How high will gasoline need to before there is a fundamental change in driving habits? My teammate Tris and I have talked about this several times, and as I recall our guess was $6/gallon.
I’ve noticed some small change already: I now see 5-10 bikes parked outside at work, where last year there were maybe one or two. I know I’ve passed on going to some races this year because of fuel cost.
I’ve also become obsessed with watching the fuel efficiency display in my VW Passat. You can see the ‘instantaneous’ MPG, as well as trip MPG calculation.
What’s interesting about this — and this really shouldn’t be a surprise — is how much you can affect the MPG by how you drive. Let’s take the drive between home and work. If I drive the way most people do — in a hurry, 10 miles over the speed limit, accelerating quickly and braking hard, I get about 28 miles per gallon. Not bad, actually.
But If I drive more consciously, I can get 32-33 MPG. All I need to do is not accelerate so quickly, ease off the gas going downhill then not accelerate so much going up hill, slow down or coast when I know a red light is coming, and just generally drive a bit slower. This all adds maybe 1 or 2 minutes onto a 15-18 minute commute.
I’m pretty sure I can get the MPG higher. Except the other drivers would be even more annoyed than they seem to be now.
Yesterday on the way home a guy flipped me off as I turned onto my street, because I wasn’t going fast enough (maybe 2 miles under the limit) up a small hill on SR 87. Drivers ride my bumper if I’m not going at least 7 miles over the limit, or pass as I approach a light, even though they will have to stop anyway.
Why is it that people feel they shouldn’t ever be delayed or inconvenienced in any way? You can see how we’ve contributed to the current oil situation, and how it will continue. We can’t bear to give up our habit of driving anywhere, anytime, and as fast as possible.
This is an aspect of the same mentality that creates hassles between drivers and cyclists. A bike on the road is an inconvenience — something that slows the manic rush to somewhere. But where are we going?
Gas at $6 a gallon? I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.