Caltrans district 4 bike survey maps

 data fun  Comments Off on Caltrans district 4 bike survey maps
Nov 232017
 

Earlier this year Caltrans conducted a survey, where you could drop “pins” on a map and specify examples of good bike infrastructure, where there are barriers to biking, and where new or improved bike routes are desired (all this on state-owned/maintained roads).

3,400 people took the survey, and dropped 20,000 such pins. The survey report contained many interesting insights, but still I was a bit disappointed that the output was not as interactive as the input. The included heat maps seemed too coarse to distinguish particular roads (except potentially some bridges):

Caltrans had shared the survey data along with the report*. When I asked around how one might re-construct interactive maps from it, my colleague Andi Gros suggested I try leaflet in R.

I did! So now you can see individual roads, pan and zoom thanks to OpenStreetMaps. 

There are also the individual comments people pinned to the map. There were just too many to plot together interactively without making my browser unhappy. 

So instead I attempted separate maps for

  1. Examples of good infra (The Stevens Creek Trail features rather prominently!)
  2. Barriers to biking (south of SF only), you can also attempt to load a map with all the comments.
  3. Places where new and improved bike infrastructure is desired, again you can try all the comments too.
  4. (circles only) Roads people would like to travel along or cross

So this Thanksgiving I am grateful for bikes, for people who bike, for Caltrans caring that there are people who bike, but most of all that we can have a sense of humor about transportation infrastructure.

 

 

* As a survey taker I wasn’t necessarily anticipating that the data would be available for download (I tend to not read instructions). But the comments I think are great to read and share. Do let me know if you find anything that should not be there. Thanks.

Recharge: a month of doing little

 random musings  Comments Off on Recharge: a month of doing little
Nov 212017
 

After working at Facebook for 5 years, I was eligible for a month’s “recharge” leave (thanks Facebook!). I opted to spend it in Croatia, with my mom.

Spending September in Croatia has eluded me for a long time. And when I did manage to fit in a couple of summer weeks in Croatia in the past, too often I’d spend them cramming¬† (while in school), or preparing courses I’d teach, or writing papers or grant applications, or cutting things short to travel to conferences. This gift of a recharge was the gift of doing nothing. At all. Even husbands and sons will want to do something fun and adventurous. They stayed behind.

My recharge looked approximately like this:

You may notice from the photos that I stayed in the same spot. Whomever I’ve told this to responded with, “I took a 2 week vacation between jobs once, any longer and I would have been bored to death,” or “We were stuck in Dubrovnik for 2 weeks once, we almost went crazy.” Not me, no need to budge. I may appreciate famous tourist attractions as millions of others do, but I never loved any other spot as much as I love this one spot.

Here I am for example in Venice:

And showing the same level of enthusiasm at some English castle:

[Not pictured: Roughly the same expression at Niagara Falls and number of other landmarks.]
Here, on the other hand, I am in Bol, Croatia.
I think that travel can lead to growth, and even superficial travel can be eye opening in youth when you first start exploring the world. But I think growth potential is limited if one does not pause and live somewhere a while.

Besides watching sunsets, I swam. A few storms and cooler weather chilled the sea (see goosebumps below from an October swim).

I had lots of time to contemplate what it means to be an insignificant little human on this planet (see also the Zoom of Life.)

My mom and I unpacked an old record player and listened to LPs while looking out at the sea and eating figs.

I drew. After practicing a bit I illustrated with doodles a short children’s book I’d written earlier, Poofthorn.

And then after practicing some more, I drew a short and silly comic, The Explorers Who Toot (Underwater).


That was it. That was recharge. Upon returning I felt mildly disoriented both at home and at work. And right before I returned I felt an acute finiteness, of life, of summer, of figs.

 

Last weekend I repainted some flowers on my ’91 Honda Civic, Miss Daisy. I’d done this first about 15 years ago, when the car was worth almost nothing, and now again when she is still worth nothing. But she’s worth a lot to me, and maybe even more so because she is not worth much to anyone else, and so I can modify her appearance without regret.

There are over a billion cars in the world. The vast majority look identical to thousands of others of the same make, model and year. Most people probably don’t want to modify their cars, even those who lovingly wash and wax them on weekends. But there must be many who would, if that wouldn’t instantly drop the resale value of their cars.

We spend a not-insignificant fraction of our lives in these metal containers on wheels, and the car is how many people, especially strangers, “see” us. The most we do is hang a little trinket from the rear view mirror. In a year or five, the car should look as close as possible to how it looked when it left the factory. Any modification should strictly increase its value for resale, even if we never recover the expense of the work. But when can one ever justify actually ruining resale value?

Same with houses we own. We not only have to consider our current needs, but the needs of the median buyer who may want to purchase the home years hence. This is not an empty fear. Real estate agents I’ve toured houses with rolled their eyes or chuckled at non-standard modifications, whether it was a converted garage or adventurously placed staircase or extra bathroom. And they would sigh sadly when a house had only 2 bedrooms, or did not meet some other standard requirement. I remember during the dot-com boom someone built a house in Mountain View that had purple turrets and such. Apparently the owner needed to sell it just a short while later, and someone remarked that they expected the owner had a lot of regret about the house.

At least most home-building animals, like rats, can make their home to their satisfaction without worrying about whether the rats to move in next will like it. Maybe birds who build for potential partners have it worse, that must be stressful. But for humans, I think it makes us behave like we are just temporarily utilizing the house we own. I once visited a friend who had bought a house in a new development. She explained that she and her husband had bought the big 5 bedroom house 3 years prior and remarked that they had not put up a single painting. Due to her husband’s job they expected to move in another 3 years (which they did), and they wanted their house at that future point to be the most pristine of any house on offer in the same development. She and others have bought big houses, not because they needed the space, but because such houses tend to keep a higher resale value.

If we ever remodel, I’d like to have backsplash tiles in the kitchen featuring cows being abducted by aliens, something I saw and bought at a street art fair (but now can’t figure out who the artist was). However, I might chicken out. If for some reason we need to sell the house, whether that is the following year or 30 years down the road, will it sell for less because a buyer might not want a kitchen embellished by cows being abducted by aliens? Probably. And this makes me sad. That we are living in tasteful, generic houses, driving generic cars, all striving for the same future salability.

© 2011 ladamic's blog Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha