By Jenny Connelly-Bowen, CBN Community Development Specialist

Today, we’re sharing a transit-oriented development mapping tool created by Bi-State Development. Bi-State Development was established in 1949 as a compact between Missouri and Illinois and has since partnered with private and public organizations on many economic development projects. Their team includes leading experts in planning, implementation, and public transit.

This week’s op-ed by Bi-State’s Liza Farr, Associate Project Manager in Economic Development, discusses evolving plans to roll out a bike share program in the St. Louis region. One of the potential benefits of bike share, she notes, is its “value as a first-mile connection and boost for transit ridership,” since many people use bikes to access transit stations.

Bike share, then, has a significant role to play in transit-oriented development (TOD). Liza provided the following background information on TOD and Bi-State’s TOD Story Map, featured below. Read on to learn more:

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Transit-oriented development typically includes compact and connected development at and around transit infrastructure. There are many TOD projects in the works in St. Louis around MetroLink stations, but it can be hard to see the broader trend when only reading through news articles or even an Excel sheet. This interactive ArcGIS Story Map is a simple, attractive tool for many audiences that uses mapping to clarify the trends of TOD investment and illuminate opportunities and challenges for moving TOD forward in the region.

Bi-State Development’s Economic Development Department created the TOD Story Map below to display all investment within a half mile of a MetroLink Station that has been planned, under construction, or completed since 2011. A half mile is traditionally the maximum distance that the average person is willing to walk when accessing destinations from transit. The data was collected by tracking news articles and reports listing new development throughout the region. The data included on the map is unfortunately not entirely complete for every project due to limited availability of certain data points, but most include a brief description, completion year, dollars invested, residential unit count, rehabilitated or new square footage, commercial square footage, and jobs created. The descriptions of each project do not include this data—you can see these details by clicking on the shapes drawn on the map.

From this data, we know that more than $7 billion has been invested around transit stops over the past six years, along with around 5,700 residential units, and 14 million new square feet of development. All of those numbers indicate people and destinations are concentrating around transit, making MetroLink more accessible and useful for existing and new riders.

Although analyzing and tracking the quantitative data is an important result of this map, it is not the only purpose of the map—it also tells the story of TOD in the region. Many people are not aware of the extent to which TOD exists in St. Louis, and it can be hard to visualize without a map like this. Additionally, the images and descriptions help tell the story not only of how much TOD is happening, but what type of developments are being built around transit, who might enjoy those places, and why that development may make sense in order to help build livable, accessible, car-optional communities throughout the St. Louis region.