Austin Bike Crash Analysis

I’m an avid bike commuter and I recently moved to Austin. With all of its’ sunny days and unbearable heat in the summertime, I can see why the city has evolved into a driving city (despite the large cycling culture here).  I wanted to see what parts of the parts of the city I should watch out for when riding, what roads to avoid, and what kinds of factors I should be aware of to avoid accidents. I reviewed all the bike-related crashes from Texas DOT’s Crash Records Information System and came across some interesting things that are not only specific to Austin but to commuters all around.

Austin Viz Findings:

  • The amount of bike incidents have remained steady from 2010-2017, at around 262 incidents a year. Over the last 8 years, there have been a total of 2096 bike incidents that were reported, affecting 2417 individuals. Note, this number primarily reflects incidents that were reported by cyclists. 

Bike indicidents

  • 78704 is the most popular area for crashes. Being a resident of the famous ‘04’ and commute downtown everyday, I notice how this popular tourist hot spot is less bike-friendly than other areas. I ride the treacherous 5 lane Congress Ave everyday and have to share the road with the traffic and cars daring to back into an angled parking spot. There are also primarily two arteries to get to downtown or north and south: 5th St. aka Hippie Highway and Congress’s bike lanes. First St is a four lane nightmare with no bike shoulders, and taking Lamar is equally as busy.  Barton Springs and Oltorf are the two main ways to from east to west. With no alternative routes and residential streets that cut across town, it’s evident that five out of the top 10 streets where crashes occur are in the ‘04.’

04 arteries

  • Most critical times are on Fridays and during Rush Hour. I say, it’s more like Happy Hour to me. Watch out for the worst traffic in the world meets drunk drivers. Not too add, drivers are generally distracted being on their phones all the time.

frequency

Being aware of some simple guidelines and clarifying assumptions can help us avoid accidents on the road. Not everyone is aware of the rules of the road. Some motorists are not aware of cyclists and consider the rules to be suggestions. Thus, these rules become places where bike crashes occur.

    • Staying in your lane does not guarantee safety: 583 Incidents occurred at the signal light and 136 in Bike Lanes. It’s still helpful to obey red lights and traffic signs, as well as staying in the same direction as traffic.
    • Wear Bright Clothes when biking in the day: 70% of the crashes occured in daylight. It helps to stay visible not just during nighttime in Austin. We may except
    • Wear a helmet: Three-quarters of these incidents involved cyclists who did not wear or a helmet. Not to add, will guarantee a likelihood of a greater incapacitating injury.

I highly encourage you to explore the data yourself. (Link here)  Recreate your daily commutes, see the activity in your own zip code and see where your curiosity takes you. 

When and Where

 

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Books: Eviction by Matthew Desmond

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Every year, renters are evicted from their homes by the millions. And landlords and corporate investors are profiting off of these evictions. One of the major findings of Matthew Desmond’s research in his bestselling book, “Evicted,” was that evictions are not just a condition, but a cause, of poverty. After evictions, families are often compelled to accept substandard housing, and dealing with the aftermath of an eviction can lead to job loss. Eviction and housing instability also have serious mental health consequences. Recently, there have even been cases of landlords threatening immigrant tenants with deportations if they refuse to leave, if they make complaints about housing conditions, or if they challenge rent increases.

Evictions and displacement are violent and disruptive. They cut tenants off from their communities, schools, doctors, services, places of worship and their homes. Policymakers at all levels need to address the renter affordability crisis. They should support policies that strengthen the social and economic vitality of our communities. These policy opportunities include:

  • Tenant protections like just cause eviction and rent control ordinances, as well as eviction prevention. New York City was the first to provide legal counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction, the vast majority of whom go to eviction court without a lawyer. Baltimore and Philadelphia are among a growing list of cities considering similar tenants’ right to counsel laws.
  • Full funding for HUD: There are multiple federal funding sources for direct housing assistance (including public housing, Housing Choice vouchers and Section 8), but only one in four eligible families actually receives any kind of assistance. In many cities, the waiting list is measured in decades or closed. Each year, federal expenditures for direct housing assistance is just a fraction of what is spent on homeowner tax benefits (most of which go to wealthy families). Still, President Donald Trump’s administration and HUD Secretary Ben Carson are attempting to drastically cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget.
  • Community ownership of land and housing through the creation of community land trusts, as well as ensuring that public land is used for the public good, and not just sold to the highest bidder.
  • Diverse affordable housing strategies: The production of affordable housing (via affordable housing linkage/impact fees or inclusionary zoning), as well as the preservation of single-room occupancies (SROs) and “naturally occurring affordable housing.”
  • Living wages: The other piece of the housing crisis puzzle is stagnating wages and the need to raise the floor on low-wage work. From 2000 to 2015, median renter household income declined in real terms in 88 of the 100 largest U.S. cities. Policymakers and employers should support minimum wage increases and living wage ordinances.

Reading Eviction opened my eyes to the same neighborhood in Milwaukee that I have lived in for 6 years, however painful and necessary. Give these additional resources a read or check out the book yourself!

Think-Play-Send: How Climbers Solve Problems

” Years of personal climbing experience, countless climber surveys, and psychological research all point to mental strength as the most influential factor in whether a climber succeeds or not. Your body might be strong and willing, but if you don’t have an equally strong and willing mind, your body has nothing to guide it. The good news is that you can train your brain just like you train your body.”

Change how we approach a problem by first isolating the things we can improve on, and then making it a good habit to practice it. (Problems refer to the path that a climber takes in order to complete the climb.) In our path to mastering a skill, (in my case, rock climbing) we normally don’t take time to assess our weaknesses and things what we need to improve on. We often forget it’s a journey. That’s when I realize, climbing, like any skilled behavior, is learned.

Solution: Be patient with ourselves and with how we approach problems. Thanks to Climbing.com, rewrite the mental scripts of climbing into these 3 simple steps: Think, Play, and Send.

thinkplaysend480

Think

This phase is all about the beta: “analyze your climbing for areas where you can improve. Self-examine and gather input from others to figure out the skills to focus on and develop that will improve your climbing.” Most climbers are very fixed on doing a problem 10 times, changing a foot hold or trying a drop knee, continually failing and burning their physical strength. This step encourages us to spend more time analyzing our actions and reflecting on our climb.

However, most of us don’t like to hear that we have things to improve on. Sometimes, our fear of being challenged  propels us to get defensive, letting our egos negatively affects how we climb. We have to let go of our own egos, ask for help and simply listen. Climbing is a humbling experience. Climbing at great heights requires us to manage our egos.

       betamap1honnold-freerider-solo-1

Play

Before Alex Honnold approached the base of El Capitan for his free-solo attempt, or any route, he recreated a beta map in his head and could visualize every single sequence. Doing so, he was able to rehearse each move over and over.

Visualization is part of practice and play. When approaching a problem, climbers tend to visualize the overall image first. Once the human brain can perceive patterns, we allow our brains to react speedily without much thought. These actions are automatic, efficient and quick. This also prevents human errors from entering the equation. They require little conscious effort, allowing us to conserve valuable resources: attention, consciousness, and working memory, which are intimately linked and very limited.

“One of our greatest adaptations as humans is the ability to learn, to practice, and to turn intensive tasks that would usually take up the entirety of our working memory into automatic, scripted tasks.” The objective of play will not be about performance, but the repetition of movements or thoughts that will rewire our brain and make climbing a sequence automatic.. This method of repetitious practice is called over learning. Doing so, we are able to reliably produce it under pressure, and experience less anxiety. No judgement here is allowed when we are playing, just ask kids.

Send it!

That’s one of the things I love about rock climbing. Despite toying with our fears, we are able to shut our brains off. Constant practice and repetition replaces having to think through each move. Our bodies automatically perform the moves without any active thinking. Finally, we put the skills to the challenge. We solidify new habits that we created by applying it to the real world. Queue feelings of emotion and excitement.

By continuing the Think-Play-Send process with other weak spots in climbing, or in life, we are able to improve our performance and really be less forgiving of ourselves and have more fun along the way.

Books: “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger

Reading ‘Tribe’ at the end of this tumultuous 2017 year was necessary. As I performed my end of the year reflections, highlighted the accomplishments of moving to a new city and projected my place in society, it was a great reminder of the simple ideas we have forgotten. How much we have grown apart from each other. But at the core, continues to yearn for a sense community. While I wish he added more valid references and data, the ideas were true.

  • “Personal gain almost completely eclipses collective good.” The dangerous feeling of being alone, despite being surrounded by others, is not how we usually how human nature interacts. Financial independence and accumulation of wealth leads to isolation. This is no news, but how modern society frames it, is that the poor people are interreliant and share their time and resources, living in closer communities.
  • “First agriculture, and then industry, changed two fundamental things about the human experience. The accumulation of personal property allowed people to make more and more individualistic choices about their lives, and those choices unavoidably diminish group efforts toward a common good. And as society modernized, people found themselves able to live independently from any communal group.”
  • Adversity and disasters prompt us to depend on one another: “If anything, he found that social bonds were reinforced during disasters, and that people were overwhelmingly devoted their energies toward the good of the community rather than just themselves.” THis reminds me of Rebecca Solnit’s interview at On Being, were she talked about disasters being a way of reinforcing community and social resilience. This is why people coming back from war, or large environmental disasters feel a solid bond and solidarity with others, even missing the feeling. It isn’t due to danger or loss, but the sense of community and unity it engendered. I am reminded of how veterans feel a sense of discord towards the life they left before war. They return to a life that is cold, mechanical and lacks brotherhood.
  • But when else can we remind ourselves of our role in the community? “The beauty and tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good.” It’s not our primary role to be a neighbor anymore or to help each other out. In times of emergencies, we rely on policemen and firefighters for relief. What are the reasons nowadays and causes that prompt us to risk our lives? We can live our whole lives without asking that question. For some, it becomes a relief, but to society, a significant loss.

We need to create a society that once again encourages and allows each other to be close to others, as opposed to alienate each other. Rather than living in a society that is at war with itself, we need to focus on the parts of the society that work hard to keep it running, the ones that let us live comfortably and away from discord. Harbor that connectedness rather than acting in trivial but selfish ways. Most importantly, we need to focus on the things that unite us.  

Coding: Random Writing Prompt Generator

I’ve been working on this project for the last three days. I admit, the first day was spent looking for a good theme/idea and the last two was dreading to start the Javascript portion. I was really happy how it all came together, I can spend more time fixing the font sizes and playing around with it, but I think it’s time to move on to my next project. I appreciate any feedback!

Creative Writing Prompt Generator

  • A random quote generator that spits out a new creative writing prompt every time you click on ‘next’
  • When ‘write on!’ is clicked, the current prompt can be shared via twitter in a new window.
  • The back end is connected to Google Sheets.
  • Prompts are from SF Grotto’s 642 Things to Write About
  • I wanted the theme to be minimalist, exuding those millennial vibes that I love to hate. That means, peachy pink gradients, Roboto fonts, and contrasting bold blue blocks

Randon Writing Prompt Generator

Concepts I learned and problems I overcame during this project:

HTML: Open Links in a New Window or Tab by using adding a target=”_blank” attribute to your links (anchor tags). It’s worth noting that this method primarily works in desktop browsers. target=”new” can be used on mobile browsers.

Use a Google Spreadsheet as your JSON backend. I didn’t exactly use an API for this project because I had a specific idea of what I wanted the prompts to be (creative writing prompts for 642 Things to Write About). I used Google Sheets to create a list that would be pulled and linked  to my JSON backend. Doing so, I can add and quickly edit the growing list of creative writing prompts. First publish the sheet and obtain the Key from the URL and pasting it on ‘Put Key Here’. CoderWall had a great resource, I didn’t need to obtain the API from Google. (I have yet to experiment with API, yikes!)

For my own development, I broke down the pure JSON data into objects, until I found the column and item I wanted from the array.

$.getJSON("http://cors.io/spreadsheets.google.com/feeds/list/PUT-KEY-HERE/od6/public/values?alt=json", function(data) {
  //first row "title" column
  console.log(data.feed.entry[0]['gsx$title']['$t']);
});

Add JQuery script in Codepen’s JS Settings. At first I was wondering why my Jquery code was not working, and then I learned how to ‘quick-add’ JQuery in the settings, no need to write a single line of code. However, codepen, will still allow us to just SCRIPT up resources, as well. (That means, adding the resources to the HTML in the head section.) Super helpful, here’s additional resources on Adding External Resources on CodePen.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://website.com/style.css">
http://website.com/script.js

Twitter’s Dev Documentation on the Tweet Button.  Twitter has an amazing documentation on adding the Tweet Button. While I started using the Tweet Button on my project, I ended up just breaking it down to opt for a simpler anchor to be able to parse the links in text and add to the minimalist feel.

Dynamically change Tweet Button “data-text” attribute. This can only be done once, as discussed here, where changing the data-text attribute can be done before loading the script.

<a href="http://twitter.com/share"
 class="twitter-share-button"
 data-text="This is what we want to change dynamically"
 data-count="none" data-via="chris_camps">Tweet</a>

<script> 
$(document).ready(function(){
    $('a[data-text]').each(function(){
      $(this).attr('data-text', "This works!");
    });
    $.getScript('http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js');
});

Getting a random number between two values

function getRandomArbitrary(min, max) {   
return Math.random() * (max - min) + min; 
}

Additional Resources:

See the Pen freeCodeCamp: Random Writing Prompts by Angel Certeza (@acertz) on CodePen.

 

Reading: “The Last American Man” by Elisabeth Gilbert

“By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree. By the time he was ten, he could hit a running squirrel at fifty feet with a bow and arrow. When he turned twelve, he went out into the woods, alone and empty-handed, built himself a shelter, and survived off the land for a week. When he turned seventeen, he moved out of his family’s home altogether and headed into the mountains, where he lived in a teepee of his own design, made fire by rubbing two sticks together, bathed in icy streams, and dressed in the skins of the animals he had hunted and eaten. This move occurred in 1977, by the way. Which was the same year the film Star Wars was released.”

I was already wowed by how well-crafted Elisabeth Gilbert characterized the last american pioneer. But it took me 150+ pages in to realize that it was a true story. I became more emotionally invested in Eustace Conway and the philosophy he lives in. At times, I sense the tragedy and losing battles he has fought so hard to accomplish.

The Last American Man follows a modern day Davy Crockett survivalist, pioneer named Eustace Conway who lived the ways of Native American Indians to start his own life in the Appalachian Mountains. He is deeply attached to the environment, survival tactics and the original way of doing things. He believes that his true calling is to reintroduce Americans to the concept of revelatory communion with the frontier, seeing himself as the “Man of Destiny”.

“I am the teacher of all people,” he says and presents himself as an “epic masculine hero” His actions aims to reverse and undo the inherent corruption and greed and malaise of modern America. Our “constant striving for convenience, [is] eradicating the raucous and edifying beauty of our true environment and replacing that beauty…” Towards the end, Eustace failed to have a sensibility about the roles people play in the world and took things too seriously. He became too closed off in his own world of his mighty dogma. In moments of grief, he always searches for logic and for answers. He may have accomplished multiple transcontinental journeys and accomplishments but failed to cultivate genuine relationships.

Apart from the characterization of Eustace, it is also a commentary on the fragile state of male identity and America. America is one of the few places in the world that celebrates old tales of the self-sufficient single male pioneers like Daniel Boone and Lewis and Clark, conquering lands and disregarding females. It serves as a reminder of the things we have forgotten and fought for that lead us to where we are now. The author poignantly ends in the epilogue:

“The history of Eustace Conway is the history of man’s progress on the North American continent. First, he slept on the ground and wore furs. He made fire with sticks and ate what he could hunt and gather. When he was hungry, he threw stones at birds and blew darts at rabbits and dug up roots from the ground, and so he survived. He wove baskets from the trees in his domain. he was a nomad; he moved on foot. Then he moved into a teepee and became a more sophisticated trapper of animals. He made fire with flint and steel. When he mastered that, he used matches. He began to wear wool. He moved out of the teepee and into a simple wooden structure. He became a farmer, clearing the land and cultivating a garden. He acquired livestock. He cut paths into the woods, which became trails and then roads. He improved the roads with bridges. He wore denim.

He was first an Indian, then an explorer, than a pioneer. He built himself a cabin and became a true settler. As a man of utopian vision, he now sustains himself with the hope that like-minded people will buy property around Turtle Island and raise their families as he will someday raise his … He evolves before our eyes. He improves and expands and improves and expands because he is so clever and so resourceful that he cannot help himself. He is not compelled to rest in the enjoyment of what he already knows how to do; he must keep moving on. He is unstoppable. And we are also unstoppable. We on this continent have always been unstoppable. We all progress, as de Tocqueville observed, ‘like a deluge of men, rising unabatedly, and driven daily onward by the hand of God.’ We exhaust ourselves and everyone else. And we exhaust our resources — both natural and interior — and Eustace is only the clearest representation of our urgency.”

Other ideas:

We seem to have stopped paying attention.

It seems that we have fallen out of step with our natural cycles of the seasons that, for millennials prior, have defined our existence. “Having lost that vital connection with nature, the nation is in danger of losing its humanity.”

If we don’t cultivate our own food supply anymore, do we need to pay attention to the idea of, say, seasons? Is there any difference between winter and summer if we can eat strawberries everyday?

How can a man operate in a society when there is no longer a clear path for him?

“What happens to young people in a society that has lost all trace of ritual? Because adolescence is a transitional period, it is an inherently perilous journey.But culture and ritual are supposed to protect us through the transitions of life, holding us in safety during danger and answering confusing questions about identity and change, in order to keep us from getting separated from the community during our hardest personal journeys.” “How is a modern American boy supposed to know when he has reached manhood? When he gets his driver’s license ? When he smokes pot for the first time? When he experiences unprotected sex with a young girl who herself has no idea she’s a woman or not?”

Problem solving because that’s the only thing we can do.

It’s a rare skill that we have to accomplish, being able to “improvise in the face of disaster”. Playing video games, for instance, Oregon Trail and being detached from the danger through a virtual screen allows us to take a step back once we fail and reach “game over”. We stand up from our desks, grab a beer and move out to our next task. On the contrary, Conway does endure all manners of hardship and does figure out how to rig something up when the axle snaps. He chooses to live in discomfort and he does, because he has to. People say “I want to do what you’re doing” in fact they probably don’t. We pride ourselves in the ease and convenience of our modern lives and when given the opportunity, we are not ready to walk away from it all. We could do it if we had to… but we won’t.

 

 

Projects: Setting Up a Local Server Environment

Alright, well this morning was off to a slow start. While the world anticipated Labor Day Weekend and getting the last modicum of work done, I read a chapter from a novel by Elizabeth Gilbert while drinking a hot cup of coffee and spent hours improving my chess notation. It was unproductive, alright.

After wrestling with the paralysis of being able to do anything and everything, I decided on a simple goal: make a WordPress site from scratch!

So far, I’ve only learned HTML, CSS and Javascript and stayed in the realm of the front-end and the comforts of the browser. I kept finding myself in situations and projects where I simply did not have any idea of what to do, where to start or what it entails. It was only evident that I develop a working knowledge of server environments and the back-end. Eventually, i’ll walk the walk and talk the talk as a web-developer.

 

icon-mamppro

How to get started: Set up local server environment on the computer

  1. Set up a local “LAMP Stack” style environment – http://localhost:8080
    • LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP(/Python/Perl). It’s an open source bundle of software applications that creates a dynamic web server environment. There is also MAMP and WAMP, for Mac and Windows, respectively.
    • Whether you have a PC or a Mac, just download MAMP and install it on your computer.
  2. I had a hiccup opening port 80 for Apache, administering as occupied, and found a simple solution on Stack Overflow:
    • Run MAMP
    • Click Preferences
    • On Preference window click Ports
    • While on Ports change Apache & Nginx Port to 8080.
      click ok
    • Start Servers.
  3. Along the way, I learned that Port 8080 is a place to host a secondary or alternate web server. It is commonly used for proxy and caching.
    • The computer has 65535 potential ports to use over the internet.
    • Your web browser works on port 80. Port 8080 is typically used for a personally hosted web server, when the ISP restricts this type of usage for non-commercial customers. If you were going to host your own website from your computer, you would prefer to be able to do so on port 80, since this would mean that anyone connecting to your computer wouldn’t have to add a port number to the end of the WWW address you paid for. They could just connect to it, or to your specific IP address, and they’d have the website visible in their browser, while being served from your desktop or laptop.
    • Some ISPs want to avoid people paying for a cheaper home connection, but using it for commercial webservice. So, they restrict access on port 80. To get around this, you can use whatever port you like. You could use port 12345 if you wanted to. Port 8080 is the just the default second choice for a webserver.
  4. Test PHP
    • I saved my html file to a php and opened it on the local server.
    • To test PHP, we can insert the pho tag anywhere into html. Anything that goes inside the opening tag of <?php and the closing tag of ?> work it’s magic on your server and return HTML.
      <p>Hello, world! The year is <?php echo date('Y'); ?>.</p>

      The code <?php echo date(‘Y’); ?> uses a date function to find the year. The HTML interpreted is just “2017”.

Yay, I  now have a local server and run all the PHP code I want!!!

 

apache_feather

Next Step: Setting Up Virtual Hosts

I’ve successfully added a virtual host from allowing virtual hosts on Apache, allowing SymLink Override and to adding a virtual host path. But I got absurdly stuck on removing the :8080 from the end of the URL.

The problem can be reframed from my inability to open up port :80 for Apache. Since I’m not focusing on working on multiple websites yet, which the Virtual Hosts allows me to do, I decided to move on and focusing on my local host. I was comforted by the fact that there was an absurd amount of people who were facing the same problem as I. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any solutions after disabling countless Services and Programs and playing with the configuration files. If you guys have any fail proof ideas on how to open up port 80 for Apache, let me know!

Now that I’ve set up the local server environment and I can pretend like I know that back-end like the back of my hand, it’s time to move on to the main event, WordPress. Stay tuned, self! Can’t wait to see what I come up with.