Spring 2020 - GEOG 324 D100

Geography of Transportation (4)

Class Number: 4247

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    HCC 2510, Vancouver

  • Instructor:

    Leanne Roderick
    Office Hours: www.calendly.com/leanne_roderick
  • Prerequisites:

    At least 45 units, including GEOG 100.



An empirical and theoretical examination of the geographical aspects of transportation systems.


The Spring 2020 offering of this course focuses on the mobilities of people, goods, and services in cities.  Its starting point is that the urban form – particularly the spatial imprint of a city’s transport system – confers a level of spatial arrangement and path dependency in cities that have political, social, and cultural implications.  This course critically explores cities and mobilities, especially insofar as transportation is understood via an examination of historical and contemporary cases (from Vancouver and around the world) related to people and how they navigate, mobilize, and experience the city.  Planned weekly topics include: walking and cycling; automobility and parking; public transit (subways, rail, bus); transportation disruption (ride-sharing); tactical urbanism; and, social equity and transportation.  Experiential field exercises and expert guest lectures will form an integral part of the course in support of our understanding of the geography of transportation.  Assignments include an ethnographic observation of a transportation experience; a travel patterns memo; and, the group-creation of a transport game.  

This course will be comprised of a lot of active and experiential  learning.  Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course, as are students with diverse accessibility needs.  Both SFU and the instructor are committed to accessibility.  Please contact the instructor as soon as possible should you have any accessibility concerns about the course, field exercises, or assignments.

Course Guidelines and Policies  

Field Activities: there are no mandatory supplementary course fees since it assumed that every student has a U-Pass BC. There will be multiple activities in this course; including  group and individual walking and observation exercises in downtown Vancouver. Be aware that during these field activities there may be periods of crossing roads with busy traffic, and the need to stop and observe transportation systems in both busy and isolated locations. Appropriate clothing and footwear must be worn. Further details regarding safety will be discussed prior to each field activity.  

Students must at all times remain compliant with all student responsibilities, regulations, and policies as outlined in the current Academic Calendar, as well as relevant regulations and policies as outlined in the SFU Policy Gazette. This includes, but is not limited to, expected student conduct and the maintenance of appropriate medical insurance coverage. If you find yourself in any sort of emergency situation, please call 911.


By the end of the course, successful students will be able to insightfully reflect upon, analyze, and communicate:

·         The relational, social, and spatial aspects of urban transportation
·         The regional and international context within which trends towards transportation infrastructure and investments are occurring
·         The complex politics and economics of developing and planning transportation initiatives in cities
·         Locating the self within travel patterns, modes, and complex economic geographies


  • Participation (individual grade) 15%
  • Travel field notes/Mapping the self (individual grade) 20%
  • Transportation Report (individual grade) 35%
  • Urban Transportation Design Game (10% game, 20% report) 30%


Participation (15%, individual grade): preparation, attendance, and participation in class tutorials.  This grade will be partially accessed on your participation in online discussions and reflections that take place on Canvas following field exercises.            

Travel field notes/Mapping the self (20%, individual grade):  Using a reflexive ethnographic methodology, you will prepare a ‘thick description’ and mapping of your travel experiences over the course of 3 days.  You will observe and describe your experience of transportation in the city, including: what modes do you use?  What trips do you make?  What emotions come up, or do not appear?  What can you observe about comfort level, social frictions, etc.?  More details will be provided.   

Transportation Report (35%, individual grade):  The major individual written assignment is a case study of transportation.  The case report is to be divided into two components. Part I will provide a description and assessment of the case (it is recommended that you choose an aspect of transportation/mobility from the travel field notes assignment).  Part II of the assignment requires you to - drawing on ideas, theories, and approaches discussed in class – make recommendations for improving mobility, access, or other particular issues and challenges established in Part I.  Papers are to be 1500 words in length, excluding bibliography.  Maps and images should be incorporated. 

Urban Transportation Design Game (10% game, 20% report): With your group, you will develop a transport planning game (board game, epistemic game, card game, role playing game, electronic or video game, etc.).  You will need to begin preparing for this project early in the semester.  In the final week of class, you will present your game and have the opportunity to try playing the games created by the other groups.  Your group will be responsible for submitting a 1000-word report that describes what aspect of the course material and/or field study trips motivated your choice of game and mechanics, your methodology, and a critical reflection of how this assignment helped you to achieve the learning outcomes of the course.

Game Inspiration:
·         Ticket to Ride
·         Mini Metro
·         Brand New Subway (https://www.6sqft.com/new-interactive-subway-game-lets-you-build-the-transit-system-of-your-dreams/),
·         Land Science https://sites.google.com/site/composingvideogames/example-games/my-gaming-lesson-plans/madison-2200,
·         Urbanology (http://www.bmwguggenheimlab.org/urbanologyonline)



Sadik-Khan, J. and S. Solomonow.  2016.  Streetfight: Handbook for the Urban Revolution. New York: Penguin.  (ISBN-10: 0143128973 / ISBN-13: 978-0143128977)

All other readings will be on reserve via the library. Most readings are online journal articles, but there are also selected book chapters available at Belzberg Library or via online access. In accordance with Canadian copyright law and best practices regarding fair dealing in educational settings, please use copies of copyrighted material distributed in class only for the purposes of this class and do not reproduce them in any way.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html