Ironically, I drove less when gas was cheaper. I would ride my bike to work at least three times per week, and my oldest daughter was in daycare on the campus where my wife works, so there was no need to drive her to camp or school.
But times have changed.
As much as I dread having to drive so much, itâ€™s very difficult for me to get around it. Yes I often wear my Cars-R-Coffins tee, have a few One Less Car stickers placed in strategic locations and generally pontificate on the evil of combustion engines. Am I a hypocrite? Perhaps. But the harsh reality is that like most people in this country, I rely on my combustion-driven vehicle way too much. Riding my bicycle everywhere is just not practical for our family right now.
But you know what? Iâ€™m still glad that gas is getting so expensive in this country. And I hope it even gets a little more costly. I realize that statement isnâ€™t going to make me a lot of friends, but allow me to explain.
While my wife and I do drive fairly often, we make a lot of decisions to reduce the actual amount we drive, and weâ€™ve been doing that for years. Regardless of the cost of gasoline, people should make decisions that allow them to be more efficient. Those decisions range from the car company executives in Detroit committing to make more fuel-efficient cars, and to you and I combining trips to cut down how much we have to drive.
When I was in college, there was a dude who lived in my house one summer that would drive two blocks to go to the bar. Two blocks! The cost of gas is an absolute hardship on a lot of people that canâ€™t get around driving a lot, and for people whoâ€™s very livelihood depends on driving. And that absolutely sucks! But Iâ€™m very happy that the high cost of gas is finally snapping people out of the idiocy of choosing to drive two blocks to go to the goddamn bar!
The high cost of gas is finallyâ€¦and quicklyâ€¦forcing people to question what they do, making folks have conversations about conserving and generally nudging people into making decisions that will make major parts of their lives more efficient. And, of course, people are riding their bicycles and taking mass-transit a lot more.
And thatâ€™s good stuff.
Just yesterday, in another cruel twist of irony in my life, as I drove the eight miles back to my house after dropping off my daughter at camp, I counted twelve people riding bicycles! Old ladies on old womenâ€™s three speeds, a bunch people wearing backpacks spinning quickly on their Target-bought bikes, a few people in roadie kits and one or two people on their weekend-only high end mountain bikes. This was all on a Thursday morning in suburban Philadelphia. Last summer, I wouldnâ€™t have seen anyone on a bike on that road.
As much as I dream about it, weâ€™re never going to reach a car-free utopia in this country. But if the high-cost of gas forces us to be more efficient, ride more bicycles, create tighter communities and breath easierâ€¦then Iâ€™m stoked.