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Participatory design in transit-oriented development uncovers social benefits

Fernandez Milan, Blanca; Creutzig, Felix

Transit-oriented development (TOD) tackles multiple challenges simultaneously and fosters sustainable urban development. Low-carbon intensity transport modes help mitigating climate change, enhance the quality of local ecosystems and offer monetary savings. While less well studied, TOD also positively affects citizen’s social interactions. The social sustainability that can be drawn from TOD interventions may multiply when designed through participatory planning processes. To investigate this hypothesis, we evaluate TOD and participatory intervention for Medellin (Colombia). We find that designing TOD together with participatory measures results not only in the decrease of motorized transport modes, but also in positive changes in socioeconomic variables, people´s perception of public interventions and in social capital especially of disadvantaged groups. Making citizens feeling part of the projects that shape their communities fosters transparency, trust, social inclusion, collective action and social networks. Participatory measures can catalyse urban sustainability.