Excerpted from: G. Thomas Kingsley, Claudia J. Coulton, and Kathryn L. S. Pettit. “Strengthening Communities with Neighborhood Data.” iBooks.
We have a lot of parking lots in Louisville… in fact we have over 14 square miles of large surface parking lots across Louisville Metro/Jefferson County… an area equivalent in size to the entire city of Frankfort, our state capitol. Thanks in part to the minimum parking requirements in many areas of our city, we’ve layed huge expanses of concrete and asphalt devoted solely to the automobile… many of which are barely or rarely used at all.
The large lots fragment neighborhoods and commercial districts, posing challenges for connectivity and walkability, and have environmental consequences, making Louisville hotter, contributing to poorer air quality, and more susceptible to flooding.
The ReSurfaced initiative hopes to draw attention to this situation… and seeks to begin a fresh dialogue about filling in these gaps in our built environment. As we begin to look around at these fragmented areas, we must think about how to strategically activate these spaces in the short-term and create opportunities to catalyze the development that will make our community a more vibrant, healthy, and attractive city.
I’ve been enjoying the various “Most Common Language Other Than English” maps for US States or city neighborhoods that folks have posted this summer, and I didn’t want Louisville to be left out of the fun.
Louisville has developed a reputation as an immigrant-friendly mid-sized city, so I thought it would be interesting to see how that played out geographically, in terms of language spoken at home. Overall its estimated that around 8% of Louisvillians speak a language other than English at home (3.8% speaking Spanish at home).
Rather than go through a process of aerial interpolation to “force” the data into Louisville’s urban neighborhoods, and creating a more complicated estimate, I’m simply presenting the data as is, estimated at the Census Tract level. So basically I’m using Census Tracts as a rough proxy for neighborhoods.
Earlier this month the Census released a piece on their ‘Newsroom’ page about how biking to work in the US has increased 60% since 2000 – “the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey”. The post lists the top 15 bike commuting cities ranging from Honolulu at an estimated 1.8%, to Portland at 6.1% (the U.S. as a whole is at 0.6%).
In looking at the numbers for Louisville (Jefferson County), we find that since 2000 we’ve increased our bike commute percentage by 86%. Impressive… right? Actually, not really… the numbers behind that percent increase are as follows: 737 workers age 16+ out of 329,091 in Census 2000 (0.2%) versus an estimated 1,372 out of 343,060 on the lasted American Community Survey (0.4%).
But don’t get too dismayed. It’s important to remember that this is only data about commuting to work… and is probably not the best measure of the level of actual bicycling in a community. Elly Blue lists a lot of the problems with the Census Bike Commute numbers on Bicycling blog, including the way they count, the way they attribute primary mode, and of course the exclusion of non-work related trips. Elly describes how a phone survey in Portland found much higher levels of cycling than the 6% bike commuting estimate reported in the American Community Survey.
Check out the ACS estimates for Louisville Census Tracts Below. Only 3 Census Tracts in Louisville Metro had estimates with more that 5% commuting to work via bike.