Growing populations are prompting planners and local officials to rethink the way land is used in cities. Sustainability has become an important consideration in the planning of future urban areas, and one way to achieve that is through the application of transit-oriented development principles.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) maximizes access to public transportation and discourages the use of private automobiles. It considers how to accommodate residential, office, and retail uses in compact developments that foster welcoming environments for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. It asks how transit service can be integrated into the design of new developments.
A transit-oriented development neighbourhood typically features a transit stop at the centre that is surrounded by a dense built form with progressively lower-density development in the outlying regions. Transit-oriented developments are generally located within a 400- to 800-metre radius from the central transit stop.
Cities around the world are constantly developing strategic plans and policies that implement TOD principles. Numerous post-war neighbourhoods in Japan and across Europe were developed to be human scaled and pedestrian friendly, promoting cycling instead of driving. In North America, where automobile dependency is more common, there has been an innate struggle to craft an environment that stresses transit and walkability. Several cities are leading the charge though, particularly Portland, San Francisco, and Vancouver, which have each embarked on the creation of sustainable communities.
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