A transit-oriented development (TOD) is a residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership. A TOD neighborhood typically has a center with a train station, metro station, tram stop, or bus station, surrounded by relatively high-density development with progressively lower-density development spreading outwards from the center. TODs generally are located within a radius of one-quarter to one-half mile (0.4 to 0.8 km) from a transit stop, as this is considered to be an appropriate scale for pedestrians.
Many of the new towns created after World War II in Japan, Sweden, and France have many of the characteristics of TOD communities. In a sense, nearly all communities built on reclaimed land in the Netherlands or as exurban developments in Denmark have had the local equivalent of TOD principles integrated in their planning.
The idea of transit-oriented development has been around for over 100 years. In fact, most of Halifax is built on that idea. That’s why few middle class houses in residential Halifax have dedicated driveways or garages. When they were built 80 to 100 years ago it was assumed that the best way to get around town was public transportation focused on hubs or ‘stops’ which would be centres of commercial activity… all small business of course.
With the coming of the automobile we lost the ball. But now it is time to pick it up again. Practically no new ideas are required. This has all been work out quite elegantly over 80 years ago by urban planning movements that focused on beauty, efficiency and the idea of separating the various modes of transport in an meaningful way to allow room for humanity to prosper. The most exciting and successful of these movements was the Garden City Movement (check it out on Wikipedia) and we would do well to revive these ideas.
A couple immediate results: Making combined car, bike, pedestrian thoroughfares is not the way to go. These are very different modes of transportation and deserve to be treated differently. Second, all future development should be controlled by the government to embrace Garden City ideals. It makes no sense to continue to allow automobile-centric residential and commercial development when we know with certainty it is leading on a path to disaster.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.