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Posted by Allegra East on Sep 15, 2017

WHO RIDES THE BUS: Examining Transit Ridership in Marion County

Our September 14 SAVI Talks! program, WHO RIDES THE BUS: Examining Transit Ridership in Marion County, addressed a timely and interesting topic regarding public transit in Indianapolis. The event showcased findings from The Polis Center’s newest report, WHO RIDES THE BUS: Examining Transit Ridership in Marion County.

Kudos to report co-authors Kelly Davila, MS, Senior Research Analyst; Matt Nowlin,  MURP, Research Analyst; Unai Miguel Andres, MS, SAVI GIS technician; and Debra Hollon, MS, GIS Analyst, who compiled a rich and meaningful report.

They combined information from the recent IndyGo survey with a variety of neighborhood socio-economic factors from the SAVI community information system to better understand how and why certain groups of riders used the service.  The report provides general audiences with an informed geographic approach to transit to see how place plays into the equation.

Attendees also learned more about IndyGo’s expansion of transit service in Indianapolis through the implementation of the Marion County Transit Plan from Bryan Luellen, Vice President of Public Affairs, IndyGo.

Another highlight of the morning was the excellent discussion let by moderator Matt Shafer Powell, Chief Content Officer, WFYI,  on related report concerns from various perspectives by esteemed panelists: Karissa  Hulse, Director of Development & Operations, IndyHub; James Taylor, Executive Director, John H. Boner Community Center; and Michael Twyman, PhD, Principal/Owner of InExcelsis Consulting.

Takeaways from the program include:

  • Half of the riders at this time commute to and from work, especially those with lower income.
  • Riders are a cross-section of people from nearly every neighborhood and economic status in Indianapolis. Some people rely on bus service in a life-sustaining way; others are becoming more willing to use it, but it is evident that is a different choice system.
  • Riding the bus is to a degree a social justice issue in Indianapolis.
  • Use of transit promotes economic mobility and improves educational, housing, and health outcomes.
  • Transit promotes social mobility, reducing social isolation by providing a link to shopping and social activities.
  • We need to work on changing the perception of using public transit in Indianapolis.  It is simply a means to get about, an affordable transportation option particularly when combined with affordable housing, and it connects people and the community.
  • The motivating factors for people moving back downtown is very different from what it used to be. These typically younger individuals are more inclusive and tolerant of differences and consider viable public transit for everybody the number one most important issue in their decision to stay in Indianapolis long-term. They want to choose transit but frequency, safety, and comfort are deciding factors.

If you missed the event, you may enjoy the PowerPoint presentations of Bryan Luellen and Kelly Davila and Matt Nowlin and download the report.

Most importantly, we thank our program partners: IndyGo, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, WFYI, The Polis Center at IUPUI, the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts, and IUPUI.

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Posted by Allegra East on May 2, 2017

SAVE THE DATE! SAVI Talks! Unequal Access: Tobacco Retail in the Indianapolis Metro Area

Due to some scheduling conflicts, we have had to move the date for our SAVI Talks! program on tobacco access in Indianapolis to Thursday, June 29, from 7:45-10:00 a.m. at WFYI, 1630 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202. We hope you will still be able to join us as the forum promises to be very enlightening!

The event will address highlights from the new report, Unequal Access: Tobacco Retail in the Indianapolis Metro Area, a companion piece to the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health (IU-FSPH) September 2016 Report on the Tobacco Epidemic in Marion County and Indiana.

Using socioeconomic data culled from the SAVI community information system, the density and proximity of tobacco outlets relative to vulnerable communities will be examined. Purchasing access to various smoking products is an important consideration when discussing community action to improve a community’s health. Studies show that tobacco outlet density and proximity are linked to tobacco use–particularly in poor areas.

The presentation will feature a panel of experts on the topic including:

  • Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, FACHE, Professor and Founding Dean, IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health
  • Bryan Mills, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Health Network
  • Moderator: Carmel Wroth, Managing Editor of WFYI’s Side Effects Public Media

We’ve invited a few other panelists and will share event details soon

Indiana consistently ranks as having one of the highest smoking prevalence rates in the nation. The most current data (from 2015) shows that one in five adults were smokers. Members from healthcare and business sectors in Indiana have been working to address this alarming issue from several angles.
Sponsored by the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health with the support of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, IUPUI, the Polis Center at IUPUI, the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts, and WFYI.

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Posted by Ian Adams on Apr 27, 2017

How Does Tree Coverage Relate to Built and Natural Environment?

This post comes from Ian Adams, our undergraduate Service Learning intern this semester.

In light of Arbor Day this week, let’s talk trees in Indianapolis. As a whole, one-third of Indianapolis’s total land area is covered by tree canopy. Out of the 99 neighborhood areas in the city, 20 of them are at least 50% tree-covered. Among the highest tree-populated neighborhood areas are Eagle Creek, Lawrence-Fort Ben-Oaklandon, and Traders Point. However, not all of the highly wooded neighborhoods are large. Many of them are densely forested, smaller neighborhood areas such as Ravenswood, Crows Nest, and Forest Manor.

IndyVitals.org provides data on 99 neighborhood areas around Indianapolis. We will compare tree coverage to other indicators of the built and natural environment, like park access and permeability. We divided neighborhood areas into urban and rural, based if they mostly contained US Census defined “rural” census tracts or “urban” census tracts.

Permeable Surface (Water Penetrable)

A permeable surface lets rainwater soak into the ground, as opposed to surfaces like asphalt or roofs. Neighborhood areas with a high percentage of permeable surface have less stormwater runoff. Rain soaks into the ground rather than carrying pollutants like lawn chemicals, vehicle fluids, and agricultural chemicals to streams. Permeable surfaces help prevent combined sewer overflows, when heavy rains send untreated sewage into streams and rivers.

For urban neighborhood areas, there seems to be a possible relationship between tree coverage and permeability. For rural areas, however, there is not much of a relationship. In urban areas, open land may be more likely to have trees, but in rural areas open land can range from forest to farm.

In the chart above, 16 rural neighborhood areas are indicated by red and 83 urban neighborhood areas are indicated by green.

Walkability

A community’s walkability score indicates how easy it is for residents to travel around on foot from one place to another. The score is based on the presence of several elements: sidewalks, number of intersections, destinations, and public transportation. Noticeably, the most walkable area is Downtown. Other areas that score high are Broad Ripple, Near Eastside, and Forest Manor.

Walkability seems to have little relationship to tree coverage, even in urban neighborhood areas. This is an example of how the data driving the WalkScore may explain which areas are functional for pedestrians, but it cannot explain which areas are enjoyable for pedestrian. Because streets trees and other amenities can make walking more inviting and reduce the speed of traffic, it would be useful to have data that looks at the presence of trees, benches, and other amenities.

In the chart above, 16 rural neighborhood areas are indicated by red and 83 urban neighborhood areas are indicated by green.

Properties with Park Access

In rural neighborhood areas, those that rank high for park accessibility, such as Eagle Creek and Southeast Warren, have a dramatically higher percentage of trees than neighborhood areas with less accessibility to parks. For urban neighborhood areas there is no relationship between park access and tree coverage.

Why is the connection between trees and parks so strong in rural areas, but not in urban areas? The difference might be in what a park means in each context. Rural parks tend to be natural areas, and in Indiana that probably means forested areas. City parks can range from wooded parks to plazas. They even include facilities like White River Park and the Indianapolis Zoo, as well as all the parking at those sites. Rural parks may also tend to be larger than city parks, which means the characters of a city park would have less impact on the tree canopy of the neighborhood.

Conclusion

As Indianapolis continues to prosper from all corners of the city, it is important to keep the natural beauty that is already here in check. It is equally as important to keep trees in mind with future developments in every community. If you feel inclined to make a difference in cleaning up the city or polish up your planting skills, get in touch with organizations such as Keep Indy Beautiful (KIB). Teams of volunteers are constantly collaborating in countless projects to help Indianapolis thrive.  Check out the list of events that KIB has planned on their website in the near future and join the movement. KIB is also launching their Tree Canopy Planner and Mapping Tool on their website this Arbor Day. Check it out at http://www.kibi.org/. You can find out more about trees and other indicators in your community online at Indyvitals.org and SAVI.org.

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