Sunday, May 26, 2013

Benefits of TOD Neighborhoods

Transit-oriented design (TOD) could be described in a number of ways. From creating “compact, walkable neighborhoods centered around transit stations” to any “medium or high density, mixed-use development based on traditional older city design principles” (DeCoursey & Athey, 2007). Either way, the central idea is to have more people living in a smaller amount of space while incorporating many transit locations to increase transit use, ease, and availability.

There are many reasons to promote TOD, including human health benefits, increased environmental quality, and a boost in household and community economy. First and maybe the most beneficial is personal health and fitness. Many recent studies have revealed the relationship between community design and an increase in personal health. The studies have proven that designs that enhance travel options can reduce air pollution and increase residents’ physical activity and overall health (DeCoursey & Athey, 2007). A neighborhood with mixed-use land places homes near work, entertainment, and other services allowing residents to walk more and drive less. Having everything you need just outside your door or down the street increases the community’s economy as well as individual household economy.  There is a decline in vehicle ownership, reduced car travel, decrease gas and car maintenance costs in TOD neighborhoods. Residents in the most interconnected areas travel 26% fewer vehicle miles per day than those living in sprawling areas (DeCoursey & Athey, 2007).
Then there is the obvious benefit towards the environment. Sprawling neighborhoods and cities consume large areas of land with little services available. Living farther away from friends, family, work, and other services forces people to drive more often, generate more air pollution and to walk less. Compact development with increased street connectivity and mixed land use near home and work are associated with significantly lower per capita vehicle emissions, particularly nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds (DeCoursey & Athey, 2007).

TOD neighborhoods benefit people and the environment; they create tight knit communities with increased safety and overall personal health. These types of areas are better places to live and work; it increases transit travel time and service plus, it helps boost the community’s economy. 

DeCoursey, W. J., & Athey, L. Delaware Department of Transportation, (2007). Transit-oriented design – illustration of tod characteristics. Retrieved from website:

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