Introducing the traffic citations index

[flickr]photo:8098876561[/flickr]

Screenshot of Traffic Citations. 

It sometimes takes a long time to get the data one needs. The idea for a “citation tracker” came about a month ago. I created a list of the traffic infractions I wanted to track and then set about seeking them. The first stop was the Department of Finance. I knew they held the data for citations issued against “9-40-060”, or “parking or standing in a bike lane”, the trend on which I reported several times this year. It turns out they only had 3 of the 13 ordinances for which I requested data.

Go there now: Traffic Citations.

It has interactive charts for three violations:

  • 9-40-060: Parking or standing in a bike lane
  • 9-76-050 (b): Driving without proper headlights (or broken headlights)
  • 9-64-100 (d): Parking in a place that blocks a curb cut

The website will expand as more citation data is obtained. All datasets start in January 2011 and are aggregated monthly. I intend to update the citation index every 1-2 months. I might also use this opportunity to push City departments to open their data (#opendata).

For the moment, this tool is a proof of concept. I want to show the data and find the meaning later, but there’s a backstory: I started tracking bike lane blocking citations because I wanted to know, first of all, if citations were being issued. Then I got more curious and wondered if the “right” violations (read: dangerous, annoying, or causing traffic inefficiencies) were being enforced. An example of one that’s all three is parking in a bus stop: the bus needing to stop there discharges passengers into the street (dangerous and annoying) and possibly into the path of bicyclists, as well as delays rear traffic.

The citations that will be tracked in the future appear on the Traffic Citations website under “coming soon”, a diverse group. If you have a suggestion for a traffic citation to track, name it in the comments and why you think it’s significant to track it.

One thought on “Introducing the traffic citations index”

  1. Do you think that tracking cell phone/distracted driving citations would show much? I’d be curious to see how many of those citations are issues. My gut feeling is that the number may be annoyingly small, given the scale of the problem. Perhaps we might be pleasantly surprised.

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