COVID 1000 and Beyond: Making Better Choices


  • Ahmed El-Geneidy—Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill University, Montreal

  • Howaida Hassan—Director Urban Growth and Open Space, City of Edmonton, Edmonton

  • Benjamin de la Peña—CEO, Shared-Use Mobility Center, Chicago


A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. COVID-19 has laid bare systemic failures in ensuring human flourishing.

Howaida Hassan, Director of Urban Growth and Open Space at the City of Edmonton brought a unique perspective to issues of housing, transportation and the liveability of spaces from Edmonton. The past 1000 days of COVID have laid bare the systemic failures in getting food, shelter, and basic access to mobility for vulnerable populations. For all, it has made clear the necessity of experiencing engaging common spaces with access to nature, and the ways in which city planning has failed to deliver this. The way forward must include holistic thinking on building spaces that maximize human connection and needs.

2. Multi-modal and cross-sector thinking is an increasing necessity in urban planning.

In order to move forward in resolving the major structural issues that the pandemic has brought to the surface, Howaida emphizes that city planners are increasingly being asked not just to provide well-thought-out technical solutions, but to consider ecological, equity, climate, and other outcomes. This deviation from traditional siloed thinking is a major post-covid shift, and a necessary one, and its impacts are particularly important in ensuring that a range of wrap-around services rather than band-aid solutions are implemented in serving the needs of vulnerable populations, such as unhoused persons.

3. Transit needs to be considered an essential service.

Ahmed El-Geneidy, a Professor at the School of Urban Planning at McGill University asserted that transit must be considered an essential service. Much like other public services or utilities, essential workers and many others rely on public transportation in order to keep our economy functioning. As such, transit should be considered a worthy investment, rather than as a source of profit generation. The way forward must include a commitment to keeping public transport running at high-capacity, increased investment in transit infrastructure, and a removing the burden of profit-generation from the mandates of transit authorities, so that they can keep it focused on what matters.

4. Long-term solutions require both quick mobilization and careful public consultation.

Multiple speakers touched on the importance of putting in place long-term solutions after the pandemic. The pandemic showed us that bureaucracy can mobilize quickly and effectively to achieve policy and infrastructure outcomes. We must maintain that quick momentum to keep up pace with city-building needs over the next decade, especially as issue such as the climate crisis continue to evolve. However, we must ensure that cases such as bike lanes disappearing after a temporary pandemic installation, due to inadequate public consultation, should not happen. Public consultations must be deliberate and carefully planned, whilst the mobilization of resources must remain speedy and flexible.

5. Mobility justice frameworks can guide us moving forward.

Benjamin de la Peña, the CEO of the Shared-Use Mobility Centre in Chicago shared the importance of adopting a mobility justice framework onto the whole ecosystem of transportation within cities — not just buses and trains, but also rideshare apps, bicycles, sidewalks, roads, and more. De la Peña cites a University of Michigan study finding that more than a quarter of adults aged 25 or older in the United States are transportation “insecure”, meaning they are unable to consistently move from place to place in a safe or timely manner. A mobility justice framework allows us to view this situation as a public health crisis. Mobility justice reaches for solutions beyond electrifying cars, and seeks to resolve car dependency. Although profit must not be a central motive, de la Peña also notes that better uses of public spaces often benefit both people and the economy, citing the example of the pop-up curbside patios in emerged throughout the pandemic in Toronto, which made 49 times more revenue than the parking they replaced.



Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software.  Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:01
The next, session is on making a better choices.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:05
And I’m gonna ask my colleagues to come on this you’ll see that in each case we’ve tried to title the session, just in short sound bites.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:14
What we think the the lessons may be out of the dis, the experience, of the 3 that are coming on now, and as I suggested, this is kind of a rolling process people will be Coming in and Out we had a couple of ministers who Confirmed at the last minute who were stepping out

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:27
A question period. They are going to come on. So it’s kind of a free flow conversation.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:31
And I appreciate our Colleagues being up for that challenge and I think there are 35 people that are coming into the program. Today.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:38
But just to flag, that we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people participate in city talks, as panelists.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:44
As you 3 are but we’ve also had thousands of people listening.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:48
And there are each of us, have many, many, many people behind us, who also reflect the kinds of concerns and priorities, that you’re going to flag for us.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:19:57
So I, appreciate you 3 being willing to come on and share your experience Benji, nice to see you are, you in Wintry Chicago, it looks as if you’ve got nice weather, behind it you’re, Muted Benjy, you did Mute, mute will, unmute, you and actually

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:20:11
I I am in Hi, Hi, Mary, I am in Chicago.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:20:14
It’s not so entry. It’s in the porties today.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:15
Oh! My gosh, you’re enjoying it, and Hawaii are you in Edmonton?

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:20:16
So, that’s pretty good.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:20:19
I am

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:20
Yeah, and I’m, a you’re in. More, real, we wonderful, okay, well, listen.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:20:22
Yes, yeah.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:25
We’re so glad to have you to give some perspective, and if you think my making better choices was the Wrong Title.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:31
By all means redo it, but the key thing we’re asking all of these sessions, is what do.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:36
You think the key lessons have been through the last 1,000 days.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:39
And what do. You think should stick for the next 1,000, and what we’re calling the Covid dividend, what is it?

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:46
What should it look like so I’ve interested in each of your perspectives about that.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:20:49
And I’m going to start with you, Hawaii, because you’re in Edmonton and get you to start and then we’ll go to Ahmed and then to Benji, what do you think the best Lessons have been and what do you think we need to be paying attention, to going forward.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:21:00
Over to you.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:02
Thanks. Mary, yeah, I thought I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:06
And especially Since, we’re, you know return to, works and you know back to work in April, and taking the public transit system, and seeing what we see it’s.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:15
It’s Covid’s laid pretty bare for us, and made clear for everyone.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:17
The Inequities, and Urban issues, that many people are already experiencing, so it’s not that these are new, things it’s just no it’s more front center for us it become far more visible, for me, of us, in in our Communities, the Amount of Work, we need to do to address that

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:32
equity, the the inequities, the stigma, and the Equal, access to Housing and transportation, so even now is like, I say, as many of us, sort, of return to normal we continue to see Those, Disparities, and issues playing Out with our Vulnerable, Populations, on public Transit, systems and our

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:48
Streets you know they’re barely surviving, and then on the other end of the spectrum.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:51
We have. People who are expecting greater access to say bike, infrastructure open spaces.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:21:56
You know, because some of that became even more apparent for us during Covid and the need for us to have access to those important places, so you know, and who expected sort of that ebay boom that which is great for getting a greater segment, of the population to consider biking as a means of getting around

[Howaida Hassan] 11:22:11
But and so you know this is great for the environment, livability, vibrancy, and all those great things, for our cities, and urban centers.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:22:20
But we need to recognize the privilege that then comes with that, and having access to ebikes, and ensuring that we’re not only hearing again from from that kind of select group of the population so generally, what I’ve been reflecting on is an engineers I generally think the expectation of City

[Howaida Hassan] 11:22:35
Planners, and engineers is that the professions that that we are in are increasingly need needing to broaden what city building means in our perspective. Disciplines.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:22:46
So as an engineer, I’m continuing to be expected to bring you know well, thought out technical solutions to the table.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:22:51
But there’s an added expectation that we co-consider equity, ecology, and climate, alongside, of our Traditional technical focus areas.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:22:59
So the ways in which we apply our professional practice is shifting. I think the expectation now is that We’re quite multi-modal that as engineers and planners who are working in an urban context in particular and not only apply sort of our academic training but we’re also

[Howaida Hassan] 11:23:13
Co-considering like I say that the equity, Climate, and Social Impacts of the work, we do and the change.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:23:20
It can have and so I at least from my perspective, that is pretty much the expectation of our elected officials, the public Writ, large That there is this expectation pretty much as a matter of fact, now

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:23:32
Your job hasn’t gotten easier

[Howaida Hassan] 11:23:34
Not at all, but I would say more rich.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:23:38
That’s Interesting More Varied and this Idea of Equity, Ecology and Climate, I’m Just, curious Hawaii what is the Ridership on Transit and Emmonson Sitting at Right now You know

[Howaida Hassan] 11:23:49
I believe the latest is that it’s hovering closer to 80, 80, 85% of what it?

[Howaida Hassan] 11:23:54
Was so. It’s not too bad. I personally ride it every day, and I do see it being quite well used needing to start rewearing my mask again that’s for sure because I feel like very.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:23:56

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:03
Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting. You know we’re looking at foot Traffic numbers.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:24:04
Close quarters. Now, yeah.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:08
Because of all the work that Cli is doing on Main Streets and downtowns, and the foot traffic seems in certain cities, to be bumping up, as is transit, bumping up but They’re not going into their offices, so this is it’s it’s.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:21
A weird kind of counter dynamic. You kind of why don’t you find and if you’re, in traffic, it’s very.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:26
The traffic is terrible and you’re looking thinking. Well, where are people going?

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:29
If they’re not actually going to their office so it’s and as you suggest the equity challenge is quite significant in terms of the and you, you laid out that juxtaposition about we we need Vulnerable populations, and essential workers need access to transit and we’ve also got

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:44
This pressure, to suddenly put in new Bike Lanes.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:46
It’s hard to square that a

[Howaida Hassan] 11:24:48
Yeah, it’s quite a spectrum. I would say, right now, like and again, I think it’s it’s just come to bear because Covid, just kind of really focused in on those things that we needed as human Beings so for the most Vulnerable, just the very, basic things.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:24:50

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:25:00

[Howaida Hassan] 11:25:03
Like Food Shelter and mobility, and for others of us who have the privilege of having some of those, those basics in place, then it was like oh, well, what are my other human needs that I have that that need to be fulfilled and it’s it’s that you know having access to

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:25:13

[Howaida Hassan] 11:25:17
open spaces, and ecology, and nature, so it is.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:25:21
It’s quite interesting, actually

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:25:22
And such an interesting time to kind of reflect, all of that coming at us at the same time, with not much Breathing space, I Appreciate all you’ve been through Hawaii you know you’re, a public Servant you’ve been at your desk, or at your post through this whole period of time, and

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:25:35
just remarkable. What you’ve been able to sign in.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:25:38
And as you say the important lessons going forward on it let’s hear from you and then Benji in Chicago.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:25:43
Alright, thanks, Mary, thank you so much for having me today.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:25:48
I think one of the things we we we didn’t learn is that transit is an essential service.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:25:53
We kept seeing transit is in session, essential service. We need to keep it.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:25:57
We need to keep funding it. So we need to keep people, essential workers, get into the destinations and now we forgot that now we are telling oh no it’s transit needs to be making money.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:08
More, and we need the higher phone box recovery issue trying to get it to make money.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:14
But shouldn’t be making money. It’s just it’s a service will help us in many aspects and equity.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:21
And divine, and invite in our fight against climate change.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:27
So we have keep thinking of transit as essential service.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:31
And we need to understand that telecommuting is a fact.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:34
It’s here to state what happened with the telecommunications with the Covid, it accelerated our political view I Will Movement to Telecommute many of us now are Working one Day today, from Home 3 Days from Home some people Go, only one Day to the Office, so Transit Agencies

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:51
Has now to adapt. We need to understand that we won’t have all the leadership that was precovered to come back right away.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:26:59
Because there’s this intel commute that it’s happening.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:03
It’s stained, and we have to start offering new transit fails, new flexibility in the phase.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:27:08

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:10
So that’s one thing, that some agencies did catch up, and they’ll offering that others are not so that’s from the transit perspective.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:18
What we so so I don’t think we learned well in the transit aspect, to be honest and many of us are like.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:27:22

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:26
Many agencies are still now struggling and of, and the politicians are not putting the pressures on the agencies to deliver.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:34
Like they can’t do it. There’s no like.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:27:35
And plus they’re big lumbering systems, right?

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:36
Many, people, okay.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:27:39
I mean, I know Benji will talk a little bit about this, because he’s familiar with smaller systems.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:27:42
But that’s one of the dilemmas, as you suggest, is to try to get one of our large transit systems, in in the Canadian cities to actually change much of anything and they’re not always as integrated into the regional, system, as they might you have that you’ve got that

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:55

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:27:58
challenge, to

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:27:58
So, so that’s one thing, the other thing that we learned, and we learned, I hope we learned it well, is that we can do a lot of active transport.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:28:05

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:28:05
So active Transport we succeeded to put across the country Amazing bicycle leads Excellent Pedestrian Streets all over North America.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:28:19
This has happened and took place, and the 5 again is these so that it’s the woman calls and we can’t do it.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:28:25
Nobody’s gonna come all of that you are just saying that you is finding people moving in downtown and people are coming and walking around for the so these are successful things that we can do and we learn that we can do it we can do it quickly.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:28:38
And people will support it. But we need to also understand the dynamics of the local dynamics.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:28:44
When making these decisions in Montreal, in some some of these projects, people really wanted them, and want to keep them after Covid, and after they were placed but in others they were done quickly the they didn’t Consult well, on it so there was a lot of back and forth, with local, local, groups and a Bike Lane was

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:29:07
removed after it was being placed. Why? Because there was a find there, and they didn’t talk to the people before they put it in understand the situation.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:29:15
So I think we learned that we can do a lot in active transport.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:29:20
But we need to talk to people, we, we in some of these projects.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:29:24
We didn’t talk enough. So that’s why, some of them got the backlash on the the okay.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:29:33
You know, this is one of the Dilemmas. I think, is that on the one hand.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:29:37
We acted quite quickly. And that was a positive I think during Covid that there was that we were able to have provide nimble response, but as you’ve suggested it there was a Backlash that people didn’t feel Adequately Consulted and I think this is this tension

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:29:40

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:29:51
We carry and you would carry at Hawaii as a professional working for the municipality, is that how do we actually make sure we’re consulting effectively but that we also still get some stuff, done ahmed can I ask you a question more question about money, and then I’m going

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:30:04
To go to Benji, on scale. You know during the crisis.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:30:09
In Canada, the Federal Government stepped in and provided relief and actually provided resources that could compensate for drops and fare boxes.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:30:18
Do you think we’re gonna hit that point where we recognize that as you suggest transit itself is an essential service, and it should be funded as an essential service in other words, the Federal government should not be resisting providing resources to help with the operating costs of transit have you given thought to that

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:30:36
I hope I thought, that that’s where we get there, because if we and this is one of the things I think we didn’t learn.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:30:43
We. Now we are putting most. If you look across all of North America, and all of a in in Canada, almost all of level, in deficits, all of them, counting deep deficits, all transit authorities, and We Told, them keep the transit at the higher level of service you had before Covid, because we

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:31:02
It’s an essential service, but we’re not going to give you the money.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:31:05
Yeah yeah

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:31:06
Oh, it’s it’s it’s come. You can’t.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:31:09
Yeah, and maybe during the crisis, we were willing to squeeze people.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:31:09
Get it. Both ways.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:31:12
But now we’ve got to get to the reality. So Benji, you you work around the world.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:31:16
You know about informal transportation systems, as well, as formal ones you’re our fellow here at Ci, we appreciate having your perspective.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:31:23
Always give us a sense from us from you, what you think the Covid lessons need to be and then going forward. How would you prioritize investments and policy development over to you Benji

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:31:33
Thank you, thank you for inviting me. I’ll I’ll give you a short short snapshot of the Points I’m gonna make. And then I’ll Go Deeper into it if we have time.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:31:42
I think the last 1,000 days brought to very stark Contrast, who gets to move and who is not allowed to move. Right?

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:31:52
So it’s Mobility and immobility, not just are we getting anywhere, but for the People who can’t move, particularly in a pandemic situation, and that’s really around that the definition, of what is mobility, justice, right which Mimi, Scheller Writes, a lot about I I

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:32:08
Really like what why they said about the transport agencies now have to think multimodal and that’s one of the things.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:32:13
We hope is breaking. I’m not sure if we’ve learned that lesson as Amid says that it’s not just bus train, and private.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:32:21
It’s a whole spectrum of shared mobility, everything from sidewalks, that you can walk on safely, to get to a somewhere that’s less than a Mile Away, to Public transportation in that bike shares and Car shares and and Ride, Hailing that All needs to

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:32:39
Exist and so it’s not just a binary choice, and then active transportation.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:32:45
You said it right now, move very, very quickly. Paul Romer and this is overcoated. Right.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:32:50
That prices is a terrible thing to waste I will add a corollary, especially if you waste it in committee meetings not in public consultation, but in committee meetings what it made very clear was the agencies, could move very fast if you took away all the required permission

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:04
meetings, not the public consultation, but the Committee meetings are just getting it.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:08
Done. So key points, transit is critical to essential workers.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:12
We get saying they’re essential workers and so.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:15
But then we weren’t getting them to places, right? And then how would they get there?

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:19
We don’t know the burdens increase for those with limited transportation options.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:23
Right, you’re you can’t telework right, so that that disparity of people who are allowed to tell a work and people who are not allowed to telework or can’t, and then you couldn’t get there and then very clear in the us one in 4 adults are transportation

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:39
Insecure meaning. If you’re primary mode of transportation to get to work, or wherever you need to go disappear, so that’s bus doesn’t appear or your car breaks, down you are transportation, insecure, you have no other option, and that idea, of

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:33:53
Transportation in security needs to be a critical thing we address and that whole frame of transportation is essential it’s a utility.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:01
If we take that transportation, like electricity. Then someone losing transportation for the day, is a a tragedy that needs to be addressed immediately, not oh, sorry you can get to work yeah, just wait tomorrow, so okay, another terrible thing.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:18
Suvs are killing us in right in the Us, per capita, vmt.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:25
Dot Down or Traffic, Dropdown, but Best of Roles, 43.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:28
1,000. I think it’s a 16%

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:34:33
Let me just look, Benji temporarily. I don’t know if We’re just having an oh, Go ahead and keep Going and I just saw how as cat Make an Appearance Benji go Ahead what happened to SMS

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:35
Bye, are you okay.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:41
Okay, oh suvs are killing, us. Basically. And then if you electrify their heavier, right?

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:47
So that whole idea of 30 miles per hour is safe, with a vehicle.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:54
That’s electric that’s. A you know ha! Half a time heavier is going to be way more dangerous.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:34:58
And so we really really need to solve. you know, electric electrification is never going to be enough onto the good news just a little bit of good news bike, share bounce back rapidly, rout. More rapidly, than any of the other modes I think they’re back on a 21% increase from

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:35:15
2019, so the Bike Shares and this is a company by booming Sales of Electric Bikes, right so that’s really really good.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:35:23
We learned and this is a very recent paper coming out from Toronto, that using the curve for restaurants, right and and patches is like it.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:35:32
Earns, 49,%. More than you would have earned from parking.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:35:35
And so that’s better use of the curve. Better use of public facilities.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:35:39
If we make them for social Uses. And then recently coming out of Mit do USB the slow streets allow us to connect more socially, which is kind of into it the right we just that never but there’s, there’s documented information, that that actually happens to me is lower speed so i’ll stop there

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:36:02
You know, it’s interesting going forward. You know this notion of an essential service this is what I’m appreciative of is this idea about equity, access and essential service.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:36:13
And this idea, that why isn’t transit seen like electricity and you know, I know, there are people there will be people later today that will say, why isn’t housing treated like electricity so I guess the question for each, of you is if you were advising a senior public official in one

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:36:31
Sentence what guidance would you be giving them in terms of their priority for 23

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:36:40
Could you repeat that may

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:36:43
One thing, one thing, what would you say if you could talk to the Prime Minister of Canada, what would you say?

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:36:49
The priority should be in 2,023, in terms of the priorities that you see in urban life, i’ll go to Hawaii, first

[Howaida Hassan] 11:36:58
Yeah, I, I think, just as as I’m Antonian, and what I see it.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:37:03
It would have to be housing, but I think we’ve been talking in this country about housing, and the crisis very specific to Toronto, and Vancouver.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:37:11
I must say, and I think there’s a crisis of housing, housing is kind of on a spectrum as far as I understand it.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:37:19
And so having that sort of that housing with wraparound services for vulnerable populations to me is the priority.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:37:26
I think at this moment at least. Here, that’s right

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:37:28
So it’s a Holistic solution that involves supports and Housing co-located in Ways that would and transit would support that obviously and it’s been Interdisciplinary approach and to you, 1 one thing, to the Prime Minister

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:37:39
So I I’m a transit person, so I’ll take it from the transit.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:37:43
Poll. I would say, keep the public transport running, and remove the stress and the burden from the Transit authorities, that they have to operate or they have to cut service because cutting Service means cutting some of the Essential Services that we’re providing so keep your plan yeah, we need to change them.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:38:00
And this and this expectation that they have to make money, is this this is a weird kind of concept that we’ve somehow built in we don’t expect you know we don’t expect other public services.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:38:04

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:38:11
To make money. But somehow, transit has to. Okay, so that’s yours treat it as an essential service and don’t expect it to make money.

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:38:12

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:38:17
Fancy to you.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:38:18
Treat a card, dependency, as a public health crisis and a climate, threat and create a plan to move the whole country, the whole, population away from Car dependency.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:38:33
And It’s the end of Suvs, Alright, all of you on the line who are watching, go trade that Suv.

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:38:39
And let’s. Just we have to get serious about. This, I think you know we are at this inflection point, you know, where do we stand on these things where do we stand on equity where do we send on climate, where do we stand on all the issues, that are going to be raised today and I just want to thank

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:38:51
You guys for coming on what’s the name of the cat Wida?

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:38:54
Who is this little cuddly one in front of you

[Howaida Hassan] 11:38:56
So I’ll just I’ve been trying to keep her down.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:38:59
But this is cute. She’s a she’s a rescue, cat.

[Howaida Hassan] 11:39:03
She’s a covid cat we took her in actually as a Foster family, and just couldn’t resist her, and decided

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:39:09
Oh, my gosh, and Benji Who’s, your cat.

[Benjamin de la Peña | SUMC] 11:39:11
This is an Eigenvalue or monty

[Mary W Rowe, she/her, CUI/IUC] 11:39:16
And Amid, aren’t you said. You don’t have a cat at your office in Mcgill, really, I mean you

[Ahmed Elgeneidy, Prof.] 11:39:20
Yeah, I don’t have one, so okay.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin

From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

11:19:58 From Alex Tabascio (CUI) To Everyone:
Benjamin de la Peña — CEO, Shared-Use Mobility Center, Chicago Benjie is the CEO of the Shared-Use Mobility Center, a public-interest organization dedicated to achieving equitable, affordable, and environmentally sound mobility across the United States. Benjie chairs the Global Partnership for Informal Transportation and serves on the US Advisory Group of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.
11:20:08 From Alex Tabascio (CUI) To Everyone:
He also founded the boutique consulting firm Agile City Partners and served as Chief of Strategy and Innovation for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) where he led the development of ground-breaking and nationally recognized technology and mobility strategies such as Seattle’s New Mobility Playbook and the draft Transportation Information Infrastructure Plan. Benjie writes and curates Makeshift Mobility, a fortnightly newsletter on innovations in informal transportation. He serves on the boards of Project for Public Spaces, Gehl Institute, and was an advisor to the Roddenberry Prize.
11:20:26 From Alex Tabascio (CUI) To Everyone:
Ahmed El-Geneidy — Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill University, Montreal Ahmed El-Geneidy is a Professor at McGill University’s School of Urban Planning whose research focuses on issues surrounding land-use, measurements of accessibility, and transport planning and behaviours. Ahmed is currently the co-editor in chief of Transport reviews, and serves as an editor for Transportation.  He is currently serving on the board of directors for the regional public transport authority in Montreal Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), and is a member of the scientific editorial board of the  Journal of Transport Geography. Ahmed has served on several committees at the Transportation Research Board  including the Committee on Public Transportation Planning and Development, AP025 and Public Transportation Marketing and Fare Policy, AP030. He also served as the elected chair and board member of the World Society on Transport and Land use Research (WSTLUR) (2018 – 2021).
11:20:39 From Alex Tabascio (CUI) To Everyone:
Howaida Hassan — Director Urban Growth and Open Space, City of Edmonton, Edmonton Howaida Hassan is the Director of Urban Growth and Open Space for the City of Edmonton. Prior to this role, Howaida was the General Supervisor of the City Plan that combines Edmonton’s Municipal Development Plan and Transportation Master Plan, including strategic direction in environmental planning, social planning and economic development. Howaida is interested in how the cross-section of city building, urban mobility and equity shapes our cities. She earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo and is a registered professional engineer.
11:20:49 From Nick Hanson (CUI) To Everyone:
Since April 2020, more than 400 people have appeared as panellists on over 150 CityTalks — joined by close to 50,000 attendees!

CityTalk Urban Champions

11:21:00 From Ushnish Sengupta To Everyone:
Every Canadian city wants to be a Smart City. How do we Indigenize and decolonize Smart Cities? The discourse on Smart Cities seems to be devoid of these essential elements.
11:22:12 From blake To Everyone:
Great question Ushnish!
11:31:08 From Jared Kolb To Everyone:
Important to note related class issues tied up in the telecommuting discussion. While WFH became dominant during the pandemic, that was really only for white collar workers. Blue collar workers continued to largely work on site and diminishing quality of transit service disproportionately impacts them most.
11:31:36 From blake To Everyone:
Well said Jared!
11:36:23 From Zahireen Tarefdar (CUI) To Everyone:
U-M study finds 1 in 4 adults experience transportation insecurity
11:36:29 From Zahireen Tarefdar (CUI) To Everyone:
11:36:35 From Abby S To Everyone:
That’s an amazing statistic about curb lanes. I wish it were out more. Can that stat be repeated please?
11:37:31 From Zahireen Tarefdar (CUI) To Everyone:
Abby – here’s a link!
11:37:34 From Zahireen Tarefdar (CUI) To Everyone:
Toronto’s Curbside Patios Made 49 Times More Money Than the Parking They Replaced
11:38:52 From Nick Hanson (CUI) To Everyone:
Thanks to this session’s panellists:
• Ahmed El-Geneidy—Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill University, Montreal
• Howaida Hassan—Director Urban Growth and Open Space, City of Edmonton, Edmonton
• Benjamin de la Peña—CEO, Shared-Use Mobility Center, Chicago
11:38:59 From Lanrick Bennett To Everyone:
I haven’t come across transportation “insecurity” as an actual concept. Thank you so much for sharing this ZT
11:40:41 From Robert Plitt To Everyone:
great session …!!
11:41:02 From Abby S To Everyone:
Great session. Love the short format.