Cycling / Mobility / Public Spaces / Traffic safety

Welcome Narayan!

In March, I joined Mobycon’s international team in Ottawa as an Integrated Mobility Consultant. I am thrilled to be joining Mobycon, as the company shares my desire to bring together Dutch and North American transportation planning. At Mobycon I will be contributing to a variety of transportation planning initiatives, and specializing in the design of intersections.

I grew up in Thornhill, a northern suburb of Toronto, and my interest in transportation planning began in secondary school when I got a York Region Transit pass, offering me the freedom to travel around independently. I quickly became fascinated by the details of transit operations, such as how the lane configuration at intersections affect how quickly buses could serve bus stops. But once I discovered that I could get to my after-school activities more quickly by bicycle, I started travelling a lot more by bicycle.

Since I was mostly travelling during the afternoon rush hour, cycling proved even faster than driving. It also helped that the loopy suburban street network of my neighbourhood had many pedestrian shortcuts, making distances shorter by bicycle than by car. I should note that in general, the conditions for cycling in Thornhill at the time were very poor, with most trips involving travelling along a busy arterial road without any cycling infrastructure or taking a long detour along residential streets with many stop signs. I found it remarkable that cycling conditions were poor enough that hardly anyone was using the fastest mode of transport.

Near the end of high school, I joined my mother on a trip to the Netherlands, on the suggestion of a Dutch colleague of hers who had heard I was interested in transportation planning. That was certainly a great suggestion as I was blown away by the ease at which cycling and public transport were integrated into the urban fabric. That colleague took me on a bicycle tour of the town of Houten, just outside Utrecht, to show me how the networks for cycling and motor traffic are separated on a route level rather than just a street level.

This inspired me to make a career of transportation planning. I did a Bachelor’s in Urban Planning at the University of Waterloo, during which I had the opportunity to work at LEA Consulting Ltd, the City of Hamilton, the City of Toronto, and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

Narayan sitting on steps of a bridge crossing a canal

Following my graduation, I returned to the TTC to continue my work on the priority system for buses and streetcars (trams), and became increasingly involved in traffic signal programming. I later moved to a Transportation Planning position within the TTC, where I had the privilege of contributing to the design of a wide variety of street reconstruction projects in Toronto, ranging from sidewalk reconstructions to light rail lines.

While I enjoyed working with the TTC to improve public transit in Toronto, I also wanted to see a different perspective on transportation planning than the Toronto way of thinking. I moved to the Netherlands and pursued a Masters in Transport & Planning at the TU Delft, during which I completed an internship and a thesis project with Movensis B.V., a traffic signal design company in Den Haag. After graduating, I worked with them for another year, during which time I got to design and program new traffic signal features such as new methods of prioritizing bicycles. It was very rewarding to not only be learning about the advanced traffic signal practices in the Netherlands but to actually contribute to those advancements as well.

In March 2023, my Dutch visa expired, but I am thrilled to have secured the next best thing to experience in the Netherlands – a position with Mobycon in Canada! I look forward to bringing Dutch-inspired transportation planning to North America and beyond.

If you would like to discuss upcoming projects or opportunities in your community, please connect with me HERE.

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Narayan Donaldson

Integrated Mobility Consultant

“So many of the world’s challenges, from climate change, to public health, to wealth inequality, have the potential to be alleviated through changes to transportation systems. That is what underlies my passion for implementing sustainable, safe and equitable transportation solutions.”

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