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Mobility and Community Form


The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) seeks to promote a new approach to local transportation planning by placing community life at the center of the planning process. Fundamental to this approach is the encouragement of mobility patterns that support walking, social interaction, and civic life. Lively communities consist of people and events, not merely buildings and streets. Local planners must look beyond conventional planning methods and work to achieve more satisfying community forms.

An organizing principle for this approach is the concept of the Transect, a planning tool that represents an idealized “geographic slice” of the elements and scale of development patterns. These elements and patterns are depicted in a manner that gradually increases in both density and scale along a continuum from natural and rural to suburban and urban. The Transect helps the viewer visualize the appropriate development patterns at each scale, where the various “pieces” belong and how they fit together, and the transitions that occur as development takes place and density increases. Since its introduction to the planning profession, the Transect has evolved and been applied to a variety of uses, including form-based zoning codes.

However, the needs and activities of people are not represented in existing Transects. In place of people, movement, and activity, Transect diagrams typically represent buildings, streets, and landscape details. The Activity-Based Transect (pdf 8.8m) expands the concept to include the basic patterns of social and economic activity
Urban Density Evolution
that occur throughout the continuum from the natural to the urban realm. It can be read from left to right as a progression from rural highlands and agricultural areas through towns and suburbs to a central city, then on to the port industry and seaside towns of the New Jersey shore. Together with the Patterns and the accompanying guide, the Transect can help municipalities better understand the dynamics of community form and work to improve mobility and the quality of life in New Jersey’s communities.
Transect Figure
(Click to enlarge, pdf 8.8m)

There are files above that are in Portable Document Format (PDF). You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the files, which is available free from our state Adobe Access page.

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  Last Updated:  November 3, 2008