Urban planning credo states that, through design and policy interventions that improve access to public transportation, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) reduces car dependency and encourages individuals to walk, bike, bus, or take the train to their destination. Well, maybe. A University of California, Berkley study suggest that, for rail, the T in TOD may not be necessary to reduce car travel in neighborhoods that are dense and walkable, with scarce parking. In a study of rail transit's impact on travel patterns, Daniel Chatman, associate professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, challenged the assumption that easy access to rail leads to less reliance on cars (and subsequently lower rates of car ownership). Were there other factors at play, like narrower streets, good parking, wider sidewalks, and nearby destinations? Chatman received over 1,100 responses to a survey he sent to households living within a two-mile radius of ten New Jersey train stations, within commuting distance to Manhattan. Chatman asked residents about what type of house they lived in, on- and off-street parking availability, travel for work and leisure, residential location preferences, and household demographics. 30 percent of respondents lived in housing that was less than seven years old. Half lived within walking distance (0.4 miles) to rail, in TOD-designated and non-designated developments. Controlling for housing type, bus access, amount of parking, and population density, among other markers, the availability of on- and off-street parking, not rail access, was the key determinate in auto ownership and car dependence. The study asserts that "households with fewer than one off-street parking space per adult had 0.16 fewer vehicles per adult. Households with both low on- and off-street parking availability had 0.29 fewer vehicles per adult." Living in a new house near a train station, moreover, was correlated with a 27 percent lower rate of car ownership compared to residents further afield. Bus access was also key in determining car use. The number of bus stops within one mile of a residence is a good indicator of public transit accessibility, and there are usually more bus stops in denser areas. The study found that "doubling the number of bus stops within a mile radius around the average home was associated with 0.08 fewer vehicles per adult." Compared to areas with poor bus access and plentiful parking, car ownership was reduced by 44 percent when strong bus access converged with poor parking availability. To reduce car ownership and use, municipalities don't necessarily have to invest in rail. Reducing the availability of parking, providing better bus service, developing smaller houses (and more rentals), and creating employment centers in walkable, densely populated downtowns may accomplish the same objective, at considerably less expense.
Posts tagged with "TOD":
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel floats ordinance to fast-track transit-oriented development, reduce parking minimums
This week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will push a plan to expand transit-oriented development (TOD) by easing zoning restrictions and releasing certain projects from parking requirements altogether. The city already has an ordinance providing for transit-oriented development and, as AN has previously reported, several projects have rushed to take advantage of it. Mixed-use developments with dozens of new housing units have slashed their parking lots, avoiding a longstanding code requirement that they provide one spot for every unit by building near transit stations. Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) gave the proposed changes a favorable preliminary analysis, building off its own “TOD calculator” which the agency released recently in order to spur private developers into building on dozens of properties it labeled “ready for TOD.” Emanuel's new ordinance would give developers of such projects more opportunities to reduce their investment in parking. Here are the changes City Council members will vote on Wednesday, according to the mayor's press office:
• TOD incentives will be available within an expanded radius from a transit station: up to 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) or 2,640 feet (1/2 mile) on a Pedestrian-designated street. • A 100 percent reduction from residential parking requirements if replaced with alternative transportation options, such as a car sharing station on site, or bike parking. • A streamlined process for accessing the minimum lot area, floor area ratio (FAR), and building height incentives by allowing developers to secure these benefits through an Administrative Adjustment from the Zoning Administrator, as opposed to a zoning map amendment by City Council under current law. • For projects that trigger the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 3.75) if the development includes half of any required affordable housing units on site, plus an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 4.0) if the development includes all required affordable housing units on site.
Cleveland’s conflicting development pressures came to a head last week over one avenue on the city’s West Side, and whether its future holds car-oriented businesses like McDonald’s or lanes for public transit and bike paths. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt reported on developers’ plans to suburbanize the area around Lorain Avenue at Fulton Road: “Residents hate the idea with a passion,” he wrote. Much of Cleveland was designed when its population was far greater than it is today. Though on the rebound, the city has far different needs than it did in decades prior. That’s the thinking behind the Ohio City Inc. community development corporation’s new plan, which calls for a $17.3 million overhaul of the avenue from West 25th to West 85th streets. The route would include a 2.3-mile, bicycle track along the north side of the street—the city’s first separated, two-way paths for bikes. Proponents of the plan and those who’d prefer automobile-oriented development could have it out at an upcoming community meeting in January in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood (time and place to be announced). The City Planning Commission could pick it up from there. Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, and recently reexamined transportation policies to build on the increasingly urban character of this self-described artisan neighborhood.
For nextSTL, Richard Bose takes a close look at what's next for St. Louis' transit-oriented neighborhood. The Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood and the area near the Delmar and Forest Park MetroLink stations (both Red and Blue lines) have six bus routes. They’re near the forthcoming Loop Trolley line. A Department of Housing and Urban Development–funded sustainability plan, called OneSTL is examining opportunities for transit-oriented development near MetroLink stops. AN surveyed transit-spurred development around the Midwest in our August issue, focusing on St. Louis’ Delmar Loop Trolley. “Developers really trust the fixed-track nature of this kind of public transit,” area entrepreneur Joe Edwards told Ian Fullerton. “It’s happening in cities around the country—it’s not unique to St. Louis, but it’s time that we bring it back.” Led by H3 Studio, St. Louis’ plans for the Skinker-DeBaliviere area include streetscape improvements, parking and development to varying degrees (see nextSTL for more), but critically they call for a form-based code for the area’s buildings. Eliminating parking minimums and rolling back regulations that make transit-oriented development more difficult, the plan would make the Central West End the first area in the city to implement such a code.
Dear Angelenos: Would you like to save $10,000 this year? Move to a walkable neighborhood and leave your car at home. While this may be obvious—and unrealistic in many parts of our sprawling town—the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD) is hoping to change the game with a new toolkit aimed at improving areas of Los Angeles in close proximity to transit stops. The CTOD, funded through a CalTrans grant and sponsored by Metro, has prepared evaluations of all 71 existing and proposed stations associated with heavy rail, light rail, and busways in the city. Utilizing the findings of those studies along with information gleaned from focus groups, the report offers strategies for expanding and creating new transit oriented districts around Los Angeles. "District" will replace "development" in the TOD nomenclature, at least that's the center is hoping as it strives for more organic strategies in the future, eschewing the top-down, Robert Moses-like approach of the past. While the biggest savings and benefits in the TOD system come through a reduced dependence on cars, some advocates believe adding additional parking at transit stations is the best way forward, at least in the short term. With Measure R raising $40 billion for transit-related projects over 30 years, and Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan solidified, this new toolkit will hopefully influence positive growth around Los Angeles’ transit lines as they expand. Clearly, this fresh thinking is needed, as Christopher Hawthorne recently highlighted LA's lagging standards.
Not all TODs (transit oriented developments) were created equal. So ULI Los Angeles has launched a series of TOD Technical Assistance Panels to re-strategize under-performing transportation centers. The first of these workshops – led by volunteer urban-design professionals – presented its findings on February 19 at LA's Slauson Avenue Blue Line station. The station suffers from poor security; poor pedestrian connectivity to the surrounding neighborhood (including an above-grade platform separated from street life); and poor insulation from noxious industrial uses. Panel recommendations focused on getting people to the station and adding retail. This included a security kiosk, improved lighting, and more visible crosswalks and sidewalks. But a key proposal may rankle those who support TODs purely to get people out of cars: The ULI TAP urges more parking… particularly, a new parking structure connecting to the boarding platform. “Adding parking is not ‘good’ from a typical green perspective, but it will increase ridership,” said Jonathan Watts, Slauson TAP chair and principal with Cuningham Group Architecture. Indeed, many successful TODs – from Long Beach’s Blue Line stations to the large Metrolink hubs – include strong “park and ride” components. ULI LA presents its final proposal in about a month. Three other TOD TAPs are planned. --Jack Skelley Jack Skelley volunteers for ULI Los Angeles and represents Cuningham Group Architecture.