Lexington Walkability Analysis

How close do you live to a pedestrian path?

How close do you live to a pedestrian path?

A Pedshed is used to show how many people are connected by pedestrian paths and sidewalks with either a five-minute or fifteen-minute walk. Only roads with sidewalks are included in the analysis. It is assumed that people can walk faster on pedestrian paths (3.4 mph) than roads with sidewalks (2.8 mph).

Paved paths and sidewalks were attributed and digitized from 2010 aerial photography by students in University of Kentucky Department of Geography’s GEO 409 course, Spring 2014.

This analysis has a focus on existing access and potential future access (of various completed designs)of Lexington’s two longest shared-use trails, the Legacy and Town Branch Trails.

How more connected would Lexington be if the Legacy Trail and Town Branch Trail were completed?

How more connected would Lexington be if the Legacy Trail and Town Branch Trail were completed?

Analysis Results

Five-Minute Walk From All Existing Pedestrian Paths
Approximately 149,000 Fayette County residents (50%) live within a five-minute walk (on a sidewalk) of an existing paved pedestrian path, such as shared-use trail, park walking trail, and school walking path.

Fifteen-Minute Walk From Existing Town Branch & Legacy Trails
Approximately 11,500 Fayette County residents (approximately 3.8%) live within a fifteen-minute walk (on a sidewalk) of existing Town Branch Trail and Legacy Trail facilities. View a dynamic map of this scenario here.

Fifteen-Minute Walk From Completed Town Branch Trail Phase III Without Bridge Across Town Branch
Approximately 12,800 Fayette County residents (4.3%) would live within a fifteen-minute walk (on a sidewalk) of Phase III of Town Branch Trail and Legacy Trail facilities. This option does not include a bridge across Town Branch.

Fifteen-Minute Walk From Potential Future Town Branch & Legacy Trails (with bridge across Town Branch)
Approximately 38,900 Fayette County residents (12.5%) would live within a fifteen-minute walk (on a sidewalk) of finished Town Branch Trail and Legacy Trail facilities.  View a dynamic map of this scenario here.

Pedestrian V. Car Collision Analysis

Maps and Analysis

Maps and Analysis

Point locations for collisions were downloaded from the Kentucky Collision Analysis for the Public (http://crashinformationky.org/) hosted by the Kentucky State Police. Analysis was performed for Kentucky’s Fayette and Jefferson Counties for data period January 5, 2003 – February 23, 2014 as part of University of Kentucky Department of Geography course GEO 409, Spring 2014.

Combined Maps. Click individual county for map.

Combined Maps. Click individual county for map.

Louisville Statistics

    4,592 pedestrians v. car collisions occurred with 173 pedestrian fatalities (3.8% of total) and 4223 pedestrian injuries (92% of total).
    257 pedestrians v. car collisions occurred with 26 pedestrian fatalities (10%) and 227 pedestrian injuries (88% of total).
  • Rate: 6.1 collisions per 1,000 current residents
  • Download Map

Lexington Statistics

    1,689 pedestrians v. car collisions occurred with 47 pedestrian fatalities (2.9% of total) and 1580 pedestrian injuries (94% of total).
    130 pedestrians v. car collisions occurred with 9 pedestrian fatalities (6.9%) and 118 pedestrian injuries (91%).
  • Rate: 5.5 collisions per 1,000 current residents
  • Download Map

Analysis and maps by Boyd Shearer.

Scenic Landscape Index

Fayette County, Kentucky

Fayette County, Kentucky

This index favors more natural settings such as rural areas, forests, stream valleys, larger public parks, and areas of high relief. National Register of Historic Properties are included and while most properties were small and located in the urban core, larger properties with tree canopy scored a relatively high value in the index; Ashland and the Lexington Cemetery are examples. Locations in southern Fayette County scored the highest values because of their proximity to the forested cliffs of the Kentucky River Palisades. Neighboring river tributaries, such as Boone Creek and Elk Lick, extend high scenic values northward.

Link to full version of map

Link to full version of map

The area with highest contiguous value is Raven Run Park, primarily because it is publicly accessible, though unfortunately not during the time one might watch a sunrise or sunset. Notable scenic corridors are found along Town Branch, and the North and South Forks of Elkhorn Creek. Because the data used to calculate this index is from 2001 and 1998, some areas that score a high value, e.g. Hamburg area, have since been altered and would score lower values as the density of the built environment increased.

Scenic conditions were converted to raster datasets and assessed an integer value based on a location’s proximity to tree canopy, water, historic areas, parks, scenic roads, and the probability of seeing a sunrise or sunset at that location. Those conditions are shown in the Fayette County maps found at the bottom of this page. A location is defined as a 5-foot resolution raster cell. Using Map Algebra, all raster datasets were overlaid to find which locations had the greatest number of scenic conditions. The resulting map provides a relative scenic landscape index. Locations with higher values in the index have more scenic conditions. For example, areas with the highest values offer the best chance to see a sunrise or sunset in a natural setting of forested parks, historic areas, or rural places with ponds or lakes. Areas with the lowest values are primarily dense urban environments without tree canopy cover, parks, historic areas, or ponds.

Layers in Index
Views of Sunsets and Sunrises is an index of areas to view sunsets and sunrises on the solstices, assuming one has a clear view of the sun at 8 degrees above the horizon on these two days. Areas that had the most likely view of a sunset or sunrise were awarded more value than areas with a less likely view.

Proximity to Tree Canopy and Water is an index of areas that are under tree canopy or on a waterbody (greater than a 1/4 acre), or within 200 feet of either. Any of these conditions awarded equal value in the index. Tree canopy derived from 1998 aerial photography.

Parks, National Register of Historic Properties, and Scenic Roads is an index of areas that were state parks or passive natural setting parks were awarded higher value in the index. Community parks, publicly accessible national register properties, and areas within 500 feet of county designated scenic roads were awarded lower, but equal, value in the index.

Densely Built Urban Environment is an index of areas with increasing density of built environment were awarded lower values in the index. Derived from the 2001 National Land Cover Database.

Snow, Clouds, and Contrails

sat_images_WinterSnow_and_Contrails_300On the day after Thanksgiving, the eye in the sky from MODIS shows heavy snowfall in southeast Ohio and in the highest Kentucky and West Virginia mountain locations. Contrails fill most of Kentucky’s northern skies.

Kentucky transitions into fall

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013


These satellite images are from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on two satellites, Aqua and Terra. MODIS captures 36 electromagnetic wavelength bands to measure atmospheric water vapor, ozone, aerosols, land fire, surface temperature, and many other important variables of global climate. These images are visible light and clearly show the change in deciduous canopy cover within roughly a month of time. Spatial resolutions are between 250 m to 1 km.

Signature of a Supercell

November Supercells

November Supercells

These satellite images show the unusual tornado outbreak that occurred on November 17, 2013. The top image captured, in false color, the height of clouds at the time when supercell thunderstorms were generating tornados in Illinois. Note the pancaking or mushrooming of the tallest clouds with feathering to the northeast and a distinct northern shadow; those are the classic anvil clouds and a signature of a supercell thunderstorm.

In the black and white image below, we see storms a few hours later. A supercell is located in western Kentucky. The setting sun highlights many tall thunderstorm clouds.

The Daily Aesthetic Oral Histories

Online Oral Histories

Online Oral Histories

Between 1996-1998, I completed about 30 hours of oral histories about once-segregated black parks in Kentucky. About six hours are available online at the University of Kentucky Louie B Nunn Center for Oral History. They’re missing my interview with John Will “Scoop” Brown, a Lexington park programmer and raconteur of zoot suits in Douglass Park. More to be available to be sure.

Here’s the oral history index: The Daily Aesthetic: an oral history of a southern city’s black park system, 1916-1956

“This project focuses on African American culture during the time of segregated park systems in Lexington, Kentucky. These interviews, originally conducted by Boyd Shearer, Jr. for a multimedia presentation, contain descriptions of African American park activities, particularly in Douglass Park. Activities ranged from doll shows, to carnivals, to sports programs. This community also celebrated the visual arts, music, and holidays such as the 4th of July and Easter. The focus of this collection is not discrimination experienced by African Americans at this time, but rather how the park provided a place for them to come together and cultivate a sense of identity and community.”

For an audio documentary using some of these interviews, visit: http://www.outragegis.com/trails/2001/08/08/at-leisures-edge/. The documentary can be downloaded or viewed on SoundCloud. A complete audio script is available.

A paper from this research was produced:

index: http://www.uky.edu/Projects/TDA/archive/TableofContentsandAbstract.pdf
main body: http://www.uky.edu/Projects/TDA/archive/TDA.pdf

Bicycle vs. Car Crash Analysis

Lexington, Kentucky. October 15, 2008 – October 14, 2013.

Lab_3_previewAn analysis of bicycle accidents reported by Kentucky law enforcement agencies over 5 years in Fayette County.

Within Fayette County, 396 bicycle and motor vehicle collisions were reported with 293 injuries and 3 fatalities. The average age of the cyclist was 29 years, 76% were male, and only 25% were wearing a helmet. 21% of the collisions were hit-and-run. The greatest rate, or density, of crashes centers on UK’s campus. The next highest density was downtown, followed by small increases in crashes near Harrodsburg and Waller Ave, Winchester Rd, and on Loudon Ave. Critical street segments in order of greatest number of crashes are: Limestone north of Virginia Ave, Euclid Ave east of Woodland Ave, Rose St between Euclid and Huguelet Dr, and Winchester Road near intersection with East Third St.


Of all workers (16 years and older) living in the Urban Service Area, only 0.94% say the actively bike commute to work. Within 0.5 miles of a bike lane or sharrow, the share of workers saying they bike commute rises to 1.7%. Also, 89% of bike commuters live within a half mile of a bike lane or sharrow. It is estimated that 25% of all reported accidents have happened on streets with a sharrow or bike lane.

Maps and analysis by Boyd Shearer for GEO 309, NRE 355, and LA 855, October 20, 2013. University of Kentucky. Data acquired from the Kentucky State Police’s Kentucky Collision Analysis for the Public database (http://crashinformationky.org/) and the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for Block Groups (http://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/tiger-data.html).



Distressed Kentucky Areas

Ky Distressed Areas

A GIS analysis

Socioeconomic and Environmental Distress by Block Group in Kentucky

A preliminary fact: Landsat Annual Timelapse 1984-2012 (from Google’s Earth Engine project) shows a glimpse of the vast impact of surface mining in the eastern Kentucky coal fields.

Kentucky’s population is nearly balanced between urban and rural. 52% of Kentucky’s population lives in rural census block groups¹. Economic and social distress² is more likely to occur in rural areas. 61% of Kentucky’s distressed population lives in rural areas.

Surface coal mining³ mostly occurs in rural areas and the highest rate of mine permits to population occurs in distressed rural areas. 99.3% of mine permits exist in rural areas.

The rate of mine permits to persons is 12.8 permits per thousand residents in all distressed areas, 4.24 permits per thousand residents in transitional areas, and .221 permits per thousand residents in non-distressed areas. In the most severely distressed rural areas, the rate is the highest at 32.0 permits per thousand residents.

61.2% of all distressed rural areas have mine permits.

Boone Trace

Boone Trace from James Boone Gravesite Marker to Fort Boonesboro

We’ve been working for a client developing a Boone Trace map and guide requiring maps at a few different scales. One scale is the “big picture” map and we selected a 3D basemap for this overview, letter-sized map. I spent only a few hours labeling the map, but with a little more work, I think it will look good. The color intensity might need to be reduced, if it’s decided to use the 3D map. It be more appropriate to make a simple line drawing map, in a nod to older map markers and the historic nature of the subject.

Interactive map legend

Interactive map legend

Many more hours were used to develop the driving tour basemap. Bringing in Kentucky state GIS data, the map was developed and labeled with shapefiles in TileMill. The idea is to build a good basemap for the client using online proofing and updating. After the production format and scale are chosen, we’ll create bounding boxes and clip out the print pages. TileMill styling and label placement can easily be transferred to Illustrator and with the goal of quickly designing a final proof.

Works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE8. You’ll need to run compatibility mode if your browser is IE9 or greater.

The Woodland Art Fair Weekend

Boyd ends a busy Saturday.

Ending a busy Saturday.

What an awesome weekend! We want to sincerely thank all of our friends, new and old, who came by our booth to talk about their adventures and uses of maps. We couldn’t have been happier after a busy day’s work with the excitement folks still have for good ‘ol paper maps. It’s inspiration that fuels our tanks. The weather held, this year’s food and beverage selection was superior, and our neighbors were fantastic. That’s why we say awesome!

One visitor, Emmett, epitomizes our type of person who loves maps and loves to use them. He recently moved to Lexington and committed himself to hiking all the official trails in the Red River Gorge. As he was outfitting his gear at Lexington’s Benchmark outdoor store, he came across one of our publications.

John answers questions from Sunday trekkers.

John at command/control in 2005, our first year at the church.

After a few dozen miles of using our map in the backcountry, he said, “That map was the best $15 I ever spent, hands down.” After he hikes all the trails, he’ll mount and frame his maps. Emmett, we’re gonna hold you to your pledge to send us a photograph of the framed map set.

This was our eight year at the same spot in the Woodland Christian Church fair annex. While we perhaps don’t have the same number of visitors as the Woodland Park grounds, we love our shady corner at the bottom of the hill.

We hope to see you next year and thanks for all your support!

Draft of North Sheltowee Trace Map

Interactive viewer to proof the content of the map.

Interactive viewer to proof the content of the map.

We are sharing our first draft of the Sheltowee Trace North map and we encourage you to proof it and give us feedback. The map covers the ST from the north terminus in Rowan County, Kentucky to DBNF’s Turkey Foot Campground along the banks of the War Fork near McKee, Jackson County.

The print format of this map will be 19″ x 27″ and on two double-sided sheets. The layout format is following: map one is Northern Terminus to Corner Ridge at Mariba; and map two is Corner Ridge to Turkey Foot.

Since the northern half of the ST has more contiguous public land, we went to the big sheet showing larger tracts of area. Trails in the Cave Run Lake and Red River Gorge areas are completely covered; in fact, this map might cover all official trails in the Cumberland Ranger District.

What needs to be done? We still need to add elevation contour labels and Sheltowee Trace mile markers. The south map counts miles from the old southern terminus and is no longer correct. To resolve mile markers on the north map, we’ll start counting from the northern terminus and provide a conversion for north-bound hikers using either the new or old southern terminus. Any suggestions about this mile maker plan?

A few notes about the map viewer. This map viewer is built out of TileMill and should work with most modern browsers, including mobile. As we develop new data about the alignment and distance of the Trace, we can easily update this draft. The images are reduced in resolution and they will appear a little ragged. We’re proofing content, here so please don’t the aesthetics, yet!

NOTE: the interactive works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE8. You’ll need to run compatibility mode if your browser is IE9 or greater.

New Bike Lex Map


Online map for shared-use trails and bike lanes

A new Bike Lexington map was released in June 2013. We developed a Tilemill online map version and it is online here. I have two directions we would like to go with this map. One, I’d like to establish legibility at all zoom levels so it can work on mobile devices. Two, I want to develop a version where users can submit reports on important or problematic locations with a focus on safety. It would be obvious to first map accidents and fatalities to communicate and understand how they happen.

We welcome any recommendations or contributions.

Hello TileMill: looking at Sheltowee Trace mileage

Landuse and trail with mile markers

Sheltowee Trace trail with mile markers and landuse background image. First draft.

As we update the Sheltowee Trace maps, I took a diversion and looked at Tilemill from the folks at MapBox to create an interactive online map of the new alignment. Tilemill is pretty awesome app and allows you create a projects using a variety of spatial data, including Shapefiles, GeoTIFFs and GeoJSON (a new format to me, but shows some interesting possibilities).

map legendThe strength of Tilemill centers on few features; you can style layers in markup very similar to CSS, attribute data can be used for styling and interactively shown on the published map, attributes and features can be displayed differently at different zoom levels, and you publish to an MBtile file, a SQlite database. This format contains many thousands, no millions, of raster tiles that are served quite fast in your browser. In my opinion, a ton of creativity can be found in this free app.

For the Sheltowee Trace map, I pulled in a GeoTIFF of landuse with elevation hillshading, the ST trail with mile markers, and polygons of county and larger towns. After tinkering with the style sheets, I made a fairly simple map. I wanted to add so many more layers, but I had to see how it looked online. The simplest way to publish it to use MapBox’s service, but the .mbtiles file was 300 MB and I wanted to host on SheltoweeTrace.com. I needed to to use a few javascript libraries to serve this map on our server. I chose Leaflet through MapBox’s Wax library (inspired by this post) and it was fairly easy to setup. One thing I learned after a little frustration, the newest version of Leaflet.js will not work with the .js files in Wax. Use only the files included in Wax and it will work perfectly. The only other bit of code needed is something to read the data in the mbtiles file and format it properly for Wax. I used tileserver.php and it is important link if you want to display attribute data interactively.

While the map is very simple, it has some potential I think. Obviously the base map needs finishing with a good legend, but some exciting options include adding popup photos of significant trail features (with the future hope make this an interactive submission for users) and using Leaflet’s geolocation feature for mobile devices (pretty buggy now and there’s issue of offlining the data for use in the field).

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