scooterlife - photog's blog

Motorcycles. Scooters. Wheelchairs. Tape. Whatever rolls.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Gas prices up again

Regular just went up to $2.35 here at one station in Raleigh, around the $2.20 range near home.

One friend of mine theorized that noone will change their driving habits until it goes well over $3/gal, maybe closer to $5/gal. While that may be true for his friends that share the same tax bracket, I think the folks who are closer to the low end of the pay scale are going to feel the pinch and it's going to leave a nasty bruise. Gas, groceries, day care...the necessities are always a struggle for some families. Those that may just cut back on a few $8.50 movie tickets are in better shape than the ones that have to trade meds for gas, or groceries for day care, when they can't afford both.

While I'd love to tout scooters as the answer, I don't think tighter-budgeted families can just drop $1500-$2100 for a new scooter or even $700 for a workable used one. The money for a new Zuma would buy a servicable used car that could get kids to daycare, dad to work, mom to the grocery store. Even if they could get a scoot, not everyone is the situation where work, home, and groceries are in a 5 mile radius accessed by <45mph roads.

And while I've got no problem jumping on a public transit bus, I don't think it's within the mindset of most folks who haven't had to use a bus since they rode a big yellow one in junior high.

So as gas prices rise, one group won't feel the pinch as much but has the money for alternative transportation...and another group will feel the burn yet will have to rely on public transportation (if it's accessible) or simply cut out more of an already stressed budget.

Long-term, I think one of our biggest issues is how we've grown into a nation of commuters, dependent upon high-speed roadways to get anywhere, versus living in communities where work, play, groceries, and other necessities are within walking/biking/scootering distance. I haven't researched how planners are looking at this from a long-term perspective driven by oil prices--I've only heard it discussed from a holistic approach to create more compact communities and as such are less dependent on automobiles for families to function well.

It was only two bucks to fill up the scoot tank tonight, and I'm thankful that it cost about 30 cents to run to the post office, insurance company, DMV, and grocery store.

About the only thing I can do besides take care of my household is model behavior that might make alternative transportation attractive to others. The fuel I save is a drop in the bucket; it's negated by any one of the cars and trucks in our row of homes. But if one person--just one--decides that a scoot or a Prius or a bicycle might be the better tool for the job than their Escalade, then something might take hold.

OPEC hasn't sent me an e-mail asking me to come back to the fold and put the Trooper back on the road and the Zip in the storage shed. Oil's still pumping out of the middle east, SUV's are selling like crazy, and there's no letup in traffic on the Raleigh beltline.

It's gonna take more than a full-scale attack on our wallets via gas prices to get people to rethink transportation, because in doing so, they have to rethink the way their lives are structured--everything from how and where and why they work to how they live. That sort of change doesn't happen from external prodding--it's one of those things that happens from a decision made at a gut level, an evolution, a major shift in how a generation looks at a roadmap that details what a house looks like, what success looks like, that you trade in a car at 35K miles, that you live in the suburbs and commute to the technology center via the superslab. Anything more extreme than buying a Prius or Civic is akin to deciding to live "off the grid", with the grid being the Matrix of status quo. Personally, after doing it for years, I don't think I could go back to devoting 2 or more hours of my life every day to commuting--sitting in stop-and-go traffic on I40. But to avoid giving 10 or more unpaid hours each week to someone other than family, it takes are huge restructuring of almost everything in your life; like dominoes, changing one element will change others.

The revolution will not have a CVT.

Not for most, anyway.

So far, it's working fine for me, though. I wonder how many others there are out there like me.