July’s Data Chat – A write up of everything we discussed
Our Streets Chorlton Data Chat July 2021
As part of the work that Open Data Manchester is doing with Our Streets Chorlton, we are hosting monthly ‘data chats’. These are friendly and informal conversations around some of the data about Chorlton that we, and our local volunteers, have been collecting.
The aim is to get local people talking about the data about Chorlton that they themselves have helped to collect. The sessions are light touch and you don’t need to consider yourself a ‘data person’ to join – if you’re a resident of Chorlton, then these are for you.
During the session, we present some data, talk about what it tells us (and what it doesn’t tell us), explore any interesting patterns or insights, and try to answer any questions we might have.
After each one, we write a short summary of what was discussed, along with sharing links to the data, so that everyone can have a look in their own time.
We were in the middle of a heatwave, but even so, nine of us gathered online in the evening of Wednesday 21 July 2021 for our second monthly data chat.
As the ‘school streets mini project’ was carried out with Sustrans at Barlow Hall Primary School last month, we decided to delve into some of the traffic data collected here on Darley Avenue.
On 15 and 16 June 2021, a section of Darley Avenue was closed to everyone but busses, residents and blue-badge holders from 8 to 9am and 3 to 3.30pm.
Open Data Manchester and our team of Our Streets Chorlton Data Champions conducted two manual traffic counts – one before and one after the street closure – to get a better understanding of traffic here.
We also have a small number of automated traffic counters, called Telraams [telraam.net], located throughout the neighbourhood. Two of these have been placed in people’s homes on Darley Avenue, with one counting the traffic directly where the section of road was closed.
Manual Traffic Count Data
Firstly, we discussed the results of the manual traffic counts. While the Telraam counters can collect data round-the-clock, with fewer resources required, manual counts:
- offer locals a chance to take an active part in collecting data about them
- are generally more accurate
- allow us to capture much more granular data – we covered 15-minute intervals –rather than Telraam’s hourly blocks.
In the graphs below we can see the morning peak, for both cars and pedestrians, was between 8.30 and 9am, which was expected during the school run.
We also see an afternoon peak for pedestrians at 3pm – again, matching the school run.
The interactive version can be found here.
A number of school classes were off on the count days due to COVID-19, so we expect the numbers depicted here are lower than normal. This does, however, give a good indication of traffic levels, and the ebb and flow throughout the day.
Yet, what we do clearly see, backed up by data from our Telraam monitors on Darley Avenue, is that traffic on the street is generally very low outside of the school run.
Being on the ground also enabled us to get better insight and context. For example, the area is regularly used by driving instructors and so in some cases, we’re seeing the same car counted numerous times while doing loops of the area.
Comparing baseline versus road closure days
We also looked at some data from one of the Telraam traffic counters located on Darley Avenue.
The school-road closure took place on a Tuesday and a Wednesday, so we decided to take an average of all the other Tuesday and Wednesdays in June to create a baseline.
We then did the same for both road-closure days, to give us a sense of how road usage changed during those days.
The interactive version can be found here.
The baseline looks very similar to our own manual traffic counts. But, during the road closure, we can see a notable increase in the amount bicycles and pedestrians on the road. Although car numbers didn’t appear to decrease as much as we’d expect, this is very likely residents on Darley Avenue living within the road closure area and those coming from Godbert Avenue.
While this data isn’t that surprising, it does seem to suggest that, if school children feel they have permission and feel safe, they will use space on a road to cycle, walk and play. When coupled with anecdotal evidence from the street closure days themselves, teachers and parents were very vocal about how much safer they felt the road was – and how enthusiastic the children were.
We have a live document that logs all the data chat sessions, along with links to all the data explored. You can view and explore here:
The next data will take place on Wednesday 18 August 7 to 8pm. Register here: https://bit.ly/ODM-MDC3
We’ve been releasing a monthly data bulletin with a focus on the Darley Avenue area. It contains some of the data explored here, plus some more insights into things like air quality. You can view the June bulletin here.