Visualizing SDOT Open Data Bicycle Counts

Presenting an app for Seattle Open Data bicycle counters. Click the link to go to an interactive data tool for bicycle and pedestrian counts using Seattle Open Data from

If I knew how the Internet worked I would embed the app in the Stats on the Street website, but, given my limited knowledge, the existence of this tool is mostly thanks to the brilliance of Hadley Wickham and the folks at Rstudio. The GUI is hosted through Rstudio Shiny Apps, and I pretty much bought the cheapest plan possible, so hopefully some people get some good use out of this, but not too many people or too much use…

Note that SDOT maintains data dashboards for the Fremont Bridge and Spokane St bike counters, but I was curious about all of the available bike counter data. Fans of the show probably noticed that my project to visit the counters individually and write about it got sidetracked last winter (along with basically all of my Stats on the Street projects), but I am hoping to continue this summer. Find here detailed write ups of the Burke Gilman at Sandpoint and the Chief Sealth Trail in South Seattle. While the SDOT dashboards appear to have access to data uploaded daily, the public urls (refer to the “Notes” tab on the data tool) see only monthly uploads.  Continue reading “Visualizing SDOT Open Data Bicycle Counts”


Stats on the Street Editorial Board: State of the City

So, um, economics. In the State of the Union address this week, the president gave an optimistic assessment of the American economy (and America in general). In the latest GOP debate tonight, the candidates universally offered an apocalyptic rebuttal: an alternate description in which the country is on the verge of collapse.  I can’t speak for most of America, but thought it might be worthwhile to share my assessment of the area in which I live, the Puget Sound region.

Seattle’s economy right now is booming. In fact, it is booming so much as to basically outpace the ability of infrastructure and local governance to respond. The huge influx of people and money to what has become an exceptionally productive labor market has resulted in surging real estate prices, and tremendous strain on the transportation network. Most of this region was built under the vision of single family houses and private automobiles, and it seems as though under this current wave of growth we have crossed some sort of tipping point where that arrangement fundamentally doesn’t work anymore.

Continue reading “Stats on the Street Editorial Board: State of the City”

District Smackdown: Episode 4. Maddux vs Johnson

“The SECB has real concerns Michael Maddux might work himself into a quaalude stupor and be found parked on some Laurelhurst lawn muttering about how it all could have gone so well for him in Northeast Seattle’s District 4. (The phrase “our very own Rob Ford” was actually thrown around in our meetings.)” – The Stranger Election Control Board, August 2015 Primary

So something interesting happened in Seattle this year, which is that the entire city council was up for election, thanks to a measure passed in 2013 to establish district candidates. The measure established seven districts, with two at-large positions filling out the nine member council. The map below from shows the locations of the new districts.


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Public Bike Share, Pronto!

Welcome back to the Stats-on-the-Streetsiest city blog in town! Today’s topic is bike share.

Bike share offers a unique transportation solution within cities. In a dense urban core often a car is more trouble than it’s worth, the bus may not conveniently traverse the necessary route, and while a personal bicycle provides more unconstrained mobility, it also presents the problem of what to do with your bike while at your destination. Who wants to worry about some jackass stripping their beloved bicycle while enjoying the theater*? Public bike share provides the mobility of a bicycle without the liability of your own property.

Many major American cities have launched bike sharing services in recent years, such as the well-known Citi Bikes of New York City, Divvy of Chicago, and Capital Bikeshare in the nation’s capital. Seattle managed to jump in front of their Cascadia Cup rivals Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada by starting the Pronto bike sharing system in 2014 spanning downtown, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, and the University of Washington.

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Seattle Bridge Openings

Water transects and surrounds Seattle. This is a city with bridges, and a city with ample maritime traffic, be it trawlers, barges, sailboats, yachts, kayaks, or even stand-up paddleboards. (Pro tip SUPers: don’t tackle the Montlake Cut during yachting hours, it goes poorly.) Tall freeway bridges arc over the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Duwamish waterway, towering over tiny boats below, but many smaller bridges must open to accommodate marine traffic.

Last month Seattle Director of Transportation Scott Kubly announced plans to seek Coast Guard permission for limiting pleasure craft bridge openings. The Seattle Times story is here. The relevant SDOT page is here. Many commuters are probably familiar with the somewhat predictable 6pm opening of ship canal bridges: while federal law stipulates priority for maritime over vehicular traffic, openings are not allowed during commute times of 7-9am and 4-6pm. However, the evening commute is clearly still in force at 6pm, and so these openings predictably snarl traffic. Should a single, recreational sailboat be allowed to significantly disrupt the commute? I mean, it sounds kind of silly, hence the push to further restrict pleasure craft openings.

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Better Know a Bike Counter: Chief Sealth Trail at Thistle Street

Remember Stephen Colbert’s thrilling 434-part series? This is just like that, only with Seattle area bicycle counters. Once upon a time I wrote about the Fremont Bridge bike counter at the Seattle Bike Blog. Now SDOT publishes data from nine bike counters, and the plan is to run through them one at a time, breaking down the trends and complaining about the poor quality of Seattle Open Data. Catch the previous installment here

So. South Seattle. Sure, everybody knows that there’s a daily pelaton, no, a downright army of white guys in spandex bicycling across the Fremont Bridge and racing each other up Dexter Avenue. You’ve seen them, every day of the year, with their flashy lights, clippy shoes, and boutique waterproof messenger bags, pedaling from north end neighborhoods to downtown jobs. But what about parts of the city that are perhaps not as traditionally white and prosperous? Does Seattle’s bicycle culture extend there as well?

Continue reading “Better Know a Bike Counter: Chief Sealth Trail at Thistle Street”

The Agony and the Tweetstasy of Mike McGinn

I somewhat recently learned how to download Twitter information into the statistical software R. To explore the data and possibilities I figured I should choose an interesting public figure and download their tweets. Who better than former Seattle mayor Mike McGinn?

First off, in the interest of full disclosure I am a big fan of Mike McGinn. He didn’t like the eventually troubled tunnel project. He promoted safety and non-SOV transportation mode choices. Go listen to his podcasts they are excellent. (Also, what’s up with MyNorthwest hosting the McGinn podcast? If Dori Monson and Mike McGinn are in the same building doesn’t that cause like a matter antimatter explosion or something?) I always liked when he went rogue and did something because it sounded like the right thing to do — like attempting to block a West Seattle Whole Foods out of concern for living wage jobs — rather than typical political maneuvering like sounding nice and playing nice and doing nothing.

Continue reading “The Agony and the Tweetstasy of Mike McGinn”