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Friday, November 28, 2014

Bike accidents in Cambridge, MA 2010-2013 #2

I'm continuing to think about the "contest" from Open Data Discourse.  I managed to deal with the sunset data and also processed the data so I can geocode in QGIS.  First result: 4PM to 7PM, Monday through Friday.  Not unexpectedly, nearly all of the accidents are on the major commuting routes.  It thins out if you look at the same period but for after sunset:



If you look at the after work commuting hours after sunset, you see that most accidents are on Mass Ave and the major routes leading into, and in, Inman Square but the density is far less.



The short answer, so far: riding at night, on major commuting routes is probably a less than safe time and place to ride but accidents happen during daylight.

Sunset times were derived from here but I used only 2010 data, which is within 1 minute for times for other years.  I used this site for timing of daylight savings time for the 4 years.

The table is here, if you want to look at it directly.

See the first post on mapping bike accidents here.

Two thoughts about the data.  1) these are reported accidents only.  I don't have any idea of what accidents are not reported and there are certainly no near misses in this dataset and  2) I noticed a significant (so significant that I remembered it from 3 years ago) accident at the corner of Mass Ave and Vasser.  This accident was not in the data set.

More later.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mapping Cambridge, MA Bicycle Accidents (1 of many), raw data

Open Data Discourse has a contest to best represent accident data in Cambridge, MA from 2010 to 2013 in an effort to improve safety in our fair city.  I'm interested in bicycle accidents although the data includes car/car and car/pedestrian accidents.  You can find their contest here, for now.  I downloaded the data and put it in a Google Fusion Table for now.  It looks like this:



There are 765 records.  You can see one errant point in Somerville, which is supposed to be at the intersection of Parker and Cambridge Streets (and this doesn't exist - I think this should be the intersection of Parker and Concord).  Clicking on the points show you the time and what "objects" were involved.  There is an object 1 and object 2.  I presume these mean that the object 1 crashed into object 2 but that isn't clear.  There are 26 cases of bikes crashing into other objects, including one case of a bike crashing into another bike and other cases where bikes crash into parked cars, among other objects.

The points were geocoded by Google, which is a feature of Fusion Tables.  When a street address is available, the point maps to the center of the nearby land parcel.  When the location is an intersection, the point maps to the center of the intersection.

I tried to include a heat map but heat maps produced by Google Fusion Tables can't be published (and added to a web page or blog as my map of the raw points is published here).  It doesn't tell you much you can't see here: the preponderance of bicycle accidents are on Mass Ave, Hampshire, Broadway, and Cambridge.  I was a little surprised about the stretch of Mass Ave west of Porter Square.  It doesn't seem all that dangerous.  I think I will take even more care when I am on that stretch of road.  One thing about the heat maps - the intensity is based on nearness of points and that is measured in screen pixels, not distance on the ground.  So if I could publish a map and add it here, you zooming in and out would change what I intended so not having heat maps is no great loss.

The next step for me is to parse the data and time field so I can map by location and time of day and day of the week.  I also need to calculate the time of sunset for a given year since darkness could be a factor in accidents.  I'll use this code from NOAA to make  the calculation.  I'll post more on this once I work through these next steps.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Coffeeneuring 2014 - DNF, again

A few weeks ago I was talking with Shoji about coffeeneuring on the ride to work.  We happen to cross paths and ride in together, although not all that frequently.  Shoji was a successful errandonneur this year but didn't plan to try to complete this year's coffeeneuring challenge.  As a dad with two young children, he couldn't count on always have free time on the weekends for the coffeeneuring challenge, although he is free to commute by bicycle, which he does every day.  It's relatively easy to finish the errandonnee if you are riding 5 days a week already (not that I finished this year's challenge) but it is another thing entirely to always be able to carve out alone time on the weekends when you have young children.  And so it was this year.  I missed the first weekend of coffeeneuring with a trip to Maine that didn't include bikes.  I made up that lost weekend with a second coffeeneuring trip on another weekend and had just one trip for this weekend.  And it didn't happen.  I could go out now for a cup of tea or a mulled cider but if I did it would violate one of my rules for coffeeneuring - it has to be fun.  And right now I have some energy for typing but not enough for going out in the cold.  Not that the cold and dark bother me but I do have to get ready for the work week and getting the boys out the door tomorrow.  So here is the record of my successful trips.  Maybe I'll earn an honorable mention.

Coffeeneuring 1 - Diesel Cafe in Davis Square, Somerville, MA.  This is one of my favorite places for coffee and hanging out. 9 miles.

Coffeeneuring 2 - An early morning ride out to Concord and Carlisle with a stop at Haute Coffee in Concord, MA.  Lights were required for this one. 43 miles.

Coffeeneuring 3 - A carbon nap for my son without the carbon.  We stopped at my current favorite coffee shop, Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, MA. 15 miles.

Coffeeneuring 4 and 5 - A quick trip to Kickstand Cafe in Arlington, MA, taken the long way with a detour though trails in Belmont, the town to the south of Arlington.  Included is a quick trip to a Starbuck the following day after running errands in town. 8 and  4 miles.

Coffeeneuring 6 - Sofra Bakery on the Belmont/Cambridge, MA line.  This also included a detour through the same trails through Belmont but I got a little lost in the woods.  Sofra is a great place to stop for coffee and/or treats.  I never had breakfast or lunch there but it looks like it would be great.  11  miles.

While I didn't finish the challenge, I did work with the Chief Coffeeneur on the digital maps.  We added a coffee shop map this year.  Let us know if you participated in the challenge and want to add the shops you visited to the map.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coffeeneuring #6 - getting lost in the woods

Coffeeneuring #6 is complete!  If you read my blog last year, or the results from the Chief Coffeeneur, you might recall that even as the New England Regional Office of Coffeeneuring, I wasn't able to complete the challenge.  I stand a better chance this year, with one weekend remaining in the challenge and only one more coffee shop to visit.  Or I could say, darn, only 1 more coffee shop that I get to visit, with my wife's blessing.  In fact, I'm hoping that my wife comes with me, and the boys, too.  I'm hoping for a combination of Union Square Donuts and Bloc 11, which I visited on last year's challenge, as my last coffeeneuring event.  Maybe I could ride there and they could join me via the van car.

I picked Sofra for this trip.  It's a fabulous bakery, specializing in Middle Eastern fair (although the owners are not from the Middle East, at least as far as I know).  They have a lot of savory options and while they call themselves a bakery, you can certainly get breakfast and lunch there as well.
Sofra is in Belmont, the next town over, and I decided to again ride through the trails on my way there.  I again used the Diverged ride route and decided in advance to avoid the steepest section, just above Snake Hill Road.  Just before the turn off I noticed, for the first time, an old water tower, probably connected to Maclean Hospital.  For an isolated spot, at least a half mile from the nearest road, it was covered in graffiti:


The top is capped with a conical roof, which I couldn't capture from below and couldn't focus on it from a distance.  It's colored with rust, above the graffiti:


Just beyond this was, I thought, the steep section.  And just before the steep section was a turn.  I think that's were I left the known route or maybe I already veered off since I didn't have the GPS route and I had only been on these trails twice before.  In any case, I soon found myself descending into the Maclean Hospital grounds.  The hospital is expansive and some of the buildings looked like there were in the middle of renovations:


There was also the new residential development that was built within the grounds after some lean years in the 1990s.  It was odd seeing the modern somewhat dense residential development surrounded in places by the older institutional buildings.  I didn't have a map (although I could have looked at Ride With GPS on my phone (I added a route, just in case I got really lost) but knew that the road I was looking for, Mill Street, lay to the north.  I was lucky that the path I followed led quickly to a road then I simply followed what seemed to be a one way road until I saw an exit sign, which did lead me towards Mill Street.  From there I followed Trapelo Road to Sofra.

Sofra was packed.  The line for ordering and waiting for your order was long but it seemed to move quickly.  I grabbed a seat but noticed that there were empty seats outside.  I considered that but I was lightly dressed and it was fairly cold so I stayed inside.  The coffee (a cappuccino) was fabulous and I had a savory and a sweet pastry:


I shared my table with a woman waiting for a friend and enjoyed some conversation, but also a relaxing few minutes on my own.  It had been a busy morning, with my wife away for an appointment and me playing with the boys while I raked up a considerable volume of leaves, hopefully most of what I need to do this fall.  I'd love to come back here for lunch some time.

I managed to find more trails on my way home, descending from Huron Avenue down the path along Fresh Pond, and then taking the bike path into Arlington.  It was a 12 mile ride with a decent amount of uncertainty about where I was and mostly very nice roads and trails.  Trapelo was the exception but there was a lot of room (seemingly enough for parking and a good bike lane) so it wasn't bad despite the traffic.

Miles for the ride: 12, miles for  the month: 58, miles for the year: 2621.

My personal coffeeneuring map (let me know if you want to do this for yourself):

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Coffeeneuring #4 2014 or a ride in the woods + coffeeneuring #5

A couple of weekends I had the chance to get out for a second coffeeneuring excusion on Sunday.  I believe I spent most of  the day getting the boys out of the house so my wife could work so she generously gave me an hour and a half to get in another coffeeneuring adventure.  I thought I would stay in town and try out Kickstand Cafe, which I rarely go to, but decided on a longer route to get there.  I had the Ride Studio Cafe Diverged 2014 route on my Garmin so I decided that I'd try to get on the route to ride through some woods in Belmont.  I had tried this route in the spring without the GPS and didn't get lost but thought I might increase my chances of getting home on time so the GPS would give me confidence in doing so.

This area is a bit of a ride from my house so I had to navigate hills, semi-urban streets and a Route 2 crossing to get there but it was worth it.  The trails, for the most part, aren't technical but there is one descent that I did in the spring but I balked on since the trail was now leaf covered and, again, I wanted to get home on time and get home without blood showing.  The Garmin route from Ride Studio Cafe had a nice cutoff to avoid the Concord Ave morass where it emerges from the underpass (below the commuter rail tracks) and eventually brought me to the Fitchburg Cutoff and Minuteman Path.  All in all, I think well over half of my ride was either on dirt trails or bike paths.

The Kickstand Cafe is a nice place for coffee, especially in the afternoon when it isn't too busy.  The room is big and there is bar seating overlooking the parking lot.  Well, at least you could see the sun.  There is minimal outdoor seating.  I suggest that they do a better job with bike racks, however.

I think I take a left here ...


A quiet trail through the woods.


The wetland along part of the Fitchburg Cutoff.


I stopped and chatted with Jeremy on his Rivendell Simple One on the Minuteman.



Coffeeneuring #5 - not much to say about this except that the challenge motivated me to get out of the house before last weekend's nor'easter .  I had to run an errand in the center of town and had time for a quick cup of coffee (as in a short, which is not on the printed menu).  I did get some trail riding by going out of my way but mostly is was an excuse to get out of the house for a few extra minutes that morning.

My well locked bike attached to one of the only two racks here.



Official proof for the coffeeneuring challenge.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

A communal coffeeneuring map

Last year I helped the Chief Coffeeneur supplement her classic colored pencil map of coffeeneuring with a digital version of the map.   One person commented, suggesting that we should map all of the coffeeshops that people visit on the coffeeneuring challenge.  That would have been a lot of work last year and even more coffeeneurs are riding this year so having me or Mary add everyone's destinations would be more work than we are capable of doing.  But the idea is a good one and I made a map of my destinations and then I thought that I could share editing privileges for this map and anyone who is coffeeneuring could contribute.  This still could get unwieldly, with me having to send an email to anyone who expresses interest but I think it's worth a try and Mary thinks it could be worthwhile.  So here is the map, with the three coffee shops that I visited on it (and maybe more by the time you read this) and ready for more coffee shops:



If you are adding your coffee shop(s) and they don't appear on the map, go back to the table and open the Map of Location view.  This will geocode your address(es) and they will then appear in this map.

So this is how it will work ...

Anyone interested in adding their stops to the map should email me directly.  Find my email address in the About Me section of the right column of this blog.  Please send me your Gmail account, which seems to be the easiest to work with.  I will give you editing privileges via email.

Notice that you will have editing privileges, which means you can add rows of data but also accidentally delete or otherwise edit another person's data.  So you you will have to be careful.  This is what the table looks like so far:


If you want to add a coffeeneuring stop, you go to the Rows view (note the tab for Row, Cards, and Map of Location) and then in the Edit menu, select Add Row.  You might select Delete Row by accident, which will delete all of the rows and end this experiment.  The Add Row interface looks like this:


You need to fill in the coffee shop name (Shop), which is a simple text field.

Next, add the address (Address).  The address could be something like "1720 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA 02420" (the Ride Studio Cafe address), or it could be "Concord, MA", which would be less precise.  It's best to check the address in Google Maps.  For instance, something like "Starbucks in Lexington, MA" yields the less helpful (in this instance) map of all of the nearby Starbucks.  "Ride Studio Cafe Lexington, MA" works since there is only one Ride Studio Cafe in or near Lexington, MA.  An address could be a latitude, longitude pair, like "33.023513, -113.049178", works.  Try this one in Google Maps.  I've had lunch at this place, but didn't get there by bike.  If you think you don't have access to where you visited in spherical coordinates, simply open Google Earth and zoom to where you had coffee and look at the bottom of the Google Earth window.  Google Maps likes Decimal Degrees and not Degrees Minutes Seconds, which is the Google Earth default.  Change this in the Tools menu under Options.  In the Options window, look for Show Lat/Long then click on the Decimal Degrees radio box.

Now add a link to the coffee shops website (Link).  This is a hyperlink, if that term is still used, which take the map reader to the website and will hopefully help other coffeeneurs figure out if they want to visit the shop as well.

You can add notes about the coffee shop, or your visit there in the Notes field.

The last field, Coffeeneur, is meant to identify you, the person entering the data.  And by identifying you, I mean your online presence, if you have one.  For instance, I put in a link to my Twitter page.  I could have put in a link to this blog, or my Instagram account, or a link to my blog post about my visit there.  Anything works but it should be a legitimate web address or leave it blank.  Once you added a row and saved it (see the above image) then you need to click on the Map of Locations tab.  This geocodes the address, making it possible to put a pushpin on the map representing the shop and the data about it that you added.  Doing this may change the map extent.  While it is presently centered around Lexington, MA, adding a point in Finland, where there is an active coffeeneur, will center the map over the Atlantic and scale it so that both the eastern United States and Europe are in the map.

So be brave and contact me and I'll give you permission to edit the map and soon you will be adding to the map on this page.  A word of warning: I work a full time job during regular-ish business hours and have two children.  That means it might take a day or two after you send me an email to invite you as an editor.  If I seemed to forget, don't worry about pinging me.

I'll stop accepting requests to edit this page not long after Mary's final posts about this season's coffeeneuring exploits.


Coffeeneuring #3 2014, or a car nap, without the car

I probably never would have got out of the house today except that it was the day of the spooky walk (a Halloween walk around a pond in a wooded park in town) and the little guy needed a nap before we went, since we would be up past his usual bedtime.  He is too old for naps in his bed and car naps work great.  But we weren't going anywhere before the walk so I decided I'd run a couple of errands and then see if I could get my son to sleep in his bike seat.  We rode to the library in town then the post office then I said we'd take the long way home, a very long way home.  As it turned out, we took the bike path to route 128.  He didn't fall asleep until somewhere in Lexington and remained asleep until I pulled off the bike path to Ride Studio Cafe.  The studio wasn't hopping like it would be before or after a ride so I found a place inside to lean my bike so I didn't have to lock it for a second time on this trip.

Questions to be answered:

3) What bike are you using for as your coffeeneuring bike?


My Surly Cross Check commuter, equipped with a Co-Pilot child seat.  We are outgrowing this seat.  The big guy no longer fits in it while the little guy will be out of it next year.

BTW Rob Vandermark, president of Seven and Honey and co-owner of Ride Studio Cafe needed to grab something out of those drawers behind where my bike turned out to be inconveniently located and graciously moved it to get what he needed and put it back into place.  It's always nice to see Rob here.

4) Where did you choose to coffeeneur on this trip?

Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington.  If you don't know it already, it's a great shop with very nice people both on the coffee side and bike side.  The make great espresso and pour overs and sell very beautiful bikes.  It's my favorite coffee shop and I'd be there a lot more if it were closer to home.

It's obviously bike friendly, being part bike shop.  They have indoor bike parking and have worked with the town the have a two parking stall mini parklet and bike parking outside their shop.

The communal table:



7) Anything else to share?

I did get in trouble for getting home too late.  Fortunately we all survived.

Some things I saw on the bike trail ...

A high school boy insisting on passing an older couple on a bridge, forcing me to the side so he didn't hit us head on.  But he is immortal so no problem.

A man with a young girl on a child seat, pushing his son on his own bike, with training wheels.  I saw him on the way out of town and back in and either he was in a hurry or this was how he was training his son to ride.  I still remember a crash I witnessed a decade ago, a couple of hundred feet from where I last saw this family.  In that case, dad pushed his daughter to the ground while pushing her on her own bike with training wheels.  He went down as well.  This can never end well so don't try it at home.

An older child getting pushed by her mom, with mom screaming, "PEDAL, PEDAL!"

Overall, there were a lot of sane cyclists on the path today.