Free the Crash Location Data!

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Mark Headd, Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer, confirms to me on Twitter that crash location data for Philadelphia is not yet publicly available. It is currently a To-Do list item on the City of Philadelphia’s Open Data Pipeline:

PennDOT and Streets Dept. maintain separate databases of crashes. PennDOT’s has more records and more attributes for each crash. Some agencies must be reporting to PennDOT but not to Streets. PennDOT’s are in an Access database. Streets are in a GIS layer that they maintain.

Here’s why this is an important: this data becomes politically useful once people are able to see where most of the car crashes happen. Are there particular intersections that are bad? Road space configurations that have worse safety results than others? Other problematic design elements?

Many times a road will see more crashes because it encourages drivers to go excessively fast in areas with lots of pedestrian traffic. Once we know which areas are bad, then we can ask the Streets department to prioritize certain areas for design changes like road diets, curb bump-outs, and bike lanes that slow traffic speeds down.

Safety is a powerful force in politics because no politician wants to get blamed for people’s injuries or worse as the result of a vote. Especially now that there is a Complete Streets plan, and City Council has awarded District members Councilmanic Prerogative over bike lanes, and we will soon see lots of new cyclists on the street due to bike share, this is an important data set for cycling and livable streets advocates to wield at civic meetings.

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

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