Building Cities Around Public Transit Could Change Urban Life

Building Cities Around Public Transit Could Change Urban Life
You can lower your carbon footprint by living closer to transit or walking to work.

"If you take a city that starts with a train system, you can encourage development around that train system," said Karen Weigert, senior fellow for global cities at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Transit-oriented development is a strategy that can improve access to public transportation and create more walkable cities. This type of development places higher-density housing near public transit, offers fewer car parking spaces and may include bike amenities.

"That is great for a lower cost of living because you don't have to own a car," she said. "It's also great for the businesses that might be walkable."

But public transit in the U.S. doesn't reach everyone.

"There are lots of places where having a car is the standard and where you really can't get from the place you are to the place you want to be," Weigert said.

Forty-five percent of U.S. households don't have access to public transit, according to a 2013 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

"So maybe you have to drive to a place but then there's that one walkable block, where you can go to a restaurant, go to a store, go to the library," she said. "More and more cities and more and more suburbs are creating those smaller walkable places."

"All of that comes together to make a really vibrant city that can be lower carbon," Weigert said.

This video includes images from Bobak Ha'Eri / CC BY 3.0 and Getty Images.