Gathering Data to Measure Traffic Violence

- October 03, 2019

Recently I’ve found myself becoming involved with Transportation Alternative’s #FixCanal campaign. Their campaign is meant to shed light on a street that has long suffered as a dangerous traffic sewer that has resulted in thousands of injuries and many deaths in just a few years.

As my interest has grown in the project, I’ve found myself diving down rabbit-holes looking for data. In this search, I’ve found resources that can be helpful for any project or idea promoting street safety. While this list is just a small start of what’s available, it can be helpful for anyone interested in doing some digging.

(1) Crashmapper.org
Crashmapper(created by CHECKPEDS) is useful for honing in on specific areas and mapping crashes. Crashmapper leverages NYC’s Motor Vehicle Collisions data and provides an intuitive interface to map out crash data for specific areas. This application really shines in its ability to quickly shed light on crashes occurring in any area of interest, and providing built-in ways to quickly generate visuals and compare crashes between time ranges, as well as easily share these visuals

Crashmapper on Canal Street
Crashmapper on Canal Street

(2) NYC Precinct map
Once you’ve figured out an area that you’re interested in exploring, it only makes sense to familiarize yourself with the precinct that typically patrols that area. The NYC Precinct map allows you to target areas by an address and be told which precinct falls within that boundary. You can also see what boundaries a particular precinct patrols. Sometimes multiple precincts may patrol the same street you’re looking at.

Locating an NYPD precinct by a street address
Locating an NYPD precinct by a street address

(3) NYC Moving Violations NYC releases a monthly public tally of how many moving violations each precinct has written. This is good for understanding enforcement in a specific precinct. While the tally is precinct-wide and it is possible to aggregate it and get a good sense for how enforcement has been over time for a particular precinct. Unfortunately it’s not possible to figure out where those moving violations were given.

Plotting historical moving violation data for both the 1st and the 5th precinct. Both precincts patrol areas of Manhattan that move more than 16 million vehicles annually.
Plotting historical moving violation data for both the 1st and the 5th precinct. Both precincts patrol areas of Manhattan that move more than 16 million vehicles annually.

(4) PANYNJ bridge and tunnels
Some of the most dangerous areas in NYC are near tunnels and bridges. This is likely due in part to a variety of factors. Wider roads, faster speeds, and higher car and truck volumes are just a few factors. The stats here provide historical perspective counts, broken down month-by-month. Unfortunately, only tolled crossings are counted, so some counts only show traffic in one direction.

(5) MTA ridership information MTA has information on how many people entered a particular station. While they don’t have stats on exactly which train someone was taking, and they don’t have stats on transfers or people leaving a station, this number gives a baseline as to how many people may have walked in a given area, which is especially useful if you’re trying to determine pedestrian demand patterns.

Other useful datasets can be found at NYC Open Data. This site publishes public datasets of all types of city information, which can also be used to correlate complaints with an area of interest. For example, if illegal parking is a problem on your block and you believe it has been responsible for some crashes, you can see how often illegal parking is reported through the 311 Dataset

I hope this helps! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at joe@urbaneoptics.com, or message me on twitter.