Transit-Supportive Guidelines

Section 2.1 Layout of Local Streets and Open Spaces

2.1.1 Local Street and Block Pattern

The local street and block pattern should be designed as an interconnected grid network aimed at maximizing connectivity for all travel modes and minimizing travel distances to surrounding streets, uses and open spaces.

A key factor in the creation of transit-supportive environments is the establishment of a well connected street system capable of accommodating diverse transportation modes including walking, cycling, transit and the private automobile. Transit users are sensitive to the distance they must walk or ride their bike to reach a transit stop or station, and long, circuitous routes will discourage travel to and from transit services even if the quality and frequency of transit service is good. While mid-block walkways can sometimes help compensate for a disconnected street network, these must be designed for safe, year-round use with appropriate lighting and maintenance to ensure that they are appealing to a range of users.

Streets in transit-supportive places bring together and balance a wide range of users, from pedestrians and cyclists to private vehicle drivers, in a setting that is highly visible and connected to the uses around them. Establishing a grid pattern of streets and blocks with a high street intersection density that maximizes connectivity and links with both the existing and proposed networks of streets will create multiple options for moving between destinations. This can provide more direct connections with transit services along arterial and collector streets and minimize travel times for pedestrians and cyclists.

Walkable neighbourhoods typically have a higher number of intersections per hectare (iph). Achieving an intersection density of 0.6 iph or higher in nodes and corridors will help create multiple options for moving between destinations, enhancing connections between transit services and nearby uses.

Walkable neighbourhoods typically have a higher number of intersections per hectare (iph). Achieving an intersection density of 0.6 iph or higher in nodes and corridors will help create multiple options for moving between destinations, enhancing connections between transit services and nearby uses.

Strategies Legend
Applicable Community Scale
Small Community icon Small
Mid-size Community icon Mid-size
Large Community icon Large
Big City icon Big City
Planning Scale
Site Planning icon Site
District Planning icon District
Municipal Planning icon Municipal
Regional Planning icon Regional
Green Action icon Green Action

Strategies:

layout

  1. Establish an interconnected network of streets in new developments and retrofit existing areas (Guideline 1.1.4) to maximize routing options between destinations.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Extend new streets and block connections across property lines and design networks to link with existing and proposed streets within the community.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  3. Design or retrofit street networks so that a significant majority of residents or jobs (e.g. 90%) are located within a 400 m (approximately 5 minutes) or less walk from a transit stop.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  4. Achieve a street intersection density of greater than 0.3 intersections per hectare (iph), with higher street intersection densities of over 0.6 intersections per hectare in mixed-use nodes and corridors.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

Street Intersection Density

One measure of a local street and block network is its street intersection density. The street intersection density considers the number of intersections within a given area and is a useful way of comparing the walkability of one area against another. Generally, the higher the street intersection density the greater potential the area has to become a walkable environment.

Travel and the Built Environment: A Meta-Analysis (Ewing and Cervero)

A rear access lane permits this housing in Markham to face onto a limited access arterial road.

A rear access lane permits this housing in Markham to face onto a limited access arterial road.

Recommended Resources

Case Study: Station Intensification

Urban Design Compendium, Volume 1 (English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation)

physical design

  1. Minimize block lengths to promote greater connectivity and enhance the walkability of neighbourhoods. Generally, residential blocks should be less than 250 m along their longest side, with maximum block lengths of 120 m in mixed-use activity nodes and corridors.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Design local streets to minimize the need for backtracking and provide direct pedestrian access to primary streets, transit stops and stations where possible.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  3. Avoid the creation of dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs to maximize street connectivity.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  4. Avoid the creation of lay-by lanes which result in increased street widths and decreased pedestrian space within the sidewalk and boulevard area of the street. While generally not desired, there may be circumstances such as at elementary schools or daycares where high numbers of drop-offs and legitimate passenger safety concerns may require the use of lay-by lanes to facilitate passenger drop-off and pick up.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

pedestrian access

  1. Avoid the use of window streets, which double up road infrastructure and pull uses away from the street. Where limited access is required, buildings facing onto streets should be accessed via a rear drive or lane.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Where it is not possible for the layout of streets and blocks to achieve the walking distance criteria, a mid-block connection or pedestrian pathway can be used to minimize walking distances. These should be:
    • constructed of durable, non-slip materials;
    • direct, visible from adjacent uses and illuminated at night to enhance personal safety; and
    • maintained year-round and cleared of snow and ice during winter months.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

2.1.2 Open Space Networks

Planning for new and existing open space networks should be coordinated with existing and planned transit systems to strengthen connections to and from transit services and enhance the experience of transit users.

Open space networks are linked parks, plazas, natural areas, and bicycle/walking trails. The layout and design of a community’s open spaces can help to support transit use by enhancing connections between the community and its transit network, integrating stations into their surroundings and improving the experience for transit users. Plazas, parks, and trails help to make higher-density, transit-supportive environments more attractive and liveable. When provided in conjunction with higher-density, mixed-use development along a route or corridor, open space systems can be important generators of activity, encouraging people to take transit rather than drive to reach recreational activities.

From a commuting perspective, the creation and/or coordination of a comprehensive park and open space network that is linked to transit stops and station areas is an important opportunity to strengthen connections between a community and its transit system. Linking a transit system to a network of parks and open spaces can provide access for users to off-street pedestrian and cycling trail systems, extending the reach of station catchment areas. At the scale of the station, the introduction of new plazas or other open spaces represents an opportunity to strengthen the identity of the station and surrounding area as a neighbourhood and community hub, enhance local connectivity and provide a place for amenities such as seating, public art or cycling facilities.

Where planned investments in transit result in a grade-separated rights-of-way, the creation of a transit-side trail system is an excellent way to enhance connections for pedestrians and cyclists leading to and from stations. The MetroBikeLink in St Clair County, Illinois (above), connects urban and regional open spaces along the MetroLink transit line.

Where planned investments in transit result in a grade-separated rights-of-way, the creation of a transit-side trail system is an excellent way to enhance connections for pedestrians and cyclists leading to and from stations. The MetroBikeLink in St Clair County, Illinois (above), connects urban and regional open spaces along the MetroLink transit line.

Strategies:

layout

  1. Extend existing park and open space networks, where possible, to link with transit stops and station areas.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Where planned transit investments occur off-street, along green corridors or in utility rights-of-way, explore the potential for the transit corridors to act as an extension of the community’s open space network. Strategies could include:
    • the creation of a transit-side multi-use trail connecting with existing trails and open spaces along the route; andGreen Action icon
    • landscaping the transit corridor to create a planted greenway that results in a more positive experience for users and enhances the image of the system.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning iconGreen Action icon
  3. Pursue opportunities to co-locate destination open spaces and transit networks to enable access to these areas by transit, while taking into consideration compatibility and safety measures where appropriate.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning iconGreen Action icon

San Francisco: Transit and Trails

The Transit and Trails program run by the Bay Area’s Open Space Council connects transit users with local open space networks. A unique web-based trip planner helps users plan their outings by enabling them to search for parks or trails and identifying how to get there on public transit. Users can search trailheads and preset trips and share trip experiences online.

Transit and Trails Program (Bay Area Open Space Council)

Extending park and open space networks to connect with station areas can help to extend station catchment areas by strengthening connections between surrounding neighbourhoods and the transit system. Networks can be extended over time through targeted streetscape improvements, the extension of pathways through existing public easements or through the development approvals process in negotiation with area developers.

Extending park and open space networks to connect with station areas can help to extend station catchment areas by strengthening connections between surrounding neighbourhoods and the transit system. Networks can be extended over time through targeted streetscape improvements, the extension of pathways through existing public easements or through the development approvals process in negotiation with area developers.

Recommended Resources

Urban Design Compendium Volume 1 (English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation)

transit plazas

  1. Explore the creation of a station-related open space at regional destinations or at stations along rapid transit corridors to:
    • enhance connections between a surrounding neighbourhood and the station area;
    • provide a quality location through design and use of high-quality materials for user amenities such as wayfinding, public art and/or seating and support ancillary uses such as coffee shops and convenience stores;
    • provide a location for cycling-supportive facilities such as racks, lockers and drinking fountains; and
    • strengthen the identity of the station and surrounding area as a destination and community hub.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

planning strategies

  1. Coordinate the planning of new parks and open spaces alongside the planning of new transit systems and/or facilities to maximize mutual benefit.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconGreen Action icon
  2. Include information on local open spaces and amenities such as recreational facilities in transit websites and other resources, and provide transit links on websites to help residents plan their outings without having to take their cars.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  3. The design of large destination open spaces should support public transit by locating amenities such as washrooms and restaurants where they are easily accessible to transit users. Higher traffic generating uses should be located in closer proximity to transit services.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  4. Account for seasonal variations in open space usage and special events in service scheduling so that there is a higher level of service during peak periods or seasons.Municipal Planning icon

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