georgeGeorge Liu graduated from the Master in Environmental Studies (Planning) at York University in 2014.

George is a transportation planner, avid cyclist, and professional musician. Prior entering the MES Planning program at York University, he completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science at the University of Toronto, where he discovered the speed, practicality and reliability of using his bicycle to commute to class. In search of new extra-curricular skills, George began working as a mechanic at Bikechain, a DIY bicycle repair shop on the U of T campus, and later served as treasurer of Bikechain. Pursuing his interest in sports and music, George competed with the U of T Varsity Blues mountain bike team and successfully auditioned for a bass trombone chair with the University of Toronto Wind Ensemble.

After completing his Bachelor degree, George was attracted to MES Planning program because of the structural flexibility and breadth of courses offered to students. During his time as an MES student, George has served as the provincial Student Delegate for the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and chair of OPPI’s Student Liaison Committee, comprising of 14 student leaders from Ontario’s planning schools. To fulfill the MES Planning program’s field experience requirement, George completed a summer internship at Smart Commute – North Toronto, Vaughan and was later hired to performed traffic data collection for BA Consulting Group.

As George progressed through his studies at FES, he became aware of the success of many European countries in promoting cycling not as a recreational activity as it is popular in North America, but instead as a cheap, efficient, and practical mode of transportation. George wanted to experience for himself the world-famous cycling infrastructure in Europe, and in pursuit of this goal, he took a month to ride his bicycle from Rome to Amsterdam, pedaling his way through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.

This eye-opening trip inspired George to pursue his MES Major Project titled “Bike Host: Building mobility and community through cycling mentorship.” For this project, he worked with the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank to integrate a research component to CultureLink’s existing Bike Host bicycle mentorship program for new Canadians. The research component included a combination of surveys, trip calendars, and trip logs, and allowed researchers to rigorously measure the transportation behaviour change of Bike Host participants over the summer of 2014. Using this data and participants’ self-reported individual, familial, and peer attitudes towards cycling, researchers are able to assess the relationship between social attitudes and behaviour change as it applies to cycling for transportation.

Following his passion in bicycles and active transportation, George is currently working with the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation to pilot a Community Based Social Marketing program for active transportation within the Region of Peel. George is also Research Manager at the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, where he currently manages a team of student researchers on a SSHRC funded collaborative research project. This SSHRC project is a partnership between leading professors at the University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University and McGill University, with the aim of identifying suitable areas for piloting cycling behaviour change programming in suburbs and small towns across Canada.

Parallel to his career as a transportation planner, George Liu is a musician in the Canadian Forces reserves, and bass trombonist with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Band. As a musician, George has toured across numerous cities across Canada from Windsor, ON to Halifax, NS. During his summers with the Ceremonial Guard, George has participated in the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, ON, and he has performed for dignitaries, royalty, and the general public.

George Liu is the recipient of the Mary Lou Tanner 2014 Scholarship, intended to recognize a student member who is making an important contribution in the field of planning for healthy communities and active transportation—including the design of trails, roads and neighbourhoods that serve and encourage pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.

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Articles by George can be found in the July/August editions of the 2013 and 2014 Ontario Planning Journal.