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Transit-oriented development, or TOD, could be the “poster child” for sustainable urban development. It concentrates land uses, including commercial and multi-family housing, near transit stations so as to reduce car dependency and increase ridership. The benefits are manifold; increased community health, positive economic impacts, less harm to the environment and potentially greater social equity.

But what about affordability? In exchange for all these benefits, do TOD residents spend more money on transportation?

A new NITC study compared TOD with transit-adjacent development, also known as TAD; another form of urban grown that is sometimes almost-affectionately referred to as TOD’s evil twin.

Researchers Brenda Scheer, Reid Ewing, Keunhyun Park and Shabnam Sifat Ara Khan of the University of Utah sought to answer three research questions. First of all, they wanted to establish clear criteria for how to tell TOD and TAD...

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A new NITC report examines metropolitan centers: high-density developments in metropolitan regions.

Mixed-use transit-oriented developments are one example of a metropolitan center, but high-density developments in suburban areas without transit also fit the definition.

Across the country, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are steering cities toward this type of development for a variety of reasons.

Many of them are facing the same constraints: poor air quality and increased congestion without an increase in dollars to solve it. One response to the problem involves getting a better handle on land use.

NITC researchers Richard Margerum and Rebecca Lewis of the University of Oregon and Keith Bartholomew of the University of Utah evaluated the planning process surrounding metropolitan centers in two case study regions, Denver and Salt Lake City.

“A lot of regions are paying attention to regional growth patterns. How do you do this at a regional scale when you don’t have the authority? What planners and MPOs are really facing is the question of how to support the adoption of these kinds of concepts,” Margerum said.

The goal of the study was to examine...

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Bad streets don’t just create frustrating commutes, Dan Burden told a Eugene crowd Feb. 28. They also hurt our health, environment and economy.

Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, spoke as part of the University of Oregon’s LiveMove Transportation Speaker Series. A national authority on bicycle and pedestrian programs, street corridor and intersection design, and traffic calming, Burden started advocating for active transportation 38 years ago.

A healthy and sustainable community is a walkable one, Burden said, and transportation and land-use planning both should serve that goal. “If you want to be a transportation planner, you’d better take a couple courses in land use,” he said. “And if you want to be a land-use planner, you’d better take a couple courses in transportation.”

Well-designed streets are key to healthy communities, Burden said. Wide sidewalks, good landscaping, buffer zones between cars and pedestrians and short crosswalks all create an environment that gets more people walking. In turn, he said, businesses will build to take advantage of foot traffic and existing owners will see their property values rise.

Although established communities offer few opportunities to plan streets from scratch, there are still opportunities to incorporate good design, Burden said. Bad streets can be put on a diet, he said....

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Dr. Yizhao Yangís OTREC project on understanding school travel examined the relationships between school transportation, neighborhood walkability, and where families choose to live. The study involved a 5,500-household survey of families with children attending selected public schools in Eugene, Oregon. In general, parents did consider school transportation in the process of deciding where to live. Unfortunately, housing opportunities around schools and in walkable communities are often limited. Dr. Yangís project suggests a need for greater coordination between community land use planning and school planning. The study also points to the value of continuing to educate the community about safe and active transportation options to school. The final report can be downloaded at: http://otrec.us/project/184.