Cycling / Mobility / Placemaking

Welcome Okka!

I recently started at Mobycon as an Integrated Mobility Consultant, and I am very excited to be able to learn and contribute to better mobility outcomes. I have always been interested in using transportation and design as tools to empower people and achieve social equity within our towns and cities. At Mobycon, I will be using my professional experience in Australia along with my travels throughout the world to contribute to better urban mobility outcomes in Canada and North America.

As a child, my fondest memories were growing up in a small village in the Lesotho Highlands, South Africa, where I would walk or ride my bicycle to school every day (as did the other children in the village). I suspect that might be the reason I’ve always valued my independence and mobility and why I value streets as places for people.

After moving from Lesotho, I lived predominantly in suburbs in the UK and Australia, where private vehicles dominated the streets and most of my trips were made by either car or bus. Fast forward several years, I began cycling again as an adult to rehabilitate a knee injury after a nasty fall in the rain. Through my cycling adventures in Australia, I begin to appreciate the simple efficiency of the cycle in getting to/from places— but also the dangers of cycling on streets where I’m made to feel like a guest. In the end, I completed my Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) from the University of Queensland, moving on to a career in transportation. In between all of this, I also end up travelling to places such as India, Nepal, Spain, Portugal, France and, unsurprisingly the Netherlands, which opened my eyes to mobility beyond cars.

Working as a consultant in Sydney, I began to understand the interrelationships between urban built forms, land use, travel demand, and transport infrastructure. I was fortunate enough to work with a Dutch traffic engineer in Sydney who successfully implemented Dutch cycling solutions throughout Sydney, and who taught me about prioritizing road safety for all users, especially pedestrians and cyclists. At the same time, I was also privileged to work with an international cast of planners that provided examples of doing things differently and diverging from old standards through their experiences in Germany, the UK, France, Brazil, New Zealand and Iran.

My next move came with working for the NSW Government to deliver strategic plans using the Movement and Place Framework, which broadened my knowledge of urban design and placemaking. Through this, I began to reconcile road space allocation, designing streets and roads with intent rather than relying on standards, understanding movement types (to/from, through and within), and placemaking principles. It was also during this time that I begin to understand intersectional themes like social equity through transport opportunity, community severance, private vehicle reliance through design, and delivering 30-minute cities. Unintentionally, I was provided a hands-on education in governance, delivery processes and organisational structuring which has helped me understand who key decision makers in our urban spaces.

Towards the end of last year, I moved Canada for personal reasons. While this is a huge change in my environment (still understanding how to function when snowfall is measured in feet), I have no doubt that the principle of designing pragmatic solutions for our most vulnerable users and will continue to be key to delivering sustainable transportation outcomes. With this in mind, I’m excited to have joined Mobycon, and I look forward to combining my experiences and outlook with Dutch practices for placemaking and cycling to serve our clients and communities in North America.

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

Okka Maw

“Looking at the evolution of towns and cities through the ages, we know that transit, walking and cycling are the most efficient and sustainable ways of moving people. As someone that loves to see cities grow to their full potential, I’m passionate about ensuring we tailor our movement for people.”

Integrated Mobility Consultant