October 27, 2016

Did Transit-Oriented Development Take a Wrong Turn?

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Did Transit-Oriented Development Take a Wrong Turn?

As cities gear up to meet the next round of challenges residents face, one urban planner is looking at ways to keep everything close at hand.

Gabe Klein, who has worked with both Chicago and Washington, D.C. and helped launch the car-sharing service Zipcar, says cities can meet the needs of their residents with a few simple goals.

Read more: No Parking, No Problem

Local governments should welcome technology, innovation, neighborhood development, and public-private partnerships, Klein told writer Patrick Sisson. "It's pretty simple," Klein says. "Give people what they want within a quick walk."

Even as Chicago and other areas are emphasizing transit-oriented development, Klein says it's better to have everything right in the neighborhood. "Fundamentally, people want to have the majority of what they need in a five- to ten- minute walk. It's about curating interesting shops and services, the fundamentals that people need," he says. "I think for many years, we focused too much on transportation instead of focusing on land use. I feel good transportation plans involve moving people as little as possible. In some sense, the need to move people, especially vast distances, is a function of poor planning."

Self-driving cars holds some attraction for Klein's vision of the new city. "It's important to look at the technology and realize that without the entrepreneurs, it wouldn't go very far. I would also like to see the focus stay on creating great neighborhoods and using the technology [to complement planning efforts]."

Still, he says, the walkable city will always win over residents. "When you look at where real estate is the most expensive, it's where people have everything they need within a five minute walk. Don't call walking and biking alternative modes of transportation. ... In certain neighborhoods, including many around D.C., it's the primary mode of transportation."

Read the rest of his comments on successful neighborhoods at

Source: "What Makes a Neighborhood Successful? City Expert Weighs In," (Dec. 17, 2015)