Personal transportation http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6176/all en-US Better cars are not the answer http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/better-cars-are-not-the-answer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cars-in-apartment-lot.jpg" alt="Cars in apartment lot" title="Cars in apartment lot" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="81" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Wise Bread is an optimistic place. There are some people who can't see the congruence between optimism and frugality. I'm talking about the sort of people who point to our progress from <a href="http://www.deldot.gov/static/projects/archaeology/wynn_wilson_lewis/intersite_inter_arch.shtml">360 square foot houses</a> to <a href="http://www.nahb.org/publication_details.aspx?publicationID=2028">2400 square foot houses</a> and say that, if your vision of the future doesn't have us all in 16,000 square foot houses pretty soon now, it's a pessimistic one. This article, though, isn't about houses. It's about cars.</p> <p>Posted as part of <a href="http://blogactionday.org/">blog action day</a>.</p> <p>Why do we care about cars? Because they use energy. Energy which, for the past hundred years has been fantastically cheap, but which over the next hundred years will become much, much more expensive. Energy use which has always produced pollution, but which we can see ever more clearly is a threat not only to our way of life, but our very lives.</p> <h2>Do cars matter?</h2> <p>In the United States, 28.5% of our energy consumption goes for transportation, and most of that (about two-thirds) goes to move people from where they are to where they want to be--mostly in cars and so-called light trucks (a legal category of vehicle designed for light cargo hauling but used for personal transportation because of unwise tax and regulatory policies). (Data from the U.S. Department of Energy <a href="http://cta.ornl.gov/data/index.shtml">Transportation Energy Data Book</a>.)</p> <p>Hand-in-hand with its fraction of energy consumption, transportation contributes a comparable share to carbon emissions as well (33%, according to the U.S. <a href="http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html">Energy Information Administration</a>).</p> <p>So, transportation is a big deal, and personal transportation (i.e. cars and things we use like cars) is the biggest chunk of transportation.</p> <h2>Better cars?</h2> <p>A lot of people look at that and say, &quot;Ah ha! What we need are much better cars! Cars that use less fuel, and cars that use different fuels--renewable fuels!&quot; Those people are wrong. What we need--and what we're going to have whether we like it or not--is much less driving.</p> <p>Of course, we will get better cars. Cars will become more efficient and there'll be new fuels and new technologies--hybrid, hydrogen, and plug-in electric cars; cars burning ethanol, bio-diesel, coal-to-liquid, and other even more exotic fuels. But none of that will preserve our car-driving way of life. There are many reasons. Two big ones are:</p> <ol> <li>We can't solve the climate change problems with a few little--or even big--tweaks to the way we run our cars. It's going to take <a href="http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12775-zero-emissions-needed-to-avert-dangerous-warming.html">major changes</a>.</li> <li>The energy needed to run around in your own car is going to get too expensive. The total world quantity of crude oil produced has been flat for about three years, despite record high prices. If these prices can't draw more fuel out of the ground, farms, and laboratories.... Well, then we'll get higher prices.</li> </ol> <p>Cars could be made a lot more efficient, simply by making them smaller and lighter. That'll happen automatically, once energy gets a lot more expensive. The average car got <a href="http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_23.html">22.4 mpg in 2004</a> (the average light truck considerably less). Among cars currently being sold in the U.S. fuel efficiency tops out at about <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/reviews/list/top10/119083/article.html">60 mpg</a>. Much better is possible--we'll see 120 mpg in the short term, as gasoline prices continue to rise. Making the shift as higher and higher prices force it, though is a slow, painful way to change, with the bulk of the pain falling on poor people, because the higher prices hit them first, and because they don't have the capital to invest in fuel-efficient cars.</p> <p>Because there are so many things that will help--new car technology and new fuel technology--and so many good ideas and bits of good news being reported--we see a perverse result: People to look at the long list and imagine that surely one (or a few) of these ideas will pan out, and that our car culture will go on in the future much the same as it has in the past. The ideas <em>will</em> pan out (or many of them will), but it won't be enough to preserve our car-driving way of life. The climate change problems are too pressing and the energy supplies are no longer growing--which means that prices will have to rise to balance the still-growing demand.</p> <h2>What then?</h2> <p>We face a world with less driving.</p> <p>If we accept that soon enough, there's a lot we can do--restore the failing railroad infrastructure, for one thing. Quit wasting money on airports and widening roads and putting up multi-level parking structures. Those aren't things that an individual can have much impact on (although at a local level it's possible, and worth trying).</p> <p>As an individual, start arranging your life so you don't have to drive so much. Walk more. Bicycle more. Take the bus more. If you live too far from work, think about moving, or changing jobs, or both.</p> <p>In the short term, also do all the things other articles on saving fuel recommend: Make sure your tire pressure is right. Combine trips. Drive conservatively. If you need a new car, buy a fuel efficient one. But none of that's going to be enough.</p> <p>Soon--sooner than you think, unless you've been paying attention to the oil production figures--you're going to have to drive less. Plan for that. Arrange your life now, so that driving less won't be a burden.</p> <p>The sooner you do it, the better off you'll be. It will give you more time to work out the kinks in your personal strategy for driving less. Also, it's frugal to drive less and it's incredibly frugal to live car-free. The money you're no longer spending to buy, fuel, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/auto-insurance">insure</a>, and maintain a car can give you a huge boost to your standard of living and your savings.</p> <h2>Why so optimistic?</h2> <p>This may not sound like an optimistic vision of the future. It is, though.</p> <p>I look at the future and see cars becoming less common and less important. They'll become smaller and more fuel-efficient as well, but the dominate trend will be fewer of them on the road making fewer trips.</p> <p>I view that change with great optimism. I see a future where communities are walkable--where housing, jobs, and shopping are close together. I see a future where people bicycle to work and to run errands. I see a future where light rail links bedroom communities with city centers and industrial centers, so that people who don't want to live in cities can still work in them and so that heavy industries that people don't want next door can still exist and still have workers. I see a future where high-speed rail links my town with the nearby cities--Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis.</p> <p>I'm optimistic, because that's the future where I want to live.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling">Frugal Transport--bicycling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-my-clunker-is-smarter-than-a-hybrid">7 Ways My Clunker Is Smarter Than a Hybrid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-you-drive-one-of-the-10-smallest-cars-ever-made">Would You Drive One of the 10 Smallest Cars Ever Made?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-earn-extra-money-with-your-car">7 Ways to Earn Extra Money With Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living bicycling car hybrid cars Personal transportation transport Mon, 15 Oct 2007 13:53:46 +0000 Philip Brewer 1288 at http://www.wisebread.com Frugal Transport--bicycling http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frugal-transport-bicycling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bike-on-bike-trail.jpg" alt="biking it" title="biking it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="153" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Three years ago I started bicycling to work.</p> <p>It was a gradual thing. It took extra planning to ride--there were issues with clothing, issues with carrying stuff on the bike. I'd usually only ride if I thought of it the night before and the weather forecast looked good.</p> <p>Wanting the exercise was what got me started. It takes me about 25 minutes to bicycle from my apartment to the office, versus 15 minutes to drive. So, an extra 20 minutes spent commuting gets me 50 minutes of aerobic exercise.</p> <p>There are other ways to get exercise, though, and the bicycling wouldn't have persisted if it hadn't had other things going for it:</p> <ul> <li><strong>It bookends the work day psychologically.</strong> The ride in to work gets me warmed up and ready to be productive. The time, motion, and effort of the ride home helps me unwind and leave the office behind.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>It's frugal.</strong> You can get a perfectly good bike from a bike store for just a few hundred dollars, and a few tens of dollars a year will keep it in tip-top shape essentially forever. (That's if you pay a bike store to do the maintenance. If you know about bikes and are handy with tools, you can probably cut both those amounts by an order of magnitude by finding a bike at a garage sale and fixing it up yourself.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>It's gentle on the planet.</strong> I've read that there is no more efficient form of transportation than a bicycle. I've never done the math myself, so I can't swear that it beats using a mule to haul a barge down a canal, but that and sailing ships are the only possible contenders.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>It lets me get my smug on.</strong> Actually, a tendency to be smug about stuff like this is a character flaw of mine. I try to resist. But when gasoline prices spiked up in the summer of 2005, I'd ride past gas stations and look at those poor schlubs pumping $3 gas into their SUVs and be enormously reinforced in thinking that bicycling was unquestionably the way to go.</li> </ul> <p>That smugness had another result, though. As the summer of 2005 drew to a close, and I realized that I was about to go back to being one of those poor schlubs (albeit pumping $3 gas into a Honda Civic and not an SUV), I couldn't quite bring myself to do it. On the other hand, I also couldn't quite bring myself to ride my bike in the winter's cold and dark. I ended up riding the bus in the winter. That turned out to work really well. I'd had no idea the local mass transit district was as good as it is. (I'll have more to say about this in the future. Our local transit district is doing <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/high-tech-for-mass-transit">really cool stuff with technology</a>.)</p> <p>My wife and I still have our car, and we use it when that's the handiest thing to do (which turns out not to be very often). The bus is handy for a lot of trips. Walking is the obvious choice when we just need to go somewhere and do something. But bicycling is always my first choice: it's faster, easier, more efficient, and more fun.</p> <p>And that last is really the key. All those other reasons--the exercise and frugality and stuff--they're all true, but even the smugness wouldn't have kept me riding day in and day out. The reason I bicycle is because it's fun.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer">Better cars are not the answer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-you-drive-one-of-the-10-smallest-cars-ever-made">Would You Drive One of the 10 Smallest Cars Ever Made?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-my-clunker-is-smarter-than-a-hybrid">7 Ways My Clunker Is Smarter Than a Hybrid</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living bicycling Personal transportation Sat, 14 Jul 2007 00:10:31 +0000 Philip Brewer 837 at http://www.wisebread.com The Toyota I-Unit; would you drive it? http://www.wisebread.com/the-toyota-i-unit-would-you-drive-it <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/iunit.jpg" alt="iunit" title="iunit" width="287" height="383" /> </p> <p>We&#39;ve been talking a lot about gas prices recently. That&#39;s no surprise considering we&#39;re paying almost three times more for gas than we were six years ago. The problems of oil refinery shortages, devaluation of the dollar and higher costs of extracting oil will not go away. So, what do we do?</p> <p>Well, a few years ago Toyota launched something called the I-Unit at an Expo 2005 in Japan. At the time, I&#39;m sure it was considered about as silly an idea as the Segway. But not any more. After all, most of us drive alone most of the time. We&#39;re always complaining about gas prices. We hate wasting money (especially if &quot;we&quot; are readers of this site). So, is the I-Unit really such a silly idea?</p> <p><strong>Personal Mobility - a concept, or impending reality?</strong></p> <p>The I-Unit is a cross between a motorcycle and an open-wheeled racer. Based on a leaf design, it uses some state-of-the-art technology to morph from an upright shape at low-speed to a lower, sleeker shape at top-speed (although I&#39;ve searched everywhere and cannot find out what these speeds actually are). Here&#39;s a video that explains a little more...</p> <p><embed src="http://www.metacafe.com/fplayer/651280/toyota_one_person_unit.swf" width="400" height="345" wmode="transparent" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed><br /><font size = 1><a href="http://www.metacafe.com/watch/651280/toyota_one_person_unit/">Toyota One Person Unit</a> - <a href='http://www.metacafe.com/'>Free videos are just a click away</a></font> <p>One of the most impressive features of the I-Unit, other than saving money, space and energy, is the built-in safety. I-Units can communicate with each other, and have accident-avoidance capability. Meaning however drunk or out of control one driver is, he can&#39;t pile into another I-Unit driver. </p> <p>So, the big question still remains. Would you drive it? I aimed that question at myself and unfortunately, I said no...for now. Until I can be sure that it&#39;s safe on the road against a huge SUV, or significantly better with gas mileage without compromising speed, then I&#39;d have to wait. At least until more folks had adopted them and they were a more common feature on the roadways.</p> <p>I will be watching Toyota&#39;s I-Unit closely. It&#39;s been two years since the launch of the concept vehicle at EXPO 2005, and I&#39;m sure these cars are more in need in the big cities than ever before. It looks like all those funky, tiny cars in futuristic movies weren&#39;t so far from the mark after all.</p> <p><em>Photo by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/kamome/">Kamome</a></em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-toyota-i-unit-would-you-drive-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-on-gas-free-ebook">Save money on gas + free ebook</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-wisebread-helped-me-get-45mpg-out-of-my-28mpg-car">How Wisebread helped me get 45mpg out of my 28mpg car.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-reasons-why-i-love-public-transportation">Five Reasons Why I Love Public Transportation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-decide-if-its-a-fund-worthy-emergency">8 Ways to Decide if It&#039;s a &quot;Fund-Worthy&quot; Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-purchases-you-should-make-by-30-40-and-50">Big Purchases You Should Make by 30, 40, and 50</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance automotive Cars gas mileage gas prices I-Unit Personal transportation save money Toyota Sat, 16 Jun 2007 05:02:47 +0000 Paul Michael 743 at http://www.wisebread.com