What Shapes Urban Mobility Cultures? ? a Comparison of German Cities

What Shapes Urban Mobility Cultures? ? a Comparison of German Cities


T Klinger, J Kenworthy, M Lanzendorf, Goethe-University Frankfurt, DE


Only limited research has been undertaken so far for explaining differences between distinct urban
areas within the same country.


While it is generally acknowledged that mobility patterns are unequally distributed between different
countries (e.g. developed vs. non-developed) or urban regions worldwide (KENWORTHY & LAUBE 1999)
only limited research has been undertaken so far for explaining differences between distinct urban
areas within the same country. Different urban areas within the same country develop within the same
legislative framework. However local authorities usually have the power to pursue their own urban and
transport development strategy within this national framework. Thus, although topographical, historical
or economic conditions are important, our research seeks to determine thecontribution of local
authoritiy policies and other socio-cultural factors for the emerging mobility patterns.
For example, we find different shares of bicycle use in two urban areas comparable in terms of
population size, spatial structure and economic prosperity. These kinds of cultural differences we
understand as the result of complex interactions between local history, transport-related urban
discourses and a specific emergence of related lifestyles, mobility styles and attitudes within the urban
population. We entitle these structures as ?urban mobility cultures?, which lately have been described
as a collection of factors that refer both to symbolic and material aspects of travel, to individual?s travel
behavior and to aggregate transport structures. ?Urban mobility culture? emphasizes the
interdependence of local actors, infrastructure, technologies and transport policy as a dynamic social-
technical system and as a condition for mobility-related forms of practice (DEFFNER et al. 2006).
Therefore, for example, a bicycle-friendly city differs from a more car-oriented city both by the range of
possible and commonly accepted transport policy decisions and by its citizen?s travel behavior. We link
these conceptual findings with the key conclusions of structuration theory developed by Anthony
Giddens (Giddens 1986).
For the empirical analysis of urban mobility cultures we draw in this paper on a sample of 44 German
cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants. We collected secondary data from a variety of sources for
these cities: on the one hand data from public authorities with the ?hard facts? of travel patterns such as
the supply of transport infrastructure, land use data or the average price of a season ticket for public
transport, and on the other hand we included data from other sources (e.g. national travel surveys and
other surveys by stakeholders for life quality assessments or mode quality assessments) to measure
attitudes and preferences (e.g. regarding bicycle use). With the data collection we paid attention to a
fair representation of all modes of transport, including car use, public transport, cycling and walking.
Eventually, with a factor and cluster analysis we obtained groups of German cities with comparable
mobility cultures regarding the attitudes and perceptions of the transport users as well as the objective
characteristics of the particular transport system. We were able to show that not only spatial structures
or economic conditions are key factors for explaining the daily mobility practice within a specific city,
but also the local mobility culture has to be considered which develops as an urban discourse in a
close interaction with local transport, land use and other policies.
Entwicklung eines integrierten Konzepts der Planung, Kommunikation und Implementierung einer
nachhaltigen, multioptionalen Mobilitätskultur. Schlussbericht zum Pojekt ?Nachhaltige Mobilitätskultur?
? 70.0749/04 (FOPS) BMVBS Referat A 32. Frankfurt am Main.
GIDDENS, A. (1986): The constitution of society: outline oft he theory of structuration. University of
California Press, Oakland.
KENWORTHY, J.R. and LAUBE, F.B. (1999) An International Sourcebook of Automobile Dependence in
Cities, 1960-1990. University Press of Colorado, Niwot, Boulder, Colorado.


Association for European Transport