Accessibility-Oriented Development

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Access to jobs and the labor force by car within 30 min.
Access to jobs and the labor force by car within 30 min.

Local authorities worldwide have been pursuing transit-oriented development (TOD) strategies in order to increase transit ridership, curb traffic congestion, and rejuvenate urban neighborhoods. In many cities, however, development of planned sites around transit stations has been close to non-existent, due to, among other reasons, a lack of coordination between transit investments and land use at a broader spatial scale. Furthermore, while TOD considers access to transit, it often neglects the access to destinations that is provided by transit.

We contend that accessibility-oriented development (AOD) can overcome these drawbacks of transit-oriented development. The AOD strategy fosters an environment conducive to development by balancing access to both jobs and workers. As such, AOD explicitly considers the connections between TOD locations and destinations that matter, both locally and regionally. Where markets are free to take advantage of accessibility levels, AOD is a naturally occurring process. Planners could therefore use the various tools at their disposal to influence accessibility levels (to jobs and workers) in order to attract urban development in potential AOD areas.

To test the assumptions that guide AOD strategies, access to jobs and workers are calculated in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Canada in 2001 and 2011. Cross-sectional and temporal regressions are then performed to analyze average commute times and urban development occurring across the region. Results show that residents in neighborhoods with high access to jobs and low access to competing workers experience the shortest commute times in the region, while the relationship also holds for changes in average commute times between the studied time periods. In addition, both access to jobs and access to workers are associated with changes in residential, commercial and industrial development: high labor force accessibility is associated with increases in job density, and high access to jobs is related to increases in population density between 2001 and 2011. Planners can thus leverage accessibility as a tool to direct development in their cities and to strategically adjust commute times, thereby realizing the full benefits of planned transit investments.

Keywords: Transit-oriented development; Accessibility; Travel behavior; Land use