With early voting underway in Texas, Austin Mayor Steve Adler is urging voters to pass "Prop 1" -- a $720 million “Smart Corridor” bond to overhaul the city’s most congested and dangerous roads.
He’s also hoping to change the "commute culture" in Austin. What if people didn’t have to work 9-5 anymore? What if the entire city changed the way we think of work schedules and work travel?
That's the idea behind the mayor's goal to have businesses take the "Austin Don't Rush" pledge. He and other experts spoke to community leaders Tuesday morning about the challenge. The Austin Chamber of Commerce believes traffic is the top threat to the city's prosperity. Leaders believe we can no longer "build" our way out of the problem. We all contribute to the problem and must all be part of the solution.
That's where the Mobility Challenge comes in. Adler challenged 20 businesses to reduce the number of employees who commute by 20 percent. He’s now challenging more businesses to make the change by 2020.
"Changes and custom and practice and behavior really come down to what you guys as employers do,” said Adler. “It's the conversation that you have with employees and the peer encouragement that comes with being able to do these kinds of things where people work."
The mayor cited data that showed 75 percent of cars during rush hour have only one person in them. Experts predict if 20 percent of vehicles were removed from rush hour, the city would see free traffic flow.
Business can stagger hours, offer work from home days, or develop ride sharing or public transportation incentives. Along with the businesses who've already taken the challenge, Tuesday morning, several new businesses pledged to change their commute culture.
When speaking about other cities that have experienced major overhauls due to traffic, Adler told the crowd one thing happened before they were successful.
“Every city comes to a tipping point," he said. "Let you be that tipping point.”