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Driving our way to a solution

I started out wanting to write this great piece talking about the mental roadblocks in changing our dependence on the automobile and the need to focus on alternative forms of transportation, including public transit options. Then John made this post last week and changed where I was going… sort of.

One of the more intriguing arguments out there as $4 comes closer to reality is the level at which the general public can affect change. For some that means getting a hybrid car with better gas mileage, despite the fact that this mileage may only be of benefit in town. For those that plan to use their cars mainly in city, that’s fine. For others, like me, that still like those 8-10 hours excursions, one may be better off with the small car with the conventional engine and average gas mileage compared to its newer cousins. Encouraging development of affordable hybrid vehicles for the masses would be appreciated to allow for more to have this option available to them.

As the average price of gas reaches $3/gallon, it becomes a more important issue. Not a big deal to the rest of the world since they’ve been living with it forever but a HUGE deal to the average U.S. citizen. It will become more of an issue as the price gets approaches $4/gallon. There are those of us that thought that $3 would finally bring about a change in ideals and style of living, leading to a return to a more urban lifestyle for the average person. I heard someone say the other evening on the news that gas is a necessity and they would adjust accordingly. Now I’m afraid of what happens if we don’t start seriously looking at and implementing the alternatives now instead of waiting for it to be over.

The idea of current attempts at creating a more environmentally friendly car takes a jab on the opinion pages of the April 16 New York Times. Jamie Lincoln Kitman’s is not a relatively loud or new commentary, but one that is starting to be looked at by most individuals in the country at this time. (Unfortunately it is also one that you must now also pay to view unless you’re signed up for the Select Time service. I’m not 🙁 ). It is also one that begins to have the public wonder just what can we do to stop this latest crisis. Maybe the question should be “Why is it a crisis to begin with?”

I spoke with a friend the other night that said that it was the American Way to wait until something becomes more of a crisis before dealing with it. Perhaps those cities that chose to deal with the transportation situation years ago as an issue will avert the crisis that will plague some of our other cities. Cities that laid a foundation for development of alternatives, including encouraging urban nodes to exist throughout a city, providing several commercial hubs instead of what is now viewed as the traditional “zone it all downtown and away from the houses” model will most likely be better prepared. Seems like a general problem, but that’s a subject for another post. J

There are two opportunities in upcoming days to learn more about the transportation and the equally important sustainability issues that affect the Birmingham region, both taking place as part of the annual EarthFest celebrations. The first takes place tomorrow at Samford University, the second on Thursday at Safari Cup Coffee. Check out the calendar of events at the Alabama EarthFest website and you should be able to figure out what’s what.

I’d love to be able to go back to my “lazy” way of life in Savannah, consisting of morning commute being a bike ride of about ½ mile, driving the car only when I had to haul things or go out late in the evening. The possibilities are endless here as we seem geared up to become a greenway city. Our ability to roll up our sleeves and help make it a reality may be one of the best tools to use against the rising cost of our luxury. I hope that one day I can ride the bus to my office and then to a meeting without worrying about the current issues that have been exhaustively mentioned before about our current system.

I still don’t think this is what I was aiming for today, but we’ll see what you think.

Check out the early post if you can.


Published inThe Ramblestransit