How is the price of gas changing your life?

As the price of gas keeps escalating, I’m starting to see a lot more bikes downtown, including more weird ones like the Xtracycle that I blogged about last week.

bike rack Giant Revive E-Go electric cycle
Left: the crowded bike rack in front of the Goodbye Blue Monday on Tues. morn around 7 am.
Center: my wife’s Giant Revive, a super comfy bike (lumbar support!) for around-town/bike trail riding
Right: an E-Go electric cycle

As for how the price of gas has been changing my life:

  • I’ve been taking the Revive to get to my morning coffeehouse offices in the past week, once I figured out how to easily haul my laptop on it.
  • We’ve gone to two movies in the past 3 weeks, both at Northfield’s Southgate theater instead of driving to the Lakeville 21.

How about you?


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    I just read Tom Friedman’s NY Times column from yesterday titled Truth or Consequences: What would a mythical, truth-telling presidential candidate say about the best energy policy for America?

    No, our mythical candidate would say the long-term answer is to go exactly the other way: guarantee people a high price of gasoline — forever. This candidate would note that $4-a-gallon gasoline is really starting to impact driving behavior and buying behavior in way that $3-a-gallon gas did not.

    May 29, 2008
  2. My wife and I love camping, but with the price of gas we are only planning one trip this year. In past years we have gone about 6-8 times a summer. However, since we live in Nerstrand we might just go camp at the Big Woods State Park more often than we have in the past.

    May 29, 2008
  3. Jerry Bilek said:

    biking, biking, and more biking. biking in Northfield is easy. The town is mostly flat and small. You can get from one end of town to the other in 15 minutes. the Trek Lime is an internally geared 3 speed. No shifting required. And the soho is just a cool bike. has a lot of resources for beginning bikers:

    bicycling is making a difference in Africa

    May 29, 2008
  4. William Siemers said:

    Before we stick our noses to far into the marketplace with mandated 4 dollar gas maybe we could reduce the speed limit back to 55 on highways and interstates.

    May 29, 2008
  5. Bill Ostrem said:

    Nice photos, Griff! I like the Giant Revive. Mike’s Bikes might be able to help you give it more cargo capacity – maybe by modifying the cargo rack and/or adding bags.

    The eGO is cool too. Hadn’t seen that before.

    Eric Johnson is looking into adding electric-assist to his Xtracycle. You pedal it but have extra help on hills or with loads. He mentioned the Stokemonkey engine as one alternative, but it’s now on hold as they work out the kinks:

    I expect we’ll see more innovations in alternative transportation!

    As for me, my habits haven’t changed much since I try to walk and bike as much as I can and work from home.

    May 29, 2008
  6. John George said:

    William- That 55 mph speed limit is a good idea, I think. It would also save some lives, seeing that a 2500 lb. auto has a lot less momentum at 55 that 70. One thing to consider, though, is the efficiency of cars. Back in the late ’70’s, when gas prices went up to $1.50/gal., the federal government mandated the 55 mph. speed limit. This actually affected gas consumption because most of the cars on the road at that time were carbuerated. Now, with the computer controled fuel injection systems, I’m not sure there would be as drastic an effect. I’m sure, though, that on a larger SUV, the less wind resistance at the slower speed should have some effect. Does anyone out there have any solid research on this? I haven’t taken time, but I’ve heard a couple opinions expressed both ways.

    May 29, 2008
  7. John George said:

    Found an interesting graph display of gas consumption vs. speed on this html:

    The info doesn’t give what type of vehicle was tested. I’m sure Jerry’s bike can do better than this, but I’ll stick to my auto in the winter and any storm that comes along.

    May 29, 2008
  8. As a certified tree-hugging, farmland-loving, eco-freak bobo, my habits haven’t changed much. As Jerry said above, Northfield is a great town to bike (or walk) in–it primarily requires a change of mind-set to leave the car in the driveway and bike. When I do drive (which is still fairly often for both work and recreation), mostly out of town, I drive my diesel Jetta granny-style: the lightest of touches on the accelerator and generally the lowest highway/freeway speed I feel safe driving with all the road-rage freaks surrounding me. Same way I’ve driven (with the exception of my teen years) my entire life…

    Yes, 55 saves a LOT of fuel. There’s a good Oak Ridge National Lab transportation document (TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 21) that includes a summary of data from three Federal Highway Administration studies (in 1973, 1984 and 1997; see p. 155 in the linked PDF). The savings were lower in the most recent study with more modern vehicles, but driving 55 still saved 17.1% over driving 70.

    I have informally tested this myself with my 2001 VW Jetta TDI. On a recent road trip I drove at or near 55 mph on highways/freeways for a full tank, and averaged 58 miles per gallon. I normally average about 50 mpg on the freeway driving around 65 to 70.

    So yes, by all means let’s reimpose the 55 mph speed limit nationally. AND let’s stick our noses all the way into the market and impose a rational, national carbon tax on gasoline, diesel fuel (and other fossil fuels: natural gas, propane and ESPECIALLY coal). Our noses have been way into the market for many decades, subsidizing the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. Let’s drop the pretense that we have a free energy market operating in this country and instead tax what we DON’T want (pollution, including global climate change-causing pollution) and subsidize/incentivize what we DO want (mobility, clean energy, etc.).

    May 29, 2008
  9. Jerry Bilek said:

    love the top hat Bruce!

    biking’s not for everyone, but it’s cheap and easy for me. There are plenty of other options. I’m too frugal to give the oil industry a bigger portion of my paycheck.

    biodiesel, car/van pool, telecommute, partial bike commute, switch to a 4 day work week. All will offer some savings. bike one day a week and you save 20% of what you would spend on gas. twice a week and that’s 40%. It feels good, it’s good for your heart and reduces your stress.

    May 29, 2008
  10. John S. Thomas said:

    I am very proud to say that I have been vanpooling to St. Paul since October of 2004.

    I love driving past the truck stop and refinery every day, watching the gas price.

    When I am not riding, I drive a 2004 Dodge Neon, that I got as a result of the destruction of my 2000 Neon in the hailstorm of 2006.

    Since August of 2006, I have put less than 4000 miles on the new Neon. I have been trying to use it less and less. I do not have to fill up all that often, but when I do, it is still almost $40. Thats silly for a Neon. 😎

    Since 2004, our vanpool has grown from a Dodge Caravan, to a Ford passenger van (TERRIBLE MILEAGE!) to a BioDiesel powered, 10 passenger Dodge Sprinter. We currently get a bit over 20 MPG, and considering we are taking 9 vehicles off the road each day, we are saving the equivalent of about 750 miles per day. Using a conservative 20 MPG for some of the smaller cars we all have, that is about 187 GALLONS of fuel saved by the group per week, by not driving ourselves.

    The Neon gets about 30 MPG in town, so I am pleased with that. I am struggling, as I want a scooter, but the cost is prohibitive, considering how little I use the car now. I need to be better about biking and walking, but many times, its the family, time, or the amount of freight (groceries) that I need to move from A to B.

    We do not leave town for shopping at all. If we cannot get it here, we order online. We have attended a couple of shows at the Ordway, but have gone with friends.

    The only limiting factor for us right now is biking downtown. It is dangerous on the street, so we have to plan ahead. When we have groceries, we walk from Just Foods to 7th and Washington, then ride from there. There is no way I will put the family, the bikes, and the groceries in the street at the same time. There is just too much to manage from a safety perspective. It is safer to walk and push.

    We tend to do more trip planning as well, making one loop with all of the errands.

    In other areas, It is changing lives, because everything is a bit more expensive. We tend to shop more “European”, which means more trips, but Emily rides her bike down to get groceries each day.

    We also decided to do a “Stay-cation” over Memorial Day instead of going north. There was no real reason to go, as we have everything we need here. We had a bunch of fun, got things done, and worked in the yard.

    Personally, I am more concerned about how gas prices are impacting the economy, and how the economic slowdown will impact employment. I am pleased that I am in the employ of a company that has been around for 150+ years, and has seen the good and the bad. They have been through the lean times, and I feel somewhat secure there.

    Basically, the gas prices are making us thing twice and evaluate everything. Things are getting tighter, but not horrible yet. But it is enough to start the behaviors to change.

    BTW, Oil futures are down $4.60 today to $126.43.

    The best things you can do is to shop local, eat local, and support local. Take the Bike to the farmers market, or to Just food to purchase locally grown items. Its better for you, better for the environment, and better for your wallet. 😎

    May 29, 2008
  11. I’m quite lazy, but have recently decided that a bike is in order, so I’m shopping. I’m also looking at used scooters, cutting back on errands or at least doing them with more forethought, telling the kids that spontaneous rides to friend’s houses are a thing of the past, much less traveling.

    May 29, 2008
  12. Peter Millin said:

    Between driving my kids to their events and having to commute in to Lakeville I don’t have much room to change my driving habbits.

    I wish our politicians would go away with party bickering and start planning a comprehensive energy policy.
    High gas and food prices hurt everybody.

    September 10, 2008

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