WASHINGTON — As a public safety advocate, Michael Eichler said he wanted to know exactly how dangerous the blocks are in his Shaw community. The curiosity led him to create an extensive and robust dashboard that showed crash data throughout the District.
"I believe in data decision making and I think data can tell us where to spend our resources," Eichler said.
The ANC commissioner spent 10 hours of work creating the dashboard through a free data visualization software known as Tableau Public. He pulled information from the District's public data but revamped it even more by helping residents view crashes by specific blocks and streets.
"One of the challenges is that their map just shows dots and from a distance, all the dots overlap each other and it's hard to see the density of the problem spots," he explained. "My map takes those dots and links them to roadway segments and sizes and colors the roadway segments by the number of crashes so you can visually see the problems spots without having to do the math in your head."
His map, which Eichler said will still require more tweaking, can also be customized by date range starting from 2015. Some of the trouble spots that stuck out were parts of Georgia Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue near North Capitol Street.
Overall, there were 1,259 crashes in D.C. in January; that number was 1,524 the year before. As expected, the number drastically dropped to 632 by April 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Eichler suspects there's more to data than what it shows face value.
"One of the features I'm planning on adding soon is to actually divide that number of crashes by the actual of miles driven and we'll actually see an uptick in crashes per miles driven because of the lack of cars on the road increases speed," Eichler added.
He said there could also be a correlation between the increase in delivery services and motivation to do more trips to make more money and the ability to drive more quickly on the roadways.
Mayor Muriel Bowser started the Vision Zero initiative saying D.C. will have zero deaths and serious injuries to travelers by 2024. However, recent data showed a concerning trend steering safety in the wrong direction.
There were 37 fatalities in 2020, based on the Vision Zero Traffic Fatalities and Injury Crashes map, but 27 the year before.
On Monday morning, a bicyclist died near 10th Street and Michigan Avenue in Northeast after Children's National Hospital said its shuttle driver hit him. Police are still investigating the crash but say the bicyclist was crossing the intersection when the driver made a turn at the same time. The bicyclist's death is the sixth traffic-related death in the city since the start of the year.
Most recently on Tuesday morning, a Mt. Rainier officer was sent to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries after crashing into a pole, another vehicle and a fence in the 5100 block of Sheriff Road in Northeast, according to DC Police.
Officials with Mt. Rainier Police said they had no comment. DC Police couldn't say whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.
Neighbors in the area said there's been dozens of traffic assessment requests to DDOT over the years but no changes.