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Westfield@87th

Nora Ranks High Among City’s Most Needed Sidewalks

For all its wonderful assets (like great schools, mature trees, shopping and Monon Trail), Nora still has some of the greatest need for pedestrian infrastructure. A recent study maps Indianapolis’ missing pedestrian walkways (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use paths) and provides a tool to help identify where investment should be focused. It reveals the gaps in the pedestrian network and prioritizes each missing section based on proximity to destinations, population density, and demographic factors that may contribute to an area’s particular transit needs.

Note: The College Ave Trail from 86th St to 91st St, one of Indy’s highest ranked missing walkways, is nearing completion!

About the Map

Missing pedestrian walkway segments are color coded from low to high priority based on their proximity to available destinations, population density, and social indicators.

Using 2014 data of Indianapolis’ existing pedestrian network* as a reference (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use trails), missing walkway segments are mapped along primary and secondary arterial roads and collector streets that host major bus routes. The resulting map represent the gaps in the existing pedestrian network along the city’s main road corridors. Each missing walkway segment is then scored based 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 segments received scores for their proximity to 5- or 10-minute walk radius around destinations. Destinations include 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 walkway segments from low to high in terms of their priority for future development.

City-Wide Efforts

Efforts are underway in Indianapolis to enhance walkability, as demonstrated by its recently adopted Complete Streets Ordinance and the Health By Design et.al. Indy WalkWays initiative. A large land area and limited budget require the City find tools and strategies to efficiently and effectively develop and maintain its infrastructure. This includes finding ways to prioritize the types of pedestrian infrastructure needed to enhance walkability, and the location of that infrastructure.

Westfield@87th

The map of Nora is part of a city-wide study of Indy’s Most Needed Pedestrian Walkways by Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Ph.D. Jill is a resident of Nora.

Westfield@87th

Walkability High on Nora’s Wishlist

Walkability is high on the list of priorities identified by attendees of the first Nora Alliance meeting – nearly half (48%) of the submitted comments revolve around sidewalks, trails, pedestrian connectivity, safe routes and walkability.

Safe communities are livable communities. Here we focus on a few of the critical safety concerns – our arterial roads – that call out for complete streets in Nora.

A Critical Safety Issue

A 2014 report, Dangerous by Design, by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition finds that ‘incomplete’ streets are a major culprit in the deaths of thousands of Americans every year. Arterials designed only for cars, such as Ditch Road, College Avenue, and Westfield Boulevard in Nora, are the most dangerous.

Westfield Blvd needs complete streets
Westfield Blvd needs complete streets walkable bikeable

We’ve all seen it – school kids, families, elderly, handicapped, bikes, cars and buses sharing some of the same Nora streets every day (and night). There are a few particular offenders. These are arterial streets near schools, churches, shopping, and bus stops, having typically 40-MPH speed limits and no shoulder. The lack of sidewalks and/or off-street multi-use paths poises serious concern for pedestrians and motorists alike.

In the United States, in the decade from 2003 through 2012, more than 47,000 people died while walking on our streets. That is 16 times the number of people who died in natural disasters during in the same ten years. In 2012, pedestrians accounted for nearly 15 percent of all traffic deaths, up 6 percent from 2011 and representing a five-year high.

What Do You Think We Need For Nora?

As we work together towards proactive planning and livability issues, let’s look at how to make Nora’s streets safer for everyone.

Last summer (July 2014), City officials reached out and asked for what the public wants to see done.

“So we encourage them to contact their councilors, come with letters for them to sign that we can deliver to their councilors,” said Department of Public Works spokesperson Stephanie Wilson. “You know, anything we can do to continue to draw attention to the need for the Rebuild Indy 2 plan and get people excited about it and let them know it’s not going to happen unless they contact their representative.” (WTHR)

If we are asked again, will we have a collective response for the Nora area? Use the comment section below to share your story about walkable / bikeable streets.