“T” in Allegheny Station, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from joseph a’s photostream

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is development which features mixed-use residential and commercial areas. It values diversity in both the population and land use. It ensures walkability and centers the community around high quality and diverse transportation options. It’s the difference between a Main Street model and a strip mall on a highway. It brings back a pedestrian human scale and gets away from a reliance on cars (and fossil fuels). It’s what makes a city livable — a place where people will chose to live — because they can easily access their residence, workplace, shops and cultural attractions. It also aims to limit urban sprawl. In the following video, Peter Calthorpe of Calthorpe Associates (an urban design firm), explains the concept:

How to achieve the sustainability and smart growth offered by TOD is a subject which has been tackled by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC). They’ve created an interactive website to evaluate a site for TOD potential: “FIT: Future Investment in TOD.” The site gives users the key elements necessary for successfully fostering a TOD (such as connectivity, density, economic drivers, users, etc.) and allows them to rate their project. Additionally, SPC has created a step-by-step workbook which helps in the process of collecting qualitative data for a proposed site.

The FIT website can be accessed here and the workbook is available here.

Bustling Penn Avenue, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Jeffrey Inscho’s photostream