Recommended Reading


January 2008
Volume 4, Number 1

Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change (2007)

By Reid Ewing, Keith Bartholomew, Steve Winkelman, Jerry Walters and Don Chen
with Barbara McCann and David Goldberg
The Urban Land Institute, 2007

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has issued this report to address growth and developmental strategies designed to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “Growing Cooler…” makes the case for reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as an important and neglected component of GHG reduction. The high level of energy use (and resulting emissions) attributed to the massive growth in VMT alone makes smart growth and transit-oriented development policies increasingly important as part of an overall solution, together with vehicle efficiency and fuel content changes, to reduce GHG emissions. Both regional growth simulations and project-level simulations point to density, especially infill development, as a key component in plans to reduce VMT and CO2 emissions. The report contains useful policy recommendations for federal, state, and local governments. On the federal level, the authors advocate new Green-TEA legislation to bring about greater GHG accountability, fund existing infrastructure repairs, and orient transportation agency funding structures toward performance-oriented GHG reduction goals. States are asked to set goals for VMT reduction and meet these goals by reducing single-occupant commutes and by providing grant and technical assistance to local VMT reduction plans. Changes to development rules and approvals, such as smart growth tax incentives and ending the competitive “Fiscalization of Land Use,” are ways to address these goals on the local stage. These recommendations provide useful starting points for policy discussions at all levels.


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Bursting the Bubble: Determining Transit-Oriented Development’s Walkable Limits (2007)

By Brian Canepa, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates
Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1992
Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2007, pp. 28–34

Canepa challenges the “half-mile circle” that currently defines the limit of transit-oriented development by examining new research that cites variability in this assumption. The report underscores the importance of higher pedestrian levels of service (LOS) in expanding the walkable limits of TOD. Along with street connectivity, Canepa observes that the presence of “an aesthetic urban setting” is the greatest factor in increasing the distance that transit users will walk. He cites smaller block size, an abundance of street trees, and graffiti-free sidewalks as factors contributing to attractive streetscapes and longer walking distances. When such improvements are made, Canepa writes, the area of intensive development can be tripled in size. He also states that such improvements should be a key consideration in comprehensive transit-oriented planning.

Strengths and Weakness of Bus in Relation to Transit Oriented Development (2005)

By Graham Currie
Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University, Australia

Currie offers a frank assessment of the strengths and weakness of bus transit-oriented development (BTOD) and discusses many of the issues confronting BTOD. These issues include flexibility, parking, permanence, service frequency, and unfamiliarity with this form of TOD.  He observes that while bus rapid transit has strong and relatively unexplored promise for TOD in high density regions, suburban local bus transport—which Currie terms “lower order” bus services—shows only limited, though still positive, potential for TOD. Currie asserts that several challenges must be addressed if BTOD is to reach its potential. Bus travel must be de-stigmatized, the lack of transit agency staffing dedicated to BTOD must be addressed and the absence of interest and/or capacity in the bus industry must be overcome before BTOD can be a strong development strategy. Currie also highlights the issue of “scale dilution” as it affects BTOD. Local bus transit, serving a large number of stops, provides only limited support to development activity. However BRT service, like rail, tends to concentrate such activity. He notes though that the large number of bus stop locations creates greater choice for riders and supports development throughout a region.

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