That’s the price I saw this morning for regular unleaded at the Shell gas station on Alma Street in Palo Alto, CA. Granted, that’s always the most expensive station in town, but it’s still a dramatic jump from the $3.20 or so they had last week. Near my home, the nearest gas stations were at $3.19/gallon last night.
Locally, I see more bike commuters than ever although the weather has chilled, the days are shorter, and the California rainy season has started. Many are people I’ve never seen before on shiny new bikes, and the ones I talk with tell me they’ve only recently started bike commuting. They started because of high gas prices, but they continue because they discover they actually enjoy riding in to work.
Increased bicycle use for transportation is great to see, but high gas prices are still a concern for me. Higher gas prices mean I pay more for everything. Economic growth comes from growth in energy use. I’m not too hopeful that we’ll effectively transfer our energy use from transportation to other, more constructive purposes. Our transition to a low energy economy will be very painful for everybody. We’re already seeing pain in Africa and some Pacific Rim countries, where gasoline that once was used to run irrigation pumps, farm tractors, fishing boats and village generators is now shipped to the United States because we’re able to pay the higher price for the fuel. Even North Dakota’s wheat harvest was threatened because of diesel shortages there.
Many of my anti-car friends rejoice at the prospect of high gasoline prices, but I see pain in all of our futures. I know the readers of Cyclelicious are doing your parts to forestall and maybe even ease that pain. You’re doing the right thing by riding your bikes and encouraging others by your example.