Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Easy Access.....

Street-level view of the area around the Ballston Metro Station — also in Arlington, Virginia.  Note the mixed-use development (from left to right: ground floor retail under apartment building, office buildings, shopping mall (at the end of the street), apartment building, office building with ground floor retail), pedestrian oriented facilities including wide sidewalk, and bus stop facility in the center distance. Parking in this location is limited, relatively expensive, and located undergroundImage via WikipediaI miss the apartment I was living a few years ago. From my apartment I could walk to a local grocery store, a pizza parlor, Circle K, a hardware store, dry cleaners, postal service annex and a newstand that had a couple of really cute girls employed. I could also catch the bus from in front of the complex to the main downtown area which in this town was called "uptown" to give it a little better name. This complex was not designed as a transit oriented development but it worked much the same way. Everything was designed to be in walking distance including transit service.

I am not talking about Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; or San Francisco, California; New York City; or any of those northeastern towns. The city I was living in at the time was Charlotte, North Carolina.

While I could not use the bus service for regular transportation since it most of the routes radiated out of uptown area and provided generally poor service (you couldn't even blame light rail for this one since Charlotte just opened their first light rail line early this year). In addition I was working for Oldsmobile in the racing arena at the time and transit just didn't fit the needs although I would have used it if it worked.

What did work was my wonderful apartment. The convenience of not having to get in the car to go to the grocery store or run everyday errands. That is the essential elements of Transit Oriented Development.

Today in many cities around the nation you can live near a light rail or bus station, have all your services convenient to you, and not only be able to run your errands without using the automobile but also have the luxury of hopping transit to work, dinner, a movie, or a many other activities.

They exist in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, and of course the older transit cities such as Chicago, New York, Boston and Toronto.

Monday's development conference hopefully will spawn some developments here in Salt Lake City. I have already talked about some actions that can be taken along the major bus routes that will help out with not only providing affordable housing but increase bus ridership by making bus service more convenient.

We have already seen a new vision come out of the University of Utah and hopefully we will see many more in the next couple of years. We need housing and services to become more convenient to each other were walking and transit become easy options, not something that is an afterthought.

Imagine the possibilities...

UTA Shares Future Development Plans

Developers focus on mass transit

UTA hosts mass-transit conference
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