Urban Planning

Many North American cities have prioritized active transportation in their strategic and official plans to address
a host of societal issues including climate change, public health concerns, economic development or community
livability. In this assignment, students will assume the role of a consultant hired by a Canadian city to make
recommendations for improving active transportation in the city. The overall objectives of this assignment are to:
a) develop specialization in an aspect of active transportation covered in the course; b) evaluate existing policy
and programs in international contexts; and, c) apply knowledge of the determinants and/or impacts of active
transportation to the local context.
There are five components to this assignment:
1. Topic selection
2. City context
3. Review of research
4. International case studies
5. Recommendations
1. Topic Selection
The focus of this assignment should be determined by your interests. Topics must explicitly identify: a) a mode
(e.g., cycling, walking, e-bikes); b) a population (e.g., older adults, tourists, women, protestors, general
population, business owners); and, c) an outcome/impact (e.g., physical activity, economic development,
injuries, public transit ridership, exposure to air pollution, frequency of car trips). Remember that the goal is to
make recommendations to decision-makers for how to improve/increase active transportation in their city.
Students should ask instructors if uncertain about their topic selection. Sample topics include:
• Cycling as first-last mile solution for commuters using new public transit line (mode: cycling,
population: transit commuters, outcome: first-last mile solution/multi-modal travel)
• Safety impacts of electric scooters for general population [mode: e-scooter, population: general
population (i.e., riders AND other road/trail users), outcome: safety (i.e., injuries and property damage)]
• Increasing walking behaviour in newly retired adults (mode: walking, population: retired residents,
outcome: increased physical activity/reduced car trips)
• Exposure to air pollution among student pedestrians
• Increasing cycling tourism in a rural community
• Nature walks for student mental health
• Increasing pedestrian shoppers in Business Improvement Area
• Increasing uptake of cycling among immigrant women
• Economic and social impact of skateboard and scooter parks on local community
• Assessing sustainability of e-scooter and e-bike technology over the life cycle
• Role of woonerfs or flex-streets to improve social interaction
• Connection between cycling infrastructure and gentrification
• Presence of urban green/blue space and physical activity levels of residents
• Supporting increased walking behaviour among dog owners
• Impact of social distancing on suburban vs urban cycling
• Financial impact of closure of transportation infrastructure due to public protest
• Increasing cycling behaviour in winter cities
• Use of bikeshares for reducing car trips in urban areas…
2. City Context
Pick a small, medium or large city in Canada that could benefit from your research topic (i.e., don’t select escooter share in a small rural community where its introduction is unlikely; avoid focusing on populations that
are small/absent in your city). Gather data about your city’s population, topography, current land-use, economic
conditions and major employers. Review 2016 census data for a basic demographic profile of your community
and current mode split. Examine current active transportation/transportation master plans in your city to support
your topic selection/relevance of your issue in the community.
3. Review of Research
With your topic decided, begin to search the literature for existing knowledge on your topic. Look for best
practices, program/plan evaluations, evidence of the link between your selected mode and outcome/impact.
When completing this section of your assignment, at least 25 sources must be academic articles on/related to
your topic with at least three from the course reading list. An additional (minimum) five consulting reports,
policy papers, white/working papers (i.e., grey literature) are to be included in this review.
4. International Case Studies
You must select international case study (i.e., relevant example) sites to use as comparators for your Canadian
city. Undergraduate students will select two sites and graduate students will select three. These cities should be
exemplars on one or more aspects of your topic (mode, population and outcome/impact) and similar to your
Canadian city based on population size, topography, land-use or other relevant factor. For example, if you are
examining e-bike use in a city with hilly terrain, San Francisco would be an ideal case study site; a focus on
immigrant women cyclists could benefit from an Australian city with similarly high rates of immigrant women
as a comparator.
5. Recommendations
Based on the research review and international case study sites, you must make recommendations for improving
or increasing active transportation in your Canadian city. These recommendations should be tailored to the city
context and be justified using the academic literature and international case studies. Undergraduate students
should make 3-5 recommendations and graduate students should make 6-8 recommendations.
This final paper should be approximately 4,000 words in length for undergraduate students and approximately
6,000 words in length for graduate students (+/- 500 words). This assignment should be double-spaced, use 12-
point font and 1” margins. The format and approximate percentage of word count per section is as follows:
1. Introduction (~5%)
a. Brief description of topic and its relevance
b. Outline of paper
2. Canadian City Context (~15%)
a. Overview of your city with emphasis on aspects related to your topic
b. Discussion of demographics and mode share
c. Description of active transportation priorities and relation to your topic
3. Review of Research (~25%)
a. Synthesis of academic and grey literatures using appropriate subheadings organized
according to your topic
4. Case Studies (~30%) *Separate section for each case study site
a. Overview of city and why it is an appropriate comparator
b. Description of active transportation policy/programs
c. Evaluate and discuss the impacts of those programs with attention to aspects relevant to your
5. Recommendations (~25%)
a. Provide specific recommendations for the Canadian city to improve and/or increase active
transportation as related to your topic
b. Justify each of these recommendations with evidence from existing literature and/or case
This assignment is worth 25% of your final grade and will be assessed using the following three areas:
Meets/Exceeds All Expectations
Meets Some Expectations
Below Expectations
Research Quality (50%)
5 or 4 3 or 2 1 or 0
• Appropriate breadth and depth of
literature included for review.
• Literature review is well
organized and synthesized with
relevant aspects highlighted.
• Case studies are appropriate
comparators for Canadian city
and selection is clearly justified.
• In-depth and tailored description
of case studies.
• All referencing requirements are
• Gaps in breadth or depth of
literature reviewed.
• Literature review has some
organization and synthesis;
relevant issues are difficult to
• Case studies are adequate
comparators for Canadian city
and somewhat justified.
• Some description of case
studies but depth and focus
• Most referencing requirements
are met.
• Poor selection of literature for
• Literature review written as
summary document with little
synthesis or mention of relevance.
• Case studies are poorly selected
and inadequately justified.
• Basic description of case studies
with details absent.
• Few/none of the referencing
requirements are met.
Recommendations (30%)
5 or 4 3 or 2 1 or 0
• Appropriate recommendations
are put forward relevant to the
context of the city.
• Each recommendation is clearly
justified with ample reference to
scholarly sources, existing
policies and case study impacts
as supporting evidence.
• Recommendations are put
forward but are disconnected
from the city context.
• Recommendations justified
using partial evidence from
scholarly sources, existing
policies and case study
• Recommendations are
inappropriate given context of the
• Recommendations lack
justification and/or are poorly
justified with insufficient
Writing Quality (20%)
5 or 4 3 or 2 1 or 0
• Well-organized document with
appropriate introduction,
• Some organization in
document with limited flow
between sections and partial
• Document poorly organized with
disconnected sections and poor or
conclusion and flow between
• Well-written according to
standards and expectations of
university students.
• No or very few errors in
grammar and spelling.
• Adheres to all or most of the
instructions in formatting.
effort to introduce and
conclude the assignment.
• Mainly well-written according
to most of the standards and
expectations of university
• Some errors in grammar and
• Adheres to some of the
instructions in formatting.
missing introductory and
concluding sections.
• Poorly written; below the
standards and expectations of
university students.
• Several errors in grammar and
• Does not adhere to all of the
instructions in formatting.
Submission Guidelines
Assignments are to be submitted in PDF format to the assignment Dropbox on Learn by 9:00pm EST on the
assignment due date. Late penalties will apply as per the course syllabus.

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