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Framework for Planning Parks Around Transit

We’ve been thinking more and more about the connection between transit and parks.  One useful resource in this area is the Station Area Planning Manual (pdf) prepared by Reconnecting America for the San Francisco Bay Area a few years ago. The manual is meant to be a guide for local governments as they plan areas around mass transit stations, and includes a basic framework for the role and types of public space. The report puts this issue in context:

Ultimately, the success of a plan is based on the quality and character of existing and new buildings, as well as the streets and open spaces within a station area. Different place types that are built using the plan’s guidance will have a mix of building types, and each building type will have a mix of architectural styles. In addition to buildings, there are different types of open spaces appropriate for TOD. The regional transit network should provide access to a range of different types of open spaces, from small transit plazas to large regional parks. While it
is unlikely that a single Station Area would include the full range of open space types, this typology is useful when making decisions about open spaces in Station Area Plans. The TOD Examples are Bay Area open spaces that are meant to illustrate the possibilities, not as examples to be replicated in every TOD location. The design of each open space should respond to site conditions, expected use patterns, and an analysis of station area open space needs.

The message is that there’s a variety of ways parks and public spaces can be provided. Transit stops are public spaces themselves and there can be plazas, parks, trails and connections to larger, more regional parks outside the service areas. And sometimes, large urban parks are destinations for transit themselves, as is the case with new light rail stations at Hermann Park in Houston, Minnehaha Falls Park in Minneapolis and Washington Park in Portland.

And while there is no concrete set of typologies related to parks and transit, the manual contains the following table that gives a basic framework of the different forms open space can take.

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