How I made the bike crash map
I should start from the beginning.
In October 2010, two UIC students in Nina Savar's GIS class, Michael Carney and Sebastian Lew, emailed me asking if I could help them locate bicycle crash data. After a short investigation where I asked my colleagues for assistance, I was pointed towards a contact at the Illinois Department of Transportation. I emailed this person and a few days later received a shapefile of bicycle crashes extracted from motor vehicle crash reports. I let the students know how to obtain it and left things at that.
Fast forward to Feburary 2011 and the Bay Citizen news website in San Francisco posted the Bike Accident Tracker. I saw that they used Google Fusion Tables to quickly create a web application. I thought that I could do the same; I wanted to do the same, and I wanted to do it fast!
I threw my shapefile data into QGIS, then used its built-in function to add WGS84-projected XY coordinates and then exported itas a CSV file, which I promptly uploaded to Fusion Tables. Since this was my first time working with Fusion Tables, there were some hiccups and it took me a few hours to get the map to dispay properly. I created a simple webpage (this old one) and started spreading the news.
I didn't think it would be so popular.
More information on the map and crash reporting tool development (this never came to being).