Walkable cities contribute toÂ peopleâ€™s overall health, safety, and quality of life. This study prioritizes missing pedestrian walkways to help identify where investment should be focused in Indianapolis.
Although it has some very walkable areas of town, overall Indy ranks low in nationwide surveys of walkability (Walkscore.com). Recent efforts are underway in Indianapolis to enhance walkability, as demonstrated by its recently adopted Complete Streets Ordinance and the Health By Design et.al.Â Indy WalkWays initiative.Â AÂ large land area and limited budgetÂ requireÂ the City find tools and strategies to efficiently and effectively develop and maintain its infrastructure. This includes finding ways to prioritize theÂ types of pedestrian infrastructure needed to enhance walkability, and the location ofÂ that infrastructure.
The map shows the results from aÂ study ofÂ Indyâ€™s missingÂ pedestrian infrastructureÂ (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use paths). It reveals the gaps in pedestrian walkwaysÂ and prioritizes themÂ based on proximity to destinations, population density, and demographic factors that may contribute to an areaâ€™s particular transit needs.
Three basic assumptions are followed:
- You donâ€™t have walkability without destinations.
- Walkways should go where people are (i.e., population density).
- Certain social factors, such as age, income and education, may limit peopleâ€™s transportation optionsÂ thus making walkwaysÂ a higher need (and that need should be a factor in prioritizing pedestrian infrastructure).
About the Map
The map shows missing pedestrian walkways. The walkway segments are color coded from low to highÂ priority based on their proximity to available destinations, population density, and social indicators.
UsingÂ 2014 data of Indianapolisâ€™ existing pedestrian network* as a reference (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use trails), missing walkway segments areÂ mapped along primary and secondary arterial roads and collector streets that hostÂ major bus routes. TheÂ resulting mapÂ represent the gaps in the existing pedestrian network along the cityâ€™s main road corridors. Each missing walkway segment is then scored basedÂ its proximity to population density and social indicators (i.e., net social index concentrations). For example, segments shown in red (high priority) touch areas containing both high net population density and high scores for social indicators representing potential pedestrian infrastructure need, such as income, minority status, education, linguistic isolation, and age (2010 Census; 2013 ACS).
Additionally, missing walkway segmentsÂ received scores for their proximity to 5- or 10-minute walk radius aroundÂ destinations. Destinations includeÂ public libraries, college campuses, primary schools, secondary schools, vocational schools, museums, supermarkets, recreation facilities, greenways, parks, future Red Line bus rapid transit (BRT) stops, and city bus stops.
The scores for each segment are tallied and the results are used to rank the missing walkwayÂ segments from low to high in terms of their priority for future development.
For Further Study
This study shows one way that pedestrian infrastructure gaps can be prioritized for future investment, which is just one aspect of pedestrian infrastructure planning and management. Further areas of interest include: Where areÂ crosswalks and what is their importance in the pedestrian network? What is theÂ role ofÂ speed limit control in designing theÂ pedestrian network?Â What additional prioritization should be considered for Safe Routes to Schools initiatives?Â How do accident reportsÂ factor into identifying priorities? Should weÂ rateÂ short segments of missing walkways higher where pedestrian infrastructure otherwise exists (e.g., prioritizingÂ smallÂ gaps)?Â Where are we investing today versus where priorities have been identified?Â How do we balance the maintenance ofÂ existing infrastructure with the development of new pedestrian infrastructure?
* Special thanks to Kevin Kastner for providing the pedestrian network GIS data used in this study.
Editor’s note: The original article can be found on Dr. Jill’s webpage.