CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE: Transit-oriented Developments (TODs) – A Health Focus

Transit-oriented Developments (TODs)


The Transit-oriented Developments (TODs) Health Lens project was a collaboration between the South Australian Department of Planning and Local Government, the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, the Land Management Corporation and SA Health. The project examined the complex interplay between a range of urban factors that impact on health and wellbeing and hence the ‘liveability’ and desirability of these developments. A key outcome of the project was the development of Transit-oriented Developments…through a health lens – A Guide for Health Urban Developments. This document reflects a cross-agency approach to the development of liveable TODs and provides a consistent set of principles for their delivery.

The Guide provides planners, public and environmental health professionals, designers and engineers with an agreed evidence base which links the quality and form of the built environment with the health and well-being of the community.

From a cycling perspective, it is a very interesting document as it promotes cycling as a one means of transports which has benefits, health benefits for the community.

The executive summary of the report follows:

This document has been produced to support the development of healthy transit-oriented developments in South Australia and is not intended to represent formal government policy. South Australia’s Strategic Plan provides a comprehensive statement of what South Australia’s future can be. Its six broad objectives aim for a growing and sustainable economy and a strong social fabric. Within this framework sit substantial action plans to help reach the strategic targets. The 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide is one of these. It outlines a strategy to further underpin the state’s economic growth to support Adelaide as a competitive, liveable and sustainable city to 2040, and to make better use of existing infrastructure.

In the past, development was centred on automobile use and has consequently contributed to a range of health, social and environmental concerns including the global epidemic of obesity, community isolation,poor air quality, over-consumption of valuable land and increased reliance on private vehicles. Transit oriented developments (TODs) offer a different approach to development and offer new lifestyle options for people. They provide more travel choice as well as greener and healthier travel options through the creation of new walking communities in and around TODs. The 30-Year Plan seeks to create more walkable neighbourhoods, develop higher density areas of good-practice, sustainable urban design, and create a network of public space precincts to absorb local carbon emissions and provide sheltered, cooler places for people to use.

Within the 30-Year Plan there will be a greater focus on concentrating development growth in both existing and new suburbs around dedicated public transport corridors in higher density, mixed-use commercial and residential hubs. These TODs will bring more homes and jobs within walking distance of public transport.

Consistent with these directions, there is recognition of the significant influence of urban form on population health. This guide identifies the multiple links between urban design, transport and the health of the population, and draws upon a growing body of research evidence to draw out the relationships between quality of place and quality of life. It illustrates the potential to deliver improved health outcomes through better use of urban form that demonstrates good-practice, sustainable design.Applying a collaborative ‘health lens’ to the planning and delivery of TODs in South Australia sets out,for the first time, the complex interplay between factors associated with higher density development that impact on community health and wellbeing. It explores healthy outcomes and environmental sustainability from the wider perspective, and considers issues associated with ‘liveability’—such as the importance of attractive, inclusive, accessible, safe and diverse places to secure community wellbeing and economic prosperity.

This collaborative project consolidates and builds upon the studies of successful overseas TODs. The health lens analysis has been conducted at a time of rapid growth in understanding the impacts of urban development on health, and in South Australia’s experience in the design and development of TODs. It is also recognised that not all TODs are the same. While there are some common underlying characteristics,TODs are necessarily location specific and take time to mature. While the issues identified in this health lens analysis retain their relevance over time, issue management is necessarily adaptive as characteristics change from time to time and place to place.

It is hoped that this document will provide a resource for relevant agencies involved in planning,development and related fields to inform and prompt discussion around Adelaide’s transition from car oriented development to a more compact, environmentally sustainable and people-friendly urban form.

A PDF copy of the report can be downloaded here.

Healthy Connected Communities

A public resource titled ‘Healthy Connected Communities’ has also been developed to complement the Guide. The public resource explains the benefits of well-designed TODs in plain language and is intended for a broader audience, including community members. It also includes a case-study of the Bowden TOD (the first to be rolled-out as part of the 30 Year Plan) to demonstrate how the principles developed in the Guide can be applied by planners and developers.

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