Be on the Way

how universal is transit’s geometry?

240px-Uranus2 Suppose that somewhere else in our universe, there’s another planet with intelligent life.  We don’t know what they look like, or what gases they breathe, or what they eat, or whether they’re inches or miles tall.  We don’t know whether they move by hopping, drifting, or slithering.  We don’t even know if their lived environment is largely two-dimensional, like the surface of the earth, or freely three dimensional, perhaps a cloud-city full of cloud-beings who drift up and down as easily as they drift left or right.  We don’t know what they call themselves, so let’s call them borts. Continue Reading →

Transit’s Role in “Sprawl Repair”

Duany Plater-Zyberk, one of the leading planning firms associated with New Urbanism, is thinking about “sprawl repair,” a process by which utterly car-dependent landscapes could be transformed into something more walkable, and thus more resilient.  Galina Tachieva of DPZ has an article explaining the concept at Planetizen.  Continue Reading →

Cul-de-sac Hell and the Radius of Demand

This is interesting:

Research by Lawrence Frank, Bombardier Chair in Sustainable Transportation at the University of British Columbia, looks at neighborhoods in King County, Washington: Residents in areas with the most interconnected streets travel 26% fewer vehicle miles than those in areas with many cul-de-sacs. Recent studies by Frank and others show that as a neighborhood’s overall walkability increases, so does the amount of walking and biking—while, per capita, air pollution and body mass index decrease.

I especially appreciate this graphic, because it’s a nice illustration of a crucial transit concept: the radius of demand: Continue Reading →

Integrating Transit and Land Use: A Cautionary Tale

The Transport Politic tells the story of a new rapid transit corridor study in suburban Maryland, extending west from DC Metro’s Red Line terminus at Shady Grove.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the geography.  Think of this, instead, as a Rohrshach test.  There’s a yellow option and a blue option, and the squiggly blue option has an additional optional squiggle in green.  Which one would you rather ride?

I-270 Continue Reading →

Be on the Way

Botw 3 One of the problems with discussions of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is that the term sounds much too specialized.  We hear talk of TODs as a special class of developments with special requirements and possibilities, and perhaps requiring special expertise.  We often hear that a certain development is or isn’t aTOD, as though transit-orientation were not — as it obviously is — a matter of degree.

Moreover, most of the urban development decisions that will determine the future viability of transit are not decisions about TODs.  Most of them are not even conscious decisions about transit.  The literature of “how to build TODs” is useless in these situations.  What people need are simple guidelines about transit that they can keep in the back of their minds, and on their checklists, as they plan ALL kinds of urban development.  The same principles could help institutions and individuals decide where to locate.

Continue Reading →