I've been reading a book that can be described as a "doom and gloom tome," but one that has certainly altered my driving habits. The book is Kevin Phillps' "American Theoracy" and after one chapter I can say that I felt like I wanted to walk to work instead of driving. Because of our addiction not only to oil but to vehicles that drink gasoline like some Flintstone animal tool, we consume 2 out of every 3 barrels imported on driving on our roads and freeways. That's why nowadays I tend to lock in the cruise control at 70mph and let the car chug along while I steer and groove on tunes on my CD player. I'm still filling up every week, but it's more like every 7 days instead of every 5.
Sure, we're conditioned to think that driving is our birthright and that it's a convenient form of transportation. And, in a way, it really is. The birth of the car, cheap gasoline, interstates, car commercials constantly equating driving with personal freedom, and blah, blah blah, has certainly contributed to the underpinnings of that birthright. And, to be honest, who doesn't love the fact that you have a personal mode of transportation that is waiting for you 24/7. You can jump in your car whenever you feel like it and you never have to worry about a bus or train schedule. Nice!
But one look at the daily headlines in the paper, and you know that the price of this convenience comes at a steep price. But does this mean we have to be like Britain and Europe and use trains and buses to get around? I don't see it happening. We love our cars because they signal to the world that we are adults who aren't dependent on others to take us where we want to go. Even in depictions of the future in films like Minority Report, individual modes of transportation are prominently featured– with the coolest non-automated car reserved for the hero who is trying to get is freedom back.
I'm not sure what the price-point for a gallon of gas will be to alter our driving behaviors, but according to Mark Morford at the SF Chronicle, 10 buck a gallon might do it!