Transit Oriented Development is the key to healthier cities

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Transportation & Mobility are two important factors to consider in urban design and planning. Cities with poor mobility and transit systems lack in comparison to those cities who have strong forms of transportation planning in many ways. Urban planners have adapted a strategy named TOD (Transit Oriented Development/ Design) which allows cities to strengthen weak transportation systems and  simultaneously create places that work well with public transit. The idea is to focus on developing the community by strengthening transportation and increasing choice riders. Highways are usually designed as an isolated artifact, without any forethought of them inducing development. This new development in turn, attracts more people and adds to the congestion problem we face in many cities today. Transit Oriented Design in a way is a variation of that same principle. Strengthening a city’s public transportation system and beginning to build near existing transit access. Intensifying development near transit stations has shown success in the design of many staple cities in the united states such as Portland Oregon and Washington DC. Peter Calthorpe assisted Portland’s Region 2040 plan. During his time supporting the plan he practiced his theory of “Pedestrian Pockets”.

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tod.org

 

The idea behind these pedestrian pockets is to control sprawl by having separated rapid transit lines. The success this implementation had in Oregon just goes to show that population increases comes naturally- when applying growth boundaries, building rapid transit lines, and elevating intensity near public transportation. This type of design and re investment simply works, it generates revenue for public transportation, gives people an easy commute, and its cheaper! This will allow the city to grow and contribute to a competitive economy on regional and levels as well as enhance the social fabric of the city. Statistics show that in ‘2014, 365,000 people moved to the South—up 25% from 2013—and moves to the west doubled’. This data suggests that Orlando would be the perfect candidate for transit oriented design. A whole mobility and transit revamp in Orlando is necessary. Lack of walkability is one of Orlando’s top problems which needs to be addressed. The low walkability levels in a city result in higher heart disease rates and other health issues within its citizens. When this type of design and planning is implemented correctly, people tend to walk more, which means healthier residents! According to the Reconnecting America organization, successful places that follow transit oriented design have “Reduced household driving and thus [have] lowered regional congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions” . This could reduce the amount of accidents that occur yearly due to automobile dependency. A community built in this matter would allow for easier commutes, and can open an array of new jobs into the city market. In my view, TOD should be necessary in Orlando and many other cities that face the same issues.

 

Sources:

What is TOD? (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2016, from http://reconnectingamerica.org/
what-we-do/what-is-tod/
Barnett, J. (2003). Redesigning cities: Principles, practice, implementation. Chicago:
Planners Press. Page 57 Transit Oriented Design & Page 97 The neighborhood as a design concept.