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Boston's first bike crash map

Posted by Rob Anderson  December 2, 2010 06:25 PM

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This is a stunning example of what a non-profit can do with government statistics, Google Maps, and a very dedicated volunteer. (Click on the image above to see a larger version, or — even better yet — click here to poke around the interactive version.) The map, created and published by the Boston Cyclists' Union, is visual representation of every bicycle-related crash that took place in Boston from May to October of this year.

Even though it currently only shows six months of data, the map is starting to tell an interesting story about bike use and bike accidents in the city. The Boston Cyclists' Union explains:

At a glance, where crashes happen seems to correlate more with topography and population density than the perceived “bikeyness” of the neighborhood. So Roxbury, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain have similar numbers and clusterings of crashes, but there are few crashes in the hilly parts of Highland Park (Fort Hill), Mission Hill, or the hills above Grove Hall in Roxbury. The biggest clusters of crashes by far happen in the flat and dense areas such as the South End, Back Bay, Downtown, and along Commonwealth Avenue, and the lowest numbers are in more suburban areas like Hyde Park and West Roxbury.

The Cyclists' Union plans on updating the map as more data become available, and that's when it will become incredibly useful. When the map tracks years of accidents, definite patterns will emerge. Patterns that anyone, from policy makers hoping to promote bike riding in the city to morning bike commuters looking to stay away from the city's most dangerous intersections, will be able to learn from.

If you're looking for more information about the map, WBUR's Adam Ragusea put together an interesting segment on the topic.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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