How much does culture matter in mobility?

How much is mobility a matter of culture?

How much does culture matter in mobility?
The wife and kid ride ahead of me on our way downtown on S. 5th.

In the 6-7 years I've thought seriously about mobility, I've constantly wrestled with how to get people in a car-centric city like Austin to shift to other modes of transportation.

The most obvious solution, and the one policymakers have the greatest influence over, is infrastructure and land use. If we want fewer people to drive, then we need to shift from our 70-year practice of designing infrastructure that prioritizes cars over all other modes. And of course we need land use policies that allow housing and commerce to be built near those other modes.

One of the most annoying arguments you encounter in mobility debates here, often from those who know nothing about transportation policy, is that there's nothing you can do to get people here to bike or take transit because that's just not their culture. You can't separate a Texan from his truck!

This is bullshit. The fact that most New Yorkers don't drive and most Austinites do is quite easily explained by transportation economics: people opt for the most convenient option. In New York, that's the subway. Here, it's a personal vehicle. Plus, surveys show that Austinites in particular desire alternatives to driving; they just sense that they aren't available. In most cases, they are right.

And yet...culture isn't irrelevant either. It's not the only thing, but it's definitely a thing.