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Cambridge Crash Data Visualized

Written by Boston Biker on May 02

The Social Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab launched a website this month featuring maps of various cities around the country including a map of reported bicycle crashes in Cambridge.

They write, “This map helps to show where crashes tend to happen, like Mass Ave and Cambridge Street and Hampshire Street, in the hope that those streets might be made safer for riders.”

Knowing where, when and how a crash occurs best equips planners and decision makers to prevent these similar crashes in the future. Check out the map visualization of the 746 reported bike crashes in Cambridge from 2010-2013.

 

crascambridge

 

Its pretty damn amazing, you can get a break down by street (no surprise the streets with the most cyclists have the most crashes), by location, and you can get a street view image of every intersection.  This sort of data visualization is vital to designing safer streets.  Check it out.


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Copenhagen Wheel Officially Released

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 17

I had written about it before way back in 2009, well they went and built it as a product you can buy.

 

more here, and here.

See my previous post for my initial ideas…also that spoke setup seems very strange to me. But still fascinating, would love to ride one around and see what it is like.


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Now We Know Who To Blame For All That Traffic

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 18

The dark blue on the map shows the neighborhoods whose residents spend the most time stuck in traffic. The red outlines identify 15 census tracts whose drivers disproportionately clog traffic, because they all tend to travel on the same small number of roads at the same time. When commuters from these census tracts clog the roads, the congestion ripples throughout the entire metro area, making everyone’s commutes longer.

The dark blue on the map shows the neighborhoods whose residents spend the most time stuck in traffic. The red outlines identify 15 census tracts whose drivers disproportionately clog traffic, because they all tend to travel on the same small number of roads at the same time. When commuters from these census tracts clog the roads, the congestion ripples throughout the entire metro area, making everyone’s commutes longer.

A recent study by MIT and UC Berkely using anonymous cell phone data and gps have determined that it is just 15 areas in the Boston metro area (out of 750 tracked by the census) are causing almost all of the traffic jams in Boston.

What they found, perhaps surprisingly, is that during rush hour, 98 percent of roads in the Boston area were in fact below traffic capacity, while just 2 percent of roads had more cars on them than they could handle. These congested roads included short stretches of I-495 southbound and Route 128 southbound, a number of downtown streets, and a wide scattering of suburban arteries, such as Bridge Street in Lowell (southbound) and Water Street in Haverhill (northbound). Each of these roads has what the engineers term a high degree of “betweenness”—that is, they’re essential for connecting one part of the metropolitan area to the others.

The backups on these roads ripple outward, causing traffic to snarl across the Hub. Marta Gonzalez of MIT, one of the lead engineers on the study, explains the effect this way. “The analogy we make is of your circulatory system,” she says. “When you have one artery that is blocked, it will affect your entire circulation.”

By tracking the cell records, they found that it’s just a small number of drivers from a small number of neighborhoods who are responsible for tying up the key roads. Specifically, they identified 15 census tracts (out of the 750 in Greater Boston) located in Everett, Marlborough, Lawrence, Lowell, and Waltham as the heart of the problem, because drivers from those areas make particularly intensive use of the problematic roads in the system.(via)

What this says to me is that, if we could connect these areas to decent public transportation and cycling options we could eliminate large amounts of traffic in this town. By working smarter, not harder, we could burst the bubble of traffic with laser guided improvements to our infrastructure.

The study demonstrated that “canceling or delaying the trips of 1 percent of all drivers across a road network would reduce delays caused by congestion by only about 3 percent,” MIT wrote. ” But canceling the trips of 1 percent of drivers from carefully selected neighborhoods would reduce the extra travel time for all other drivers in a metropolitan area by as much as 18 percent.”

The effectiveness of this “selective strategy” is attributed in the study to the facts that “only [a] few road segments are congested” and that these road segments are clogged by people originating largely from only a few areas. Even though data was anonymous, researchers were able to infer drivers’ home neighborhoods “from the regularity of the route traveled and from the locations of cell towers that handled calls made between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m,” UC-Berkeley said.(via)

If we can get drivers in these targeted areas to bus/train/cycle to work, we could dramatically reduce traffic in the rest of the town. Combined with some sort of congestion tax to keep otherwise non-car drivers from filling in the empty space made by the reduction of traffic, and using the money from that and a re-organized tax system to fund improvements in public transportation infrastructure, we could be living in a very pleasant city devoid of most single occupancy car drivers.

Science!


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Posted in advocacy, Commuting | 6 Comments »

MIT Cyclist Fatality Report Released

Written by Boston Biker on May 16

I reported the sad news that several months ago a MIT student was fatality struck by a truck, the report about the incident was released today.

The investigation into the Dec. 27, 2011 death of Phyo Kyaw ’10 is complete, and it has been ruled an accident. Kyaw was killed when his bicycle and a J. P. Noonan tanker truck collided as the truck turned right from Massachusetts Avenue onto Vassar Street in rainy weather after dark that evening.

“We found that there is insufficient evidence to support negligence on the part of the driver,” said Jessica Venezia Pastore, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Pastore responded to a routine inquiry from The Tech about this matter on Friday. Pastore said the investigation had closed on April 8. Police reports on the accident were not available prior to that closure.

The Massachusetts State Police performed a collision reconstruction, and their 16-page reconstruction report, dated March 21, is available online at http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N26/kyaw.(full article here)

The article is pretty good, and worth a read. As a blogger you wish you could say something at the end of a post like this, something hopeful or uplifting but the sad truth is this was a senseless tragedy, and nothing will make it better. My best wishes go out to Kyaw’s family, and friends.


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MIT Unveils The Copenhagen Wheel

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 15

So my first impression was…what? Then I was sorta, hmmm. Now I am kinda What? Hmmm….

I am not really sure how I feel about MIT’s new Copenhagen Wheel part of me is really excited about how this could bring more people into cycling, but another part of me is kind of turned off by all the gizmo’s and wizbangs. One of the reasons why I cycle is because it is simple. This is very complicated but wrapped up in a simple shell. If it all works like they say it might be a great way to get people who would otherwise not cycle (because they are lazy, or not physically fit enough) cycling. It also allows you to collect all sorts of environmental data about the routes you cycle.

The best part of the site in my opinion is the kinds of things cities could use all this data for:

A BIGGER CONTRIBUTION

You can also make a bigger contribution through your daily commute. And share your data, anonymously, with your city. When many cyclists donate the information their wheel is collecting, your city gains access to a new scale of fine-grained environmental information. Through this, your city can: Cross analyze different types of environmental data on a scale that has never before been achieved before. Build a more detailed understanding of the impact of transportation, on a city infrastructure Or study dynamic phenomena like urban heat islands. Ultimately, this type of crowd sourcing can influence how your city allocates its resources, how it responds to environmental conditions in real-time or how it structures and implements environmental and transportation policies.

Here is there press release and quotes from their website:

MIT’S BIG WHEEL IN COPENHAGEN
New bicycle wheel not only boosts power using Formula One inspired technology, but also can keep track of fitness, friends, smog and traffic – helping Copenhagen become the first carbon neutral capital by 2025 It looks like an ordinary bicycle wheel with an oversized center. But packed inside the sleek, bright red hub is a veritable Swiss army knife’s worth of electronic gadgets and novel functions.

The Copenhagen Wheel, designed by researchers at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, will be presented at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change on December 15, 2009 before heads of state and mayors form all over the world. It can store energy every time the rider brakes and then give that power back to provide a boost when going uphill or to add a burst of speed in traffic. “The wheel uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has radically changed Formula One racing over the past couple of years.

When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so that you can have it back to you when you need it.” – explains professor Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. “The bike wheel contains all you need so that no sensors or additional electronics need to be added to the frame and an existing bike can be retrofitted with the blink of en eye. In a sense, you drive by foot: when you pedal forward the motor supplements your torque; when you pedal backwards to brake, the motor starts regenerating electric energy while reducing your speed.”

The first goal of the Copenhagen Wheel is to promote cycling by extending the range of distance people can cover and by making the whole riding experience smoother so that even steep up-hills are not longer a barrier to comfortable cycling. Accordig to Ritt Bjerregaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, “our city’s ambition is that 50% of the citizens will take their bike to work or school every day. So for us, this project is part of the answer to how can we make using a bike even more attractive.”
But there are also a variety of extra functions hidden within the hub of the Copenhagen Wheel. By using a series of sensors and a Bluetooth connection to the user’s iPhone, which can be mounted on the handlebars, the wheel can monitor the bicycle’s speed, direction and distance traveled, as well as collect data on air pollution and even the proximity of the rider’s friends. “One of the applications that we have discussed with the City of Copenhagen is that of an incentive scheme whereby citizens collect Green Miles – something similar to frequent flyer miles, but good for the environment,” comments Christine Outram, who led the team of researchers at MIT.

The project aims to create a platform for individual behavioral change. “The Copenhagen Wheel is part of a more general trend: that of inserting intelligence in our everyday objects and of creating a smart support infrastructure around ourselves for everyday life,” comments Assaf Biderman, Associate Director of the Senseable City Lab. “The Wheel also has a smart lock: if somebody tries to steal it, it goes into a mode where the brake regenerates the maximum amount of power, and sends you a text message. So in the worst case scenario the thief will have charged your batteries before you get back your bike.” The initial prototypes of the Copenhagen Wheel were developed along with company Ducati Energia and the Italian Ministry of the Environment. It is expected that the wheel will go into production next year, with a tag price competitive with that of a standard electric bike. According to Claus Juhl, CEO of Copenhagen, the city might place the first order and use bicycles retrofitted with the Copenhagen Wheel as a substitution for city employee cars as part of the city’s goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.

The Copenhagen Wheel team at MIT is composed of Christine Outram, Project Leader, Rex Britter, Andrea Cassi, Xiaoji Chen, Jennifer Dunnam, Paula Echeverri, Myshkin Ingawale, Ari Kardasis, E Roon Kang, Sey Min, Assaf Biderman and Carlo Ratti. The project was developed for the City of Copenhagen in cooperation with Ducati Energia and with the support of the Italian Ministry for the Environment.

Patti Richards Director, Media Relations MIT News Office Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Ave., Room 11-400
Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 617.253.8923
main:617.253.2700
[email protected]

QUOTES BY PROFESSOR CARLO RATTI,
DIRECTOR SENSEABLE CITY LAB

– “It uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has revolutionized
Formula One racing over the past couple of years. When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated
by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so you can get it back
when you need it.”

– “The Wheel is a self contained unit. It can be plugged into any bike without requiring additional
electronics or wires. It is fully controlled by your feet: when you pedal forward, the motor supplements
your torque; when you pedal backwards to brake, the motor starts regenerating electric energy while
reducing your speed.”

– “Over the past few years we have seen a kind of ‘biking renaissance,’ which started in Copenhagen
and is now transforming the urban experience in many cities from Paris to Barcelona or Montreal.
We could also call it a ‘Biking 2.0′ revolution, whereby cheap electronics allow us to augment bikes
and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system.”

– “The initial prototypes of the Copenhagen Wheel were expensive, but after production streamlining,
we calculate that the price will be competitive with that of a standard electric bike.”

– “The Copenhagen Wheel is part of a more general trend of inserting intelligence into our everyday
objects to create a smart, supporting infrastructure around ourselves.”
QUOTES BY ASSAF BIDERMAN,
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE SENSSEABLE CITY LAB

– “Our goal with the Copenhagen Wheel is to promote cycling by expanding the range of distance
people can cover and by making the riding experience smoother. When long distance and steep hills
are no longer barriers to comfortable cycling, many cities can become more bicycle-friendly.

– “The bike wheel is an extension of your personal mobile device.
Controlled through your smart phone, the wheel recognizes you as you approach. While you ride, you
can switch gears and motor modes using your phone, and receive real-time alerts automatically”.

– “The Wheel also has a smart security system: if someone rides away with it, the Wheel goes into a
mode where the brake regenerates the maximum amount of power and sends you a text message
with its location. So in the worst case, the thief will have fully charged your batteries before you get
back your bike.”

– “As bikers collect and share air quality data, cycling becomes more than a clean mode of transport. It
opens yet another door for citizens to participate in governance and in the maintenance of public
resources”.

– “Bicycles are very efficient machines. Rather than reinventing them, we’re introducing a simple
technological enhancement that allows any bike to become a smart and responsive hybrid”
QUOTES BY CHRISTINE OUTRAM,
COPENHAGEN WHEEL PROJECT LEADER

– “One of the applications we developed for the city is a Green Mile program, which is similar to a
frequent flyer program, but good for the environment.”

– “It opens the door for individuals to participate in plans to reduce emissions, such as carbon cap and
trade, which have so far been offered mostly to large organizations.”
QUOTES BY CORRADO CLINI,
COPENHAGEN WHEEL PROJECT

– “In 2009, The Italian Ministry for the Environment put aside 12 million euros for supporting the
dissemination of cycling in cities. The Copenhagen Wheel fits with our vision and represents an
exciting step towards sustainable urban transportation.”

Here are some images of it in action. Sleek looking design, but I worry about the spokes…they look a bit…fragile.


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Bike-Sharing 3.0 – The Future Of Urban Shared Transport Systems

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 03

Everybody loves it when something has a #.0 after it right? And 3.0 is better than 2.0, so by my unbeatable logic you should go to this.

————-

Bike-Sharing 3.0 – The future of urban shared transport systems
December 7, 2009 5:30pm-7:30pm
A discussion of the past, present and future of shared-transport systems using Paris Velib as a model.

Panelists:
Matthieu Fierling- Velib, the Paris bike-sharing project
Robin Chase-Founder of ZipCar and GoLoco
Nicole Freedman- Director of Bicycle Programs, City of Boston
Carlo Ratti- Director, SenseableCity Lab, MIT
Chris Zegras- Assistant Professor,
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
Ryan Chin-PhD Candidate, MIT Media Lab, Smart Cities group

Category:
lectures/conferences
art/architecture/museum
humanities/social sciences
global/international

Location:
32-123 (click for map), Kirsch Auditorium, Stata
Sponsored by:
Center for International Studies, MISTI, SA&P, The Cultural Services of the French Consulate in Boston

Admission:
free
Open to public

For more information:
Erin Baumgartner
E-mail: [email protected]
URL: http://web.mit.edu/misti/events/bike-sharing.html
Phone: 253-8813


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New MIT Study On Bike Safety And Helmets

Written by Boston Biker on Nov 09

This looks really interesting and who knows, those smart kids over at MIT might make another awesome invention that changes the world!

—–

We are team of MIT students in 2009 Product Engineering Processes and are working on a design project related to helping people during cycling accidents. This survey should take 15 minutes to complete. Your responses will be very helpful to us in developing our design. All answers will be kept confidential. Thank you very much for your participation.

Survey Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Jbspk0tZUSQDsmAx8fW6Zg_3d_3d

Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] with any questions/comments/suggestions/concerns.


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Misinterpreting Statistics To Show Cyclists As Causing More Bike-Car Crashes Than Drivers November 24, 2014
      TweetYet again, the passage of a 3 foot passing law, designed to protect cyclists as drivers pass them, sparked a debate. This time, the debate ensued in San Diego, California. The argument was over sharing the road, not surprising given … Continue reading →
      IsolateCyclist
    • Capitalizing On The Death Of Cyclists November 21, 2014
      TweetSometimes it seems as if advertising people will do anything to sell us their wares. Many of the things they do are outrageous, and if the rest of us did these things, we would be admonished for being unethical or … Continue reading →
      IsolateCyclist
    • Cranks Giving! November 20, 2014
      TweetFrom the F-book: ————– Saturday, November 22 at 1:00pm in EST Copley Square Copley Sq, Boston, Massachusetts 02116 First annual Cranksgiving Boston bike ride! Bring a bike, a bag, and a lock. This event is FREE but you’ll need about … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Action Alert: Allston I-90 Interchange Project November 20, 2014
      TweetLets make sure we don’t end up with just another highway, see below From Livable Streets: ———-   We have a vision for something more than just a new highway.  After months of MassDOT I-90 Allston Interchange task force meetings, … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • THE DANGERS OF SAFETY: Why Focusing on Car Accidents May Hurt Our Health November 18, 2014
      Everyone officially puts “safety first.” Everyone wants to prevent accidents. Car crashes are treated as lead stories on TV news – the images are horrific and we all fear our vulnerability. But, in fact, our roads are safer than ever. In 1956, when Interstate construction began, the national fatality rate was 6.05 per 100 million […]
      Steve Miller
    • rain, wind and cold. ride anyway. November 17, 2014
      Tweetwell yeah, rain, wind, cold, dark, traffic – it beats driving a car, and def beats riding the ever so depressing Boston Subway system. Plus it makes you feel strong to be out in the elements. Ha, bad weather… ride … Continue reading →
      altbiker
    • Building Sidewalks For Children November 17, 2014
      TweetWhat have our societies become when local authorities are forced to apply for grants to build sidewalks for children? While this is a good thing, as it allows the children to engage in healthier options for traveling to school, it … Continue reading →
      IsolateCyclist
    • Help MIT Students Test Outdoor Bicycle Training Device November 14, 2014
      TweetFrom the email, looks like fun! ———- We are engineering students at MIT who are building a device (Terrainer) for competitive cyclists to train outdoors.  To further improve our project, we are looking for competitive cyclists to help test and provide feedback … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Cambridge To Follow Boston’s Lead On Side Guards For Trucks November 14, 2014
      TweetI have talked about this a couple of times (here and here and here), and its great to see Cambridge moving forward with this simple and awesome plan.  Via On Monday, November 10, the City of Cambridge took a major step … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Cold weather glove review November 13, 2014
      TweetCold weather riding has it’s advantages. If you ride the paths, you begin to notice that there is much less traffic on the bike paths. The people out there tend to be more experienced and cordial that the fair weather … Continue reading →
      altbiker