Wendy Oldfield

Designer obsessed w/ ketchup and garden gnomes.

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How many red lights do I hit on an average week day?

I live in Southern California and traffic can be a nightmare during the week. Most of the time I avoid the freeway and take side streets to/from work. There are some days when it feels like I hit almost every single red light, and others where it's smooth green sailing all the way home. I thought this could be an interesting set of data to record for a week and see if I can notice any kind of trend.

Data that I'm considering tracking:

  • Total number of red lights hit in a day (day = time between waking up and going to sleep)
  • Total number of red lights hit in a trip's duration (trip = Point A to Point B)
  • Time that I left the location
  • Time that I arrived at the destination
  • Total time of the trip
  • Weather conditions
  • My mood
  • MPG (I drive a Prius C that tracks this fairly accurately)
  • Might need to include a note on whether I decided to take the freeway for a trip or not. I usually check Google Maps before leaving work to see how bad the traffic is. If it's light (which isn't often), I'll take the freeway. Otherwise, I'll take side streets.

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DATA RECORDING

I was originally going to record a week's worth of data, but right now I'm too busy. So I decided to just focus on one day:

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SKETCHING

I came up with two sketches that could have worked, but I like this one the most (and I think it'll be able to display more data than the other one I had).

The general timeline for this would travel from top to bottom, and will be displayed as a road/freeway. The color palette will transition from warm colors to cool colors as the day progresses (morning = sunny and warm, evening = dark and cool). At each of the recorded time points I'll have a traffic light. The traffic light will be exaggerated. If, during the trip, I stop at 3 out of 5 lights, I'll display 3 red lights and 2 green ones, but all within the same traffic light frame. It will essentially act as a little bar graph. Then, next to the bar graph traffic light I'll have a "road sign" that has the location as the main heading, and then supplemental data will be listed below (MPG, distance, time). Then, I was thinking of making the timeline/road thicker to indicate freeway traveling and thinner for road traveling. In the background/white space areas I'll add hints of elements relevant to the area traveled. So, for example, my mailbox and the dietician are located in Newport Beach, so I might add some waves/sand in the background. At the bottom of the infographic I was thinking of adding a back and white checkered "finish line" flag to indicate the end of the day, and this will include the total number of red lights stopped at during the day.

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