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!

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.

 

Climb that mountain, but keep going!

There’s a lot of be learned from Alex Honnold’s successful free-soloing attempt of Yosemite’s El Capitan in 4 hours. This guy really sees the world differently and certainly has no fear.

In his interview with Nat Geo, he described most of the things during his climb as “ultra-chill”, “super chill” or just overall chill. “I didn’t feel that stressed because in a way I had already committed to autopilot and just put everything aside,” he noted on the base of El Cap. His strategy was to treat it like “a super normal day”. He was not phased by how much of a big deal it was. He didn’t even tell his mom (because “She’s really bad at differentiating between free climbing and free soloing.”)

The biggest thing I took away from following his journey was his humility.He had been working on this dream for 4 years, training and familiarizing himself with every pitch and every hold. Although knowing him, everything he’s done so far probably contributed to his accomplishment.  Summiting El Cap was not the end and certainly was not a reason to retire for rock climbing. 

During his climb, he was already thinking about his next goal (sport climbing 9a) and the importance of the US staying in the Paris Accord. He focused on things that was beyond his current limits, as though his current goal is a stepping stone to the next. And it is. You’ve got to keep going. Remind yourself of the bigger issues out there. Focus on achieving the best version of yourself. One day at a time, you can work to anything you set your mind to. See where life takes you on the other side of fear. And maybe, try not to die along the way.

For now, I’m just happy his next project involves ropes. Thanks for being a true inspiration, Alex Honnold. 

“The whole pursuit of this dream has allowed me to live my best life, that makes me hopefully the best version of me. Just because I’ve achieved a dream doesn’t mean that I just give up on the best version of me. I want to be the guy that trains and stays fit and motivated. Just because you finish a big route doesn’t mean that you just quit.”

Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

$14K. That’s the price of the coding bootcamp that I was accepted to. That’s the price of quitting my current job as a consultant, applying for more loans to add to the current student loans I have in order to successfully pivot away from my career in healthcare finance and finally follow my creative passion in web development.  I never typically prescribe myself into traditional pathways to success. I was always limited by my means and learned how to thrive within my restrictions. However, I was able to reason to myself that $14K was the price of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As the dust of decision making starts to settle in, I am submitted by how far I’ve come (I got accepted to a coding bootcamp) and how many times I have been declined of loan application and payment programs. These are not news to me. I’m used to this by now, I tell myself.

I’ve never doubted the decision to go to a coding bootcamp, but the financial realities of paying for it has set me back to reality. Is it really all worth it?

“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people any more that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people who dream, and support, and do things.” —Amy Poehler

Reading: “Imagine: How Creativity Works” by Jonah Lehrer

Notes:

Ideas & creativity

  1. Hopelessness → Revelation: The hardest work always comes after when you’re trying to make Idea to a Reality
  2. The right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for making sense of the whole (not just seeing the parts).
  3. The human imagination has no clear precursors. It’s out of no where.
  4. William James: “The [creative process] is like a seething cauldron of ideas, where everything is fizzling and bobbling about in a state of bewildering activity.

Persistence is necessary. Nothing good is every easy.

Creativity as an Act of Unconcealing.

  1. That’s because we see nothing at first glance. It’s only really thinking about something that we’re able to move ourselves into perceptions that we never knew we had the capacity for. We unconceal the reality of it from the clutter of the world, by all the ideas and sensation that DISTRACT THE MIND. it is the KNIFE OF CONSCIOUS ATTENTION to cut away the excess and reval the things themselves. → RAW ←
  2. Einstein: “creativity is the residue of time wasted.”
  3. Steve Martin: “Naivete is the quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.

On cities

  1. Cities are INEXHAUSTIBLE SOURCE OF IDEAS.
  2. With each addition, productivity and innovation increases.
  3. This is what makes it rare and different from corporations.
  4. Walking speed of people are directly correlated to creation of new ideas.
    1. MOST COLLISIONS!
  5. Ideas become more USEFUL when they become more POPULAR
  6. The unifier for all ideas and people. How every creative story is different but also the same. “Out of nothing, is something.”

Brands

  1. Used to be about establishing AUTHORITY and reliability. Now, it’s all about EMPATHY.
  2. Used to attract us through specs and capabilities, now, it has to ENABLE AN EXPERIENCE.
  3. Newness: the thrill of discovery but also the thrill of not having to decide.
  4. Using narrative is the delivery vehicle, a way to emphasize and empathize with human interaction.
  5. brands help us understand the world and make decisions.
  6. How we remember (chronology + nostalgia)
    1. [Arbitrary thing] + [Beginning, middle and End] = something we can own, embrace and share.
  7. We all tell our own stories, because we are all the leading character, and everyone has a supporting role.