Sometimes, when people discuss transit and transportation, they discuss the issues of transportation as if they were separate from land use policy and zoning. The truth is, these two things are linked very closely.
For example, if you wanted to walk or bike to the store from your house, would you be more likely to use these modes if there were many multilane roads/highways to cross to get there? What if a bus stop you needed to access was located on the other side of an interstate? How likely would you be to use these modes?
If we do not start to realize the link between land use and transportation, we are in for a rude awakening when gas prices begin to rise again. Luckily, the Obama administration recently announced that there would be a partnership developed between HUD and DOT to build “sustainable communities”.
Though I doubt any fully sustainable communities will be created in the very near future, this partnership is a great first step towards developing walkable, bikable livable communities. Lower income housing should also be more closely developed in conjunction with transportation. A recent study, the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, showed that affordability of housing goes way down in exurban areas when the cost of transportation is added in. Data for the Albuquerque metro region is here, and data for the Tucson metro region is here.
This link has been documented for years, but having this great new interactive data set will allow people to see the link between land use and transportation more closely.