Accessibility Oriented Development

Recent working paper:

AoDMunicipal governments 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 the regional scale. Furthermore, the ability to access transit differs from the ability to access destinations that people care about. Reframing transit-oriented development as accessibility-oriented development (AOD) can aid the process of creating functional connections between neighborhoods and the rest of the region, and maximize benefits from transport investments. AOD is a strategy that balances accessibility to employment and the labor force in order to foster an environment conducive to development. AOD areas are thus defined as having higher than average accessibility to employment opportunities and/or the labor force; such accessibility levels are expected to increase the quality of life of residents living in these areas by reducing their commute time and encouraging faster economic development. To quantify the benefits of AOD, accessibility to employment and the labor force are calculated in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Canada in 2001 and 2011. Cross-sectional and temporal regressions are then performed to predict average commute times and development occurring in AOD areas and across the region. Results show that AOD neighborhoods with high accessibility to jobs and low accessibility to the labor force have the lowest commute times in the region, while the relationship also holds for changes in average commute time between the studied time periods. In addition, both accessibility to jobs and accessibility to the labor force are associated with changes in development, as areas with high accessibility to jobs and the labor force attract more development. In order to realize the full benefits of planned transit investments, planning professionals and policy makers alike should therefore leverage accessibility as a tool to direct development in their cities, and concentrate on developing neighbourhoods with an AOD approach in mind.