Troubled by high gas prices? Not to worry, our fearless leader is on it. His staff has come up with a short, easy-to-articulate-and-memorize list of how he is going fix the problem:
- Make sure consumers and taxpayers are treated fairly.
- Promote greater fuel efficiency.
- Boost U.S. gasoline supply.
- Invest aggressively in gasoline alternatives.
Yawn … whatever you say George.
Our personal transportation needs vary hour by hour and day by day. To be really efficient, we would need a garage the size of a barn filled with different vehicles optimized for each driving mission. A trip to the bank five blocks away might be best handled with a bike (or walking). For a trip to the grocery store ten blocks away up a big hill, you could break out the electric-assisted bike and Burley trailer. Longer trips could be done on a scooter. Other trips, requiring highway travel, could be done on a motorcycle. Trips that require hauling one passenger would be done in a two-seat economy car. For more passengers, you would break out your four-seat economy car. You could roll out the SUV for a family ski trip and jump in the pickup truck to haul a load to the recycle center.
Miles per gallon per person (MPGPP) is the same as MPG if you always drive alone. For example, a Seattle metro bus gets atrocious gas mileage. However, on average, each person riding a metro bus is getting about 38 miles per gallon, when you account for all miles driven by all metro busses. If you use your car to haul fellow commuters, you too can brag about your 60 or 90 or so MPGPP.
Thanks to decent weather and a large number of transportation missions that could be handled by my electric bike and trailer, I managed to get 58 miles per gallon last week using what I call my hybrid transportation system (HTS for short). To calculate my MPGPP, I divided the miles put on my electric hybrid bike by the quotient of the miles driven alone in my car, divided by my car’s gas mileage (15 MPG). I now have a leg to stand on when it comes time to boast of my gas mileage, even though I drive an SUV.
I have also greatly enhanced the utility of my SUV with a trailer. These trailers haul half a ton, fold up neatly in the back of your garage, and thanks to China, cost less than $200 at Fred Meyer. Since very few people need an SUV that can pull a trailer, or have space for a bike, car, bike trailer, and car trailer, replacing them all with a car that gets 100+ MPG (like a plug-in electric hybrid) would be just about right.
FWIW, a four-person HOV using a 15-MPG SUV trumps the Seattle metro bus fleet average by about 20 MPGPP — not that its a BFD BTW.
As for the big picture, chronically and intolerably high gas prices will eventually stimulate the free market to give consumers what they want. And if they want high gas mileage, that is what they will get. It is a matter of time. The question is, how much time do we have?
As a side note, I have noticed that the harder-core bikers I pass on the bike trail have a tendency to draft behind my trailer. Yesterday there were three in a row behind me. That’s called sharing the love.