how streets in your town are being used!
Declare your independence from five-year-old data sets in PDF spreadsheets!
Advocates have for too long been at the mercy of the limited data on travel patterns they get from places like the American Community Survey and the National Household Travel Survey. And don’t even get me started on the Federal Highway Administration, which is about as transparent as a cataract. The information federal agencies provide is often out-of-date by the time it’s released, and simply doesn’t ask the right questions to find out how much people really use non-motorized modes of transportation.
“Traditionally the people that have had the data are the people in power,” Nick Grossman of the MIT Center for Civic Media said. “And we’re seeing, across society, the democratization of access to data.”
When it comes to transportation, the democratization Grossman is talking about could come in the form of a small cylinder attached to a long cable that you can lay across a street or bike lane to quickly and easily conduct your own traffic count. You can even track vehicle speeds. Then you plug it into your computer and it creates a database and even maps the data for you. It’s called TrafficCOM, and its creators are trying to kick-start $50,000 right now to produce them.
Mary Lauran Hall of the Alliance for Biking and Walking was impressed when TrafficCOM developer Aurash Khawarzad gave a demonstration at the Alliance office:
The visit got me thinking about how helpful a low-cost traffic measuring device could be for biking and walking advocacy organizations. A simple $200 portable device for measuring traffic and speed could make it much easier for advocates and community leaders to make data-based arguments about street safety. Imagine being able to easily measure average car speed on a particularly problematic street, or being able to quantify just how popular a new bike lane is.
Anyone who pledges $200 or more on Kickstarter will receive one of the devices. For that price you get up-to-the-minute, easy-to-obtain information about how people are using your local streets. It’s a whole lot cheaper than this fancy bike counter Copenhagen installed a couple years ago, and a whole lot simpler than standing out there with a clipboard and a clicker.