Strong Public Support of Marion County Transit Plan

Map shows strong support for transit among central and north Indianapolis voters.

November 21, 2016
Public Support for Transit Overwhelming;
Council Urged to Vote for Full Funding of Marion County Transit Plan

INDIANAPOLIS — Today, certified Election Board results show that voters overwhelmingly voted to fund The Marion County Transit Plan with nearly 60 percent support countywide. A majority of voters supported it in 79 percent of precincts as well. Constituents approved the plan in 19 of the 25 City-County Council districts and AARP of Indiana, the Indy Chamber and the MIBOR REALTOR® Association call on the Indianapolis City-County Council to promptly pass full funding for the Marion County Transit Plan.

“The Marion County Transit Plan will create greater connectivity to jobs and educational opportunities for residents across Indianapolis,” said Mark Fisher, chief policy officer for the Indy Chamber. “Voters have acted in support. It is time now for the City-County Council to respond accordingly and vote for the 0.25% increase to fully fund the plan so our city can benefit from improved transit access as soon as possible.”

“The Marion County Transit Plan not only increases home and property values, but assures an improved quality of life for our residents and our neighborhoods,” said Chris Pryor, vice president of government and community relations with MIBOR REALTOR® Association. “We want our communities to thrive and grow. The City-County Council has overwhelming approval of its constituents and must enact the increase at the full amount and help keep Indianapolis and our region moving forward.”

The Marion County Transit Plan will provide
• 70% increase in the frequency of bus service, offering every route on every day;
• later evenings and weekend service; and
• 3 bus rapid transit lines.

“Reliable bus service means that our friends and neighbors can get to their jobs, that our parents and grandparents can get to appointments and the grocery store, and that members of the community can access shopping and businesses, said Sarah Waddle, state director for AARP Indiana. “A better connected Indianapolis is essential to building a livable community for people of all ages. We ask that the City-County Council moves forward to enact the full plan and help make that a reality.”

Transit supporters are urged to contact their councillor by phone, email, and social media to express support for fully funding the Marion County Transit Plan and keep Indianapolis moving forward.
The final vote count by City-County Council district appears below.

Council District Yes Count Yes Percentage No Count No Percentage
1 9964 65.60% 5232 34.40%
2 12581 63.60% 7185 36.40%
3 11196 63.50% 6441 36.50%
4 9412 61.60% 5870 38.40%
5 9534 57.60% 7011 42.40%
6 7678 57.80% 5608 42.20%
7 10444 68.50% 4794 31.50%
8 9451 67.80% 4496 32.20%
9 10959 70.10% 4671 29.90%
10 6035 65.00% 3244 35.00%
11 9221 72.40% 3511 27.60%
12 7361 63.60% 4206 36.40%
13 6941 64.60% 3801 35.40%
14 6145 66.10% 3156 33.90%
15 5979 57.30% 4459 42.70%
16 4451 58.60% 3139 41.40%
17 8113 71.30% 3266 28.70%
18 5799 46.20% 6765 53.80%
19 6840 56.70% 5217 43.30%
20 5339 40.40% 7867 59.60%
21 5154 53.80% 4429 46.20%
22 4379 48.40% 4671 51.60%
23 6189 48.80% 6505 51.20%
24 5774 46.90% 6543 53.10%
25 7050 43.00% 9339 57.00%
TOTAL 191989 59.40% 131426 40.60%

Indy’s Most Needed Pedestrian Walkways

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Walkable cities contribute to people’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 ( Recent efforts are underway in Indianapolis to enhance walkability, as demonstrated by its recently adopted Complete Streets Ordinance and the Health By Design 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.

The map shows the results from a study of Indy’s missing pedestrian infrastructure (i.e., sidewalks and multi-use paths). It reveals the gaps in pedestrian walkways and prioritizes them based on proximity to destinations, population density, and demographic factors that may contribute to an area’s particular transit needs.

Three basic assumptions are followed:

  1. You don’t have walkability without destinations.
  2. Walkways should go where people are (i.e., population density).
  3. Certain social factors, such as age, income and education, may limit people’s transportation options thus making walkways a higher need (and that need should be a factor in prioritizing pedestrian infrastructure).

High ranking walkway segments (red and orange) would be considered among Indy’s most needed walkways.

About the Map

“Missing Walkways” are shown as lines on the map where there are gaps in the existing pedestrian network. These are mapped along primary and secondary arterial roads, and collector streets hosting major bus routes, using 2014 data of Indianapolis’ existing pedestrian network* as a reference. The missing walkway segments are ranked and color-coded low (yellow) to high (red) based on their proximity to destinations combined with proximity to areas of highest population density and concentration of people who may have limited transportation options (Net Social Index). 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).

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. High ranking walkway segments (red and orange) would be considered among Indy’s most needed walkways.


The map of “Missing Walkways” does not distinguish places where sidewalks may exist along only one side of a road, or where existing sidewalks may switch back and forth between different side of the road, nor the quality of existing sidewalks. It also does not evaluate the existence of crosswalks (another essential component to the pedestrian infrastructure). The data are not field verified. Sidewalks within neighborhood subdivisions and along minor collector streets are not considered by this study.

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 are crosswalks and what is their importance in the pedestrian network? What is the role of speed limit control in designing the pedestrian network? What additional prioritization should be considered for Safe Routes to Schools initiatives? How do accident reports factor into identifying priorities? Should we rate short segments of missing walkways higher where pedestrian infrastructure otherwise exists (e.g., prioritizing small gaps)? Where are we investing today versus where priorities have been identified? How do we balance the maintenance of existing infrastructure with the development of new pedestrian infrastructure?

Data Sources

City of Indianapolis GIS; IndianaMap; Indiana Department of Education; Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) Property Tax Management System; The Polis Center; US Census American Community Survey 2013 5-year Estimates; 2010 Census; 2015 Federal Poverty Level; US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EJ SCREEN.

* Special thanks to Kevin Kastner for providing the pedestrian network GIS data used in this study and for posting on Urban Indy. See Prioritizing Missing Pedestrian Infrastructure, Saligoe-Simmel (PDF) for detailed methodology and documentation of data used in the study.

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Written History Needs Maps

Guest post by Pieter S. Burggraaf, 2015

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.

– From the pen of Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)

The telling of history needs illustrative maps. In a rather simple view, history is the movement of people across geography in the past. Henry Walker and Don Bufkin captured this idea in their wonderful reference book Historical Atlas of Arizona. According to these authors, “History is the story of man—his actions, his comings and goings, and his settlements. As most of mankind’s actions and travels and the places” where men and women settled are “controlled by natural settings—terrain, climate, geography, and even geology—an understanding of the land is essential to an understanding of history.”(1)

Unfortunately, in so many books today about historic events, and even many of the classic books of yesterday, the text usually screams for a map to illustrate where events happened and what the people of the times thought they knew about the lay of the land. In many written histories, the maps used seem to have been an afterthought with authors or publishers plugging-in whatever they could find. Many times, the maps used do not provide the details that are necessary to support the text where the maps are called out. Often the maps used are disconnected from the period of history being discussed. Or, large maps are crammed into a small book format rendering them illegible.

When I began writing The Walker Party, The Revised Story my goal was to put equal effort into the many maps that I felt the work needed. It took some time for me to get map-making right—almost six months—but I eventually taught myself some basic cartography and developed techniques that suited my limited skills.

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So, I have created each map in this book to fit legibly on a book-size page. Where possible, I have based the background geography and the positions of rivers, towns, and other geographic locations upon a period map. Each of my maps includes notation about its source. In addition, some of the maps in this book include reproductions of the original hachures—the classic symbols for representing geologic relief in cartography—from the source map.

Readers who are familiar with the areas depicted on the maps in this book will undoubtedly find misrepresentations compared to today’s maps. These should not be considered errors as such, but rather indicative of the incomplete knowledge of the territories of New Mexico and Arizona at the time. This will help the reader understand why the people in this story were often off by many miles when describing where they were or where they were going, or in many cases simply had no clue as to their whereabouts.

Finally, I have written extended captions that enable each map to stand alone with its intended information. I believe that you will find the maps that accompany this revised, more expansive story about the Walker party very informative, and I trust that the text will be equally rewarding.

by Pieter S. Burggraaf, 2015

Notes for Written History Needs Maps:
(1) Henry P. Walker, Don Bufkin, Historical Atlas of Arizona, Second Edition (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press,1986), iii.

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Excerpt from The Walker Party, The Revised Story: Across New Mexico and Arizona Territories and up the Hassayampa River, 1861-1863, by Pieter S. Burggraaf, available from Used with permission. Read more about the book and view more of the maps in the Ortelius Showcase.

[Footnote to my readers: This article originally posted on the website, I thought it surely worth reposting. Forgive the shameless reference to my own commercial ventures.]

Indianapolis’ Most International Public Schools

Central Indiana is the epicenter of an explosion of English language learners (ELL). Where I live in Nora, our neighborhood elementary school is one of those hit hardest by rapid change. In April, The Star, Chalkbeat Indiana and WFYI Public Media collaborated on a week-long series of articles documenting the impact of the rising ELL population in Indianapolis’ schools. If you are interested to learn more, this well written article provides a back story to where we are today: As immigration reshapes Indianapolis, schools struggle to keep up.

To be sure, there are many interesting questions about the who and the why. But of course my favorite question is, “Where are those schools?” Using CartoDB’s web mapping tools, I created a simple multivariate map that displays the percentage of English language learners (ELL) school population and their relative size of enrollment. It is interesting to see the distribution of these high ELL schools, particularly noting those in Nora and Indy’s west side.

What the map doesn’t show is school performance. A few of the schools in red, those with the very highest ELL population in the state, also demonstrate high achievement. For example, on the west side of Indianapolis, in 2013-14, Carl Wilde School 79 received an “A” as its final letter grade for school accountability from the Indiana Department of Education. This is a school that consistently shows exemplary performance year after year. Nearby, Meredith Nicholson School 96 received a B as its final letter grade, a two letter grade increase from the previous year. With extremely high ELL populations, these school merit further study as examples of successful integration of ELL students without sacrificing school performance.

ESEA Reauthorization – Action Alert

An important letter from the Association of American Geographers (AAG) regarding authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):

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Dear AAG Members:

As many of you are aware, the AAG has been working diligently in recent years to promote the message that the next enacted version of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) should include a specific funding authorization for K-12 geography education.  Geography is specified as one of nine core academic subjects in the existing law but is the only one that does not have a dedicated funding stream.

We wrote to you a few months ago to let you know that Congress was considering a reauthorization of the ESEA, which is currently known as No Child Left Behind.  We have received many positive responses and heard from several individuals who reached out to their members of Congress.

– Action Alert –

We at the Association have had continuous interactions with Senators and staff members recently, and we have learned that the Senate Education Committee plans to mark up an ESEA reauthorization bill this week.  The good news is that, unlike early versions of the Committee’s legislation, geography is now named in the bill as a core academic subject, eligible for funding under the proposed bill.

One major dynamic that has impacted the composition of the draft legislation is a desire on the part of Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to streamline federal education funds into flexible block grants for states to apportion as they see fit.  While we will continue to stress the importance of dedicated national funding for K-12 geography, this new approach does present an opportunity for individual states to use these large block grants to fund geography in their K-12 education programs.  Regardless, the legislative process is far from concluded and we will continue to engage with Congressional leaders to promote the importance of funding geography-education initiatives as part of the ESEA.

In sharing our message with Congress, we have been using the “AAG Resolution Supporting K-12 Geography Education,” which we began circulating in 2010 and calls for funding of K-12 geography in the ESEA.  We also urge the Administration to include geography and geospatial education in its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) proposals.  The AAG Resolution has been endorsed by four former U.S. Secretaries of State; 22 incumbent state Governors; 25 Fortune 500 companies; and many other prominent individuals and organizations (see:  You may find this AAG Resolution useful in making your position on these issues known to your Congressional representatives.

We always encourage AAG members to contact your Senators and Representative to express your views on issues of importance.  The links below provide information about contacting members of Congress through the phone or internet. AAG members may also wish to use social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, to share their perspectives with elected officials, friends, colleagues, and the wider community.

Contact information for all U.S. Senators can be found at:

You can locate your member of the House of Representatives by going to:

If you have any questions, please contact John Wertman, the AAG’s Senior Program Manager for Government Relations, at , or Doug Richardson, AAG Executive Director, at .

Thank you,

Douglas Richardson and John Wertman

Building a National Data Sharing Infrastructure

In March, 2014, URISA published the first in what is intended to be a series of occasional GIS Management Institute® discussion papers. “A Distributed Model for Effective National Geospatial Data Management: Building a National Data Sharing Infrastructure,” by Jim Sparks (State of Indiana GIO), Philip Worrall (Indiana Geographic Information Council Executive Director), and Kevin Mickey (Indiana University Polis Center Geospatial Education Director).

While Indiana’s history with building a spatial data infrastructure has been short relative to several other’s, its track record is impressive. In the late 1990’s the Federal Geographic Data Committee awarded a small grant to a small group of likeminded GIS professionals in Indiana in hopes of starting something – anything really – to boost GIS coordination in the state. The 2000’s brought sweeping change, including developing a not-for-profit council, voluntary standards, GIS data sharing and metadata initiatives, statewide data collection programs, multi-level governmental support, and instituting the IndianaMap. In 2009, the IndianaMap partners quietly released the first view of a multi-county parcel database. Today the IndianaMap hosts and freely delivers the nearly complete framework – map data sourced from local agencies – along with dozens of other statewide and regional data sets (more than 230 layers of GIS data, Indiana Geological Survey). These data are served for viewing and free download to the public and rolled-up all the way to the federal level into The National Map.

This important paper examines a number of impediments to effective data development and data sharing and offer solutions that reflect the employment of effective coordination, carefully directed funding, and the application of current information technology tools and strategies. It summarizes the best practices that the authors believe should be applied nationwide to maintain local control of processes while achieving the broad goals of the National Map. The authors provide a summary of how Indiana has met one of its biggest challenges over the years – how to create a viable, sustainable technical data collection, storage, and distribution infrastructure and the human resources to manage and maintain it.

While the NSDI concept has spanned decades, the realization of a nationwide local-to-statewide-to-national NSDI has been elusive. This paper presents case studies from across the nation. It evaluates what practices have proven to work, and also those that have proven not to work. With it, we may yet get closer to realizing an NSDI.

Read the full paper here.

7 Billion and Counting

Population is a complicated topic. There will soon be seven billion people on the planet. By 2045 global population is projected to reach nine billion. Can the planet take the strain? With the worldwide population slated to top 7 billion in 2011, National Geographic magazine  kicked off a year-long series of articles related to humanity’s remarkable growth spurt, with the first story focusing on the consequences of hitting 7 billion humans later this year and the basics of demography.

  1. Are there too many people on the planet?
  2. Are we in the “age of man?”
  3. Whathappens when our oceans become acidic?
  4. How will we cope with changing climate?
  5. Can we feed seven billion of us?
  6. Whatinfluences women to have fewer children?
  7. Is there enough for everyone?
  8. Are cities the cure for our growing pains?

Here is a video introduction to the series:
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Read all the articles on

The Geographic Inequalities of Broadband in Indiana

Indiana is participating in the National Broadband Program as a multi-year, multi-agency effort to map areas in the state that are currently served by the state’s 170+ broadband providers. The results from this will be integrated into a national broadband availability map, and will provide a solid foundation for future broadband deployment efforts at the state and national level.

“Broadband access supports our economy, attracts businesses, and enables Indiana to be globally competitive.  It improves the quality of life for Hoosiers through better communication and learning,” says Jim Sparks Indiana Geographic Information Officer regarding Indiana’s participation.

The mapping portion of the program intends to identify areas that are underserved and ideally expand access to those areas. Indiana is an active participant in the program, and rightly so – several areas of the state and key demographics are currently underserved. From an user interface perspective, personally I find the national broadband availability maps (different from the IndianaMap) leave something to be desired. I find them generally too technical to communicate much to the average consumer, though they surely are packed with information that will assist at the national program level. Be sure to look at the “Show Gallery” link at the bottom of the page for some nice perspectives (it is easily missed). As a work in progress, it is also worth keeping in mind that the maps may over-represent some areas and under-represent other areas based on individual states’ current participation in the mapping program.

Lest we underestimate the potential impact of the broadband program in Indiana, let us look at the current “state of the state” according to another source,

Indiana on the Patchwork Nation Broadband Map
Wow. Indiana really stands out.

Imaging + Imagining the City: Perspectives on Indianapolis

Planning a future with green spaces that enrich lives, energy-friendly transportation networks for accessing work and play, and renovated structures with safe sidewalks and gardens is the focus of the 26th annual Joseph Taylor Symposium.

“Imaging + Imagining the City: Perspectives on Indianapolis” is the theme for the Joseph T. Taylor Symposium which will take place from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, in the IUPUI Campus Center.

Workshops, which run from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., will feature expert discussions on everything from land re-use and green space development to transportation and educational needs.

Tuskegee University President Gilbert Rochon will deliver the keynote address during the symposium luncheon to be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in Room 450 of the Campus Center. Luncheon activities include Chancellor Charles R. Bantz’s presentation of the Joseph T. Taylor Excellence in Diversity Award.

The School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI is sponsoring this year’s symposium in association with the Department of Geography at IUPUI. The Taylor Symposium is named for the late Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of the School of Liberal Arts. Taylor is remembered for his commitment to dialogue and diversity.

More information and registration


What is a Geographic Information System (GIS)?

Remember those multi-layered images of the human body from middle school science class, showing the body’s skeletal system, nervous system and so on? GIS is similar. It layers modern geographical maps—of streets, buildings, neighborhoods, even subterranean infrastructure—using 21st century technology.

GIS technology works by linking information stored in databases to a place or location. Users can question the data and present the answers in maps, tables and other graphic representations. Since 80% of all information has a geographic component, the power of GIS can be widely used to support decision-making and problem solving across all sectors—public, private, and not-for-profit.

Why do governments use GIS technology? It is an important tool for determining public policy. In a book about public policy, R.W. Greene says, “The realization is growing that almost everything that happens in a public policy context also happens in a geographic one: transportation planners, water resources studies, education subcommittees, redistricting boards, planning commissions, and crime task forces all must consider questions of where along with the usual ones of how, and why, and how much will it cost. GIS, by answering the first question, helps to answer the others.”