Windy, warm and $5 gas

Our local weatherpersons forecasted big rain for today, but the Jet Stream blew it all south to Southern California again. Instead, we have wind from the north gusting up to 60 MPH. Since I’m going south for the evening commute, maybe it’s a good time to beat some Strava records. Too bad I brought my heavy, fendered singlespeed clunker today.

One of the big news story today is John Hofmeister’s prediction for $5 gasoline in 2012. I don’t know if it will hit $5 in the United States next year, but it’s not too hard to see gas will be a story again in 2011 like it was in 2008 when American prices broached $4. Nobody’s really talked about it, but our gas prices have been at record highs for the winter season, when gas prices normally drop significantly. Combine that with low inventories and dropping production worldwide, and we’re gonna get hit hard when the summer ‘driving season’ and mandatory reformulated gas begins next June.

My cycling friends say they’re glad they bike, but the price of gas affects much more than personal transportation costs. When gas prices go up, the economy slows, food prices go up, transit fares rise, transit service is cut, and people lose jobs. We’ll see another double to triple digit increase in bicycling next year, but a lot of that increase will be tempered by a another big wave of layoffs.

A bipartisan congressional commission recommended a 15 cent increase in the Federal gas tax so those high prices will benefit the public at large instead of multinational oil corporations. Incoming House transportation committee chair John Mica (R-FL) — who received $60,000 in contributions this year from the oil lobby — has pledged to shoot down any proposed increases in the national gas tax.

6 Comments

  • Andy
    December 29, 2010 - 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Not sure where I read it (so maybe I’m embellishing or making up the details), but there was a great story about someone that rode something some 200 miles one day. He had a plan to wait for a windy day in a particular direction, and just rode with a 40mph tail wind all day before taking a train back home. I think he said he was cruising 20-30mph the whole day with little effort. This might be your chance!

  • December 29, 2010 - 9:30 pm | Permalink

    The price of gas is already much higher than $5 per gallon, we just don’t pay it all at the pump. If you take out all of the subsidies and add in the external costs, you get at least $5 per gallon, to more than $15 per gallon (depending on who is doing the calculations).

    During the 2008 presidential campaigns (when gas prices were around $4 per gallon) I enjoyed watching the candidates dance around this problem. I would have loved to have heard one of them propose eliminating the subsidies coupled with a commensurate tax cut to all Americans. Of course, none of them where that insane. It would be great for cycling and alternative energy though.

  • December 29, 2010 - 9:30 pm | Permalink

    The price of gas is already much higher than $5 per gallon, we just don’t pay it all at the pump. If you take out all of the subsidies and add in the external costs, you get at least $5 per gallon, to more than $15 per gallon (depending on who is doing the calculations).

    During the 2008 presidential campaigns (when gas prices were around $4 per gallon) I enjoyed watching the candidates dance around this problem. I would have loved to have heard one of them propose eliminating the subsidies coupled with a commensurate tax cut to all Americans. Of course, none of them where that insane. It would be great for cycling and alternative energy though.

  • Andy
    December 29, 2010 - 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Cycling would certainly struggle too though… as the price of everything increases, cycling infrastructure and public transit funding will be cut early on. As road quality deteriorates, road bikes will no longer be usable because roads will be re-paved with chunkier asphalt or chipseal. The price of tubes and tires will go up just the same too.

  • December 30, 2010 - 12:06 am | Permalink

    A couple of weeks ago I heard a snippet of somebody talking about the price of fuel and how it was just blipping higher specifically because of Canadian refineries that had cut back, but that that was temporary, so things would be all hunky-dory in a few weeks.
    We are dependent on oil. When it costs more, it hurts, even if I am not going to the gas pump. Everything costs more, especially the stuff we need (food, water).

  • December 31, 2010 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Good writeup. Many times people don’t think of the other effects that gas prices have on the economy and many other effects this has on their jobs, and well being.

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