Integrated Land Use and Transportation Decisions
Land use and transportation are inexorably linked. Land use decisions have immense effects on transportation choices, just like transportation decisions have immense effects on land use patterns. In the absence of coordinated planning however, transportation investments often move forward without a proper understanding of their effect on adjoining development.
Over the past 50 years Southeast Florida made big investments in automotive transportation infrastructure, particularly highways and large arterial roads. In response to highway construction, automobile-dependent development springs up, which in turn, creates more demand for auto-only transportation infrastructure. Multiple cycles of this self-reinforcing pattern of development has led to dramatic increases in per-capita vehicle-miles traveled.
Similarly, investments in transit have been made without fully taking into account the role of development in creating successful transit systems. As a result, transit investments don’t always produce their intended results due to a lack of supportive development around transit stations. Development designed for driving has thus created the dual problem of traffic-clogged roads and underutilized transit systems.
Land Use First, Transportation Second
An important tool in creating a balanced transportation system is to first design our cities and towns to fit the community’s vision, and then make the necessary transportation investments to implement that vision. Streets in neighborhoods designed to be walkable, mixed-use and connected can then follow context-sensitive design guidelines that support a multi-modal environment. Properly scaled streets and public spaces not only encourage walking and biking, but help to create the compact, mixed-use, urban environments that support transit.
To build and maintain a world-class transit system, development around station areas has to be thought as an integral part of the system. Miami’s Metrorail system, long thought of as under performing has, in recent years, seen soaring ridership in large part due to walkable, mixed-use development around the Brickell, Dadeland and South Miami stations, among others. This, along with experiments around the country have proven just how valuable these walkable destinations are to the success of a transit system.
Not only is development crucial to the transit system, but the transit system itself provides a valuable amenity for entire generations of people now seeking more convenient, convivial and sustainable lifestyles. This makes each and every station area a tremendous opportunity for walkable development. Each station then becomes a complete urban neighborhood that supports walking, biking and transit in addition to auto trips, providing a full range transportation options to residents and visitors.
On a similar note, development-oriented transit ensures that transit investments are made where they can best support existing and future urban neighborhoods. For example, the FEC line runs directly through many of the regions most important cities and towns, making it an ideal corridor for transit development.