Thursday, July 03, 2008

Free gas!

OK, so I just got home Monday from a 4,650 mile road trip from west of Austin to Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, and back. I never cruised above 62 and sometimes kept it just below 60 for long stretches. Let's figure I squeezed 25 miles per gallon out of that Chrysler mini van. That's 186 gallons of gas. At $4/gallon, that trip cost me $744 in gas alone.

The irony of it all: I took this trip to run a 350 mile bicycle tour for a dozen people, five of whom drove almost the same distance in two midsized sport utes and seven of whom flew round trip. Just think of all that fossil fuel to run an eight-day bike tour. We could never pedal far enough to make up the carbon footprint.

But the bottom line is: every day we don't drive, the gasoline in our own cars is free. And if we keep our driving to, say, just 10 miles a day, then a big yuppie beverage in a styrofoam cup costs more.

Make Independence Day a driveless, independence-from-cars day, and your gas is free.


At 8/23/2008 7:44 AM, Blogger j.miller said...

Hey Lawrence, why not design trips based on Amtrak system accessibility? All the logistic of free bike transport and one-way trip options are there and a fun trip ride as well. gary

Hi Lawrence....along those same lines, have
you costed out the difference between Amtrak
and car travel to reach the start of one of your
tours ? joyce

At 8/23/2008 8:14 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Hey Gary and Joyce, thanks for your comments. We've talked about this. I can offer a good bike tour, but I can't change the culture, and the bike culture, I find, for trips over say 500 miles each way, is as prone to flying as Americans at large. I mention the train, but only a few, such as yourselves, would even consider it. So far. That may change, but it will be a cultural change. I think we may have more carpooling in the future, but few affluent travelers are interested in saving money if it means inconvenience -- or what they, in the short term, perceive to be inconvenience.

At 8/23/2008 12:44 PM, Blogger j.miller said...

Lawrence, that's a republican response! Its time to consider the purchasing power of the un-wealthy and in particular those who will power the shift to alternative modes.

Progressive young travelers are moving from air travel to trains. Amtrak is growing by double digits with a 17% increase all-time record last month. What is lacking is cycling promotion expertise; both in destinations and logistic. Gary

At 8/23/2008 1:14 PM, Blogger j.miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8/23/2008 1:22 PM, Blogger j.miller said...

j.miller said...
The time is ripe to surprise people !! How many folks have you seen driving Prius and
Smart cars....not so many, but the
numbers are growing. And bus and train
rider-ship is up with the % in double digits.
We are shifting our point of reference, and
you are in an influential position to offer
innovative, new options.
Be ahead of the curve or be square ! Joyce

8/23/2008 1:14 PM

At 8/23/2008 1:49 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

I am glad to accommodate train fans, and I do promote them myself. I've taken trains more than most Americans, and I am glad to promote trains, especially if they run fast, on time, and go where we need to go. Trains in the western U.S. rarely go the places bike tours start. If it is a money issue to a tour, then driving wins every time, as in this case, I transported gear and bicycles both ways and was paid to do so, enough to cover the gas costs. I am sure that, to some extent, a shift away from flying is and will continue to occur. If the U.S. were as compact as Europe and were as willing to invest in and subsidize railroad infrastructure, we'd have a better chance of making even more progress.

At 9/10/2008 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're one of those who was accused of driving a sport utility van. Not so!!! Yes, we did drive, but we were in our '01 Prius (with 107K on it now.) Small point, but just wanted to make it.

And I vote yes for the train/bike travel..pat


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