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Transit oriented development

New Paradigms for an Improved Quality of Life

New paradigms for an improved quality of life

The question of how to face rapid and often relentless urbanization is being discussed throughout the world, considered the significant effects on national economies. In Europe a  2009 report of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission photographed for the first time the lives and welfare of the inhabitants of the 28 EU member countries, not only documenting their access to material goods, but also the context of daily life: from job satisfaction to the experience of public transit by commuters. Just think that citizens of the outskirts of Mexico City spend about two hours and a half per day on their commutes to and from work and dedicate an average of 30% of their income on transportation. By 2030 a further half billion people are expected to move to big cities, bringing urgency to strategies to manage the territorial reorganization in favor of a more careful design of transit networks.

The design of our transportation systems is at the crossroads of many factors that shape urban communities and can help to improve social ties and increase economic and employment opportunities. Among the more advanced urban planning strategies there is TOD – Transit Oriented Development, promoting an urban development conceived around public transports and espousing the idea of a mixed-use of the territory, of an optimized access to public transportation services and of soft mobility strategies to keep together physical, economic, social and environmental networks.

An increased walkability, for example, not only improves city-dwellers’ health, but can also lead to more livable and successful local economies where money flows within communities rather than being exported outside. Furthermore, ground-floor retail and neighborhood centers help to guarantee those “eyes on the street” that provide citizen with safety and strengthen communities’ ties. TOD also reduces the need for long-distance trips and this means lower emissions and better air-quality. Wide-scale adoption of TOD will allow diverse strategies to come together with the objective of improving accessibility and the quality of urban life for city-dwellers around the world. Last but not least, TOD will include those citizens traditionally excluded from urban discussions helping them to voice their ideas about the future of their cities.