Friday, September 26, 2008

My Friend T.O.D.

I know what everyone (approx. 1.5 people) who reads my blog is wondering: "Who is TOD? Silly reader...TOD stands for Transit Oriented Development. In a nutshell, TOD is a new(really old) method of planning and building commercial/residential sites so that they are located within walking distance of each other and are located with ready access to transit, whether it be astride light/heavy rail lines, or along bus routes.

While in my mind it's a great idea, it's not new. Before urban/suburban sprawl went out of control and became the "thing" in development planning, what you had in essence was transit oriented development. Small towns or neighborhoods existed where everyone lived, worked and conducted commerce. Everything was close (within walking distance) and most small towns and neighborhoods had ready access to transportation (other than cars).

TOD is a great answer to problems of urban sprawl. It also has the potential to bring riders to public transportation in droves. It can bring the people to the transit, instead of the other way around. You take conveniences that would normally be only accessible by driving (grocery stores, drug stores, etc.) and you put them all in one place. Put them so the people that live there can walk to and from them with ease. Then you give them ready access to transit so they can reach other TOD sites and beyond. It's easy to imagine a network of TOD sites located along established transit systems, and the development that it could create.

Is it a quick fix? No, but it also took sprawl a while to catch on. My buddy TOD is a good long term solution to fixing the problems and population loss in Allegheny County and Pittsburgh that sprawl has caused. In fact, there is already talk of several TOD sites in Allegheny County. Check out the articles here and here.

That is great for Allegheny County, but Pittsburgh is ripe for TOD. Areas of brownfield, like the old J & L mill site in Hazelwood, or the nearly abandoned neighborhood of Manchester, just a stone's throw away from the North Shore Connector. Imagine that, give the North Shore Connector some actual population to move.

I believe we are actually moving in the right direction with TOD in Pittsburgh, let's keep on building!

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