Poll: How do TOD readers transport themselves?

Over time, I think we've gotten a sense of how TOD readers feel about various transportation issues. Now I've put together a poll to find out what the reality is: how prevalent is driving (and how many miles a day do people drive)? How many people have a hybrid? How many people use a bike as their predominant form of transportation? What about subways, light rails, or even walking?

Update [2006-5-15 16:25:5 by Yankee]: I usually read Treehugger everyday, but I must have missed their post from the other day called "Have You Reduced Your Dependence on Cars?" 90 Treehuggers left comments, and a lot of their sentiments seem pretty similar to the ones seen here.

Here are some guidelines for the poll:

  1. Pick the single best answer for a typical day. A typical day probably means going to work, running errands, visiting friends, etc. Whatever is typical for you, pool together your activities in a day when answering the poll.

  2. If more than one of these applies to you (e.g. you drive your car to the train station), please pick the mode of transportation that is used to go the furthest distance.

Unfortunately, the number of items I can put in the poll is limited, so if none of these choices apply to you, please pick "other" and explain in the comments.
today hybrid car, but for the past 3 days feet.

i think my trip allocation might average 50% car, 40% bike, 10% feet, but i'm semi-retired which makes all that a lot easier.  feet/bike take time.

The killer for all of us is the supply chain which feeds us, clothes us, etc.

WalMart pioneered the big box store, cross palleting etc.  The food and goods sold in that WalMart undoubtedly come from out of state if not outside the US of A.  Any big food or hard goods retailer is little different.

When we had a petrol strike here (blockade of fuel depots) in the UK, the food stores were empty within 3 days.  A measure of how little inventory is actually left within the system.

All of these goods burn up a lot of energy getting to us.

you make me feel good about putting on my frayed-at-the-cuff jeans.  anyone notice that while frays were cool, say at a high point in the 60's, our tollerance his declined?

(on the plus side, i understand that a lot of cast-offs do get used in africa & etc. ... if people take them to good will and not the landfill ... of course the landfill is carbon incarceration ... environmental accounting is sooo difficult.)

Thats interesting valuethinker. I live in Manchester and had no problems with empty shops/shelves during the petrol strike.

I drive a diesel but work from home and drive much less than 10 miles/day on average. I have also very recently found a local co-operative which supplies biodiesel.

I agree that personal transportation is not the only, or even main, issue.  Here in Vermont heating the house uses more fuel than driving the car, for most people.

Moreover, Peak Oil is not an energy crisis, it is a cultural crisis: yes we could, technically speaking, live with somewhat less fuel, but we've built an economy that collapses if it cannot grow.

That said, my personal transport is arranged on a daily basis, as conditions require.  I think we'll need to be flexible as energy gets scarce.  Often I carpool, sometimes ride an electrically-assisted bike (18 non-flat miles roundtrip to work), sometimes drive on my own, rarely ride a bus or ride a regular bicycle.  No biking in the winter here!

After driving 1.1 million miles from 1984 to 2001 I quit driving. Now I bike everywhere including riding for a living. After driving 75k miles a year or more the 10-16,000 I do each year by bike nowadays is way better. I wish I had done this 20 years ago. I thought it would be a huge sacrifice, its actually been quite easy.
75k miles driving per year?  16k miles biking per year?  My God, who's chasing you?  : ) You might try slowing down and reading Thoreau's Walden for a change... :  )


Well I used to drive for a living(courier), now I do the same only by bike. Something isnt chasing me, Im chasing it.
I should have guessed.  I was a courier myself (car), while at University, and my little brother was a bike courier for a time.  Now your mileage makes sense.  : )
Thought about entering the Tour De France (US Postal Team if that is still going)?

Speaking of which, that starts in about 6 - 8 weeks time.

Im 40 years old(as of yesterday), so I have like zero shot at qualifying, and on top of that the odds of making to the elite pro cycling level these days are about the same as winning a spot on an NBA basketball team. If I had wanted to be a pro bike racer I would have had to have started working on that 20 years ago.
I've been biking for 35 years now.  About a decated ago I calculated that I'd pedaled over a hundred thousand miles over a period of about 15 years.  Haven't biked a whole lot since then.  

I love riding bikes.  I hate cars.  

One of my big questions about the peak oil debate is, how many doomers and POs are sick of cars, like I am?  How much is our willingness to pay attention to this problem connected to our wish that cars would go away?

i like cars, i just think many of them are out of sync with the times.

it's funny, i can walk 2 miles to the store and pick out 2 or 3 of the cars i see as cool, and worthy of being on the road ;-), snob that i am, i only want to get rid of the rest ...

I'd like to see the SUVs disappear. As far as cars and bikes, I'd have to see a major proliferation of bikes and reduction of cars before I'd feel safe riding on the streets. As fuel prices rise more, I could get that wish.

I'll have to move closer to work to use a bike to get there. Otherwise, it's driving as the best if most expensive and wasteful way to get there.

OK, I confess that is why I started to follow peak oil. I don't hate cars completely--I believe they have a place in the transportation mix. But that place should be much, much smaller than it it.  I resent a society that tells me I MUST maintain a car, it's my social obligation.  As I cyclist, I am embittered by the attitude of motorists that I am an inferior lifeform.

So I can't help welcoming each rise in gas prices which brings us a little closer to the day when fringe eccentrics like me are promoted to mainstream, respectable-citizen status.  Unfortunately, petroleum scarcity will bring many other effects than just a reduction in the dominance of the automobile.  Most of these effects will be bad.

i guess i'm lucky to be in a fairly bike-friendly town.  that makes a big difference.

we could all move to Davis, California, i guess.  i remember reading that they became the first US city to score "platinum-level" endorsement (link)

That's great news.  My daughter is attending UC Davis next term. The bad news is the precarious state of the levees, but I don't know how much that threatens Davis.
funny, their city page sees fit to tell us:

"Davis flood hazards generally consist of shallow sheet flooding from surface water runoff in large rainstorms."


I too live in a "cycling friendly" town. Cyclists are numerous and influential.  But this very fact leads to tension and hostility.  Motorists feel challenged, but they know that they are still the large majority -- that in sheer numerical terms, they are the "normal" ones.
sounds like a different kind of "friendly."
I'm a rare poster here, although I follow TOD fairly regularly, but I couldn't resist this one because I live in Davis.

This certainly is a bike-friendly town (I've ridden mine to work at the university for many years now). It helps that this is a fairly small, and very flat, university town. The large number of students on bikes helps our numbers enormously, although a recent survey of bicycling in Davis showed that bike ridership among students is down somewhat compared to the students of yesteryear.

The town has grown a lot in recent years and has become more of a bedroom community for people who work elsewhere. Not too much daily biking among this crowd. The university is the largest employer, but real estate prices in Davis are so stratospheric that only a minority of university staff can afford to live in the town that they work in.

I was in a car accident 23 years ago and my insurance went flying up.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me as I have been riding a bike as my main transportation ever since.  I own a mini van  using it for major shopping trips and family vacations.  Here is a site for those interested in cutting back on fuel.


I also ran across a new electric scooter


A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.  Henry Thoreau.

If you are into bicycles, feast thine eyes on this: http://www.workcycles.nl/workbike/index.html
thanks, i really like that site.
I am going crazy, I ordered one of these - the Transport Super - theoretically a big truck will drop it at my door in the next couple days. About 2 months after I paid for it. Amsterdam is too far away! But it should be a lot of fun, plus my little part to advertise the possibility of biking as a practical alternative.

I've been commuting by foot for the past maybe 6 years. The bike will just let me run errands faster and save some time.

I've been seeing a lot more bikes on the street lately - I live out in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. First time I saw gas over $3.00 out here was just today, #3.09. We're having very warm weather too, so that probably helps to bring the bikes out. But in the ten years I've lived here, I don't think I've ever seen so many bikes on the street - people looking like they have someplace to go. We do get a lot of pleasure riders too, folks all dolled up in lycra on %4000 bikes.  

I work from home, buy nearly all my goods from local shops that are less than 5 min walk away.  What I can't, I buy off the web.  Friends, family and social events are also within walking distance.  I also have several lovely river, forest and hill top walks on my doorstep, even a waterfall only a couple of miles away.

...mind you my partner comutes to work an hour away... at least her car does 50mpg though.

That has always struck me as the hardest part of living sustainably; when you are in a family that is supporting more than one career.


  • Drive more than 10 miles per day on a 250cc motorcycle @ 65 mpg

  • Drive less than 10 miles per day on a bicycle
I sometimes bicycle or ride the subway or bus if I need to, but my commute is on foot. My office building is 175 paces away from my apartment building here in Downtown Manhattan.
C'mon Interloafer, you may walk to walk to your day job, but you should really show everyone what you drive around for your moonlighting gig during the prom season

I mean, that's just not sustainable, is it?

Ironically, if you fill this sleek vehicle with people, the person-miles per gallon should be considerably better than an standard Hummer.

This is what it looks like when Hummers go green ...

of course those personal mile-gallons were for a totally unnecessary purpose.  Commuting to work is one thing.  Around town entertainment is another.

Total waste.

My wife and I passed one of these outside Bath, Maine this past week-end. No doubt carrying the local Prom Queen and her entourage.
That's true.  I did happen to "omit" that particular piece of information.  I've got one of those bad boys parked downstairs, ready to go at any moment.  :-)
I drive about 110 km round trip every working day, in a small diesel van that gets about 7.7 litres / 100 km (that's about 30 mpg).

I have worked from home, I have ridden a bike to work, now I'm in the joe-average worst case, and I don't like it.

I use a combination system.  Distance to work is more than 10 miles.  About 2-3 days per week I ride a bus (an express service was started last August) and the other days, I carpool (I have a small SUV and my other carpooler has a hybrid).  This has drastically cut my gasoline usage compared with driving by myself or with a limited 2-3 day carpool.
About 100 kilometers/day in a small 7 liter/100 km (33 mpg) car running on a 50% E85 50% petrol blend. Would say fossil fuel use is probably better than a hybrid doing the same distance, especially since it's mostly non congested highway.

I have a job which I'm resonably confident to be able to keep even when many others lose theirs. Nevertheless, right now, a long commute is a luxury I can afford. And when TSHTF, there are buses anyway. (For a while.)

I live in Chicago and ride a bike. I encourage others to get
a bike, and get into the habit of riding. Many insist that they
will just take public transit when things go sour. The problem
with that idea is that public transit capacity isn't designed
to handle a large percentage of the population. When things go
bad everyone is going to try the same thing: ride the bus,
train, subway, etc. Good luck. Even those riding public trans
now will suffer the same fate.

Get a bike and get used to riding it to work, school, stores, etc.
You need time to adjust to the way bicycles work in the city
on streets with backpacks, panniers, etc. Most people will not
be able to just get any old bike and make the transition without
taking the time to learn how to make a go of it.

Think about the seasons, and the weather. Are you equipped
to ride year round? Do you know what to wear, etc?

Are you really prepared, or are you just complaining here on TOD?

Are you really prepared, or are you just complaining here on TOD?


I can't realistically bike 100 kilometers per day and still expect to get any work done. Hence the car (today the fuel cost is lower than the bus fare), and when the opposite is true, I'll get on the bus instead. When more people ride the bus, the bus company will be able to afford more buses.

When not commuting, I walk to get around. When walking is really too far >10 kilometers or if I'm in a hurry, I bike. Only when I need to haul large stuff somewhere, I use the car. My vacations are spent walking in the mountains. I get to the mountains by train.

Where do you see me complaining?

"Complaining" isn't addressed to you specifically. I should have been more explicit. Lot's of talk on TOD, but little action.
I live in Chicago too. As far as public transit, those Pace buses have their deterrent factor to their use. So, a bike is preferable to using that part of the transit system. Before I got my Kia, I was considering a motorcycle to get to work with becuse the Pace system is so shoddy. By transit, I would take a CTA bus, the L, and that evil Pace bus. Reverse the procedure to get home. (I work by the airport)

What's wrong with Pace?

  1. long waits
  2. rude drivers (making Ralph Cramdon look like Dale Carnagie)
  3. Poor climate control on the buses
  4. Uncomfortable seats (where you bounce around like you're riding in a storm chasing plane in Katrina)
  5. too few seats
  6. buses so drafty you'd think they bought them at WalMart.

Pace, in short, makes the CTA look like a class act! Now, THAT'S a dubious accomplishment!
Work is 4.5 miles away. I work the night shift and ride my bike every night but Fridays, Saturdays, and rainy nights. I have to cross several busy intersections and there is too much traffic for comfort on the nights that students are partying.

Shops, food, libraries, etc. are all within biking distance.

My drive is a 2001 toyota echo, rated at 34/41 city/hwy mpg but I do better than that with it because I drive like a granny, mostly coasting and well below the speed limit. My goal this year is on keeping the car miles below 1000 for this year.It was about as uncar a car as I could get. I really hate cars inversely proportional to their efficiency and proportional to their emissions but more especially, I suppose, the drivers who drive them!

We are car-less, but where we are we have an excellent bus system, with buses every half hour most of the day and every 5 to 15 minutes during the rush hour. Wife teaches English at a private high school; it is a 30 km commute that costs about 55 cents each way.

I stay home and manage the small B&B we are renting. We buy organic milk from a farm 2kms down the road, organic coffee (grown at a farm about 10kms from us but sold in town), and organic eggs from another 200m towards town. Most of our produce as well as trout and talapia is produced locally.

Organic farming is still new here because certification is an expensive process. A lot of farmers use organic methods but don't advertise it as such.

I walk or take the bus everywhere, except sometimes if I have a major load of groceries I will take a cab home. Grocery store is a bit more than 1km from here. Looking to purchase a bicycle with a cart in the next month or two.

Business is slow, so I have lots of time to read and study TOD.

That is just sick...I'm green as an unripe organic tomato (with envy).
I drive to work on Monday, leave the car, then take the folding bike back and forth until Friday. If it is pouring rain tonight, I'll take the car home and leave the bike. I only shop at stores along my commute. I rarely go anywhere on weekday evenings.

I work in MD but spend weekends in PA. There is no train service, and the bus route goes so far out of the way that it takes 14 hours, so on weekends I drive about 120 miles between cities. Rather than driving slow on the highways, I recently used mapquest to find a more direct route on smaller roads. It takes about a half-hour longer, but keeps me at 45 to 55 mph the whole way. It's a more interesting drive, and the gas is cheaper, too.

BTW, the mapquest 'no highways-shortest distance' route can get ridiculous, taking you up and down curvy, unmarked mountain roads with names like T1006. The 'no highways-shortest time' route is a bit easier to follow.

BTW, in many places there's a Ride of Silence - a tribute to cyclists killed by colliding with automobiles - this Wednesday at 7 PM.


And Friday is Bike to Work day in DC and Baltimore:


2004 Toyota Corolla for me.  I drive 7 miles to a park and ride, then take the bus into the centre of Ann Arbor and walk another 500 yards (ish) to work.

On days where my wife is working longer hours, we drive together and she drops me off at the bus stop.  We're lucky that she works 200 yards from the park and ride stop.

I started doing this a couple of weeks ago.  I've cut my gas consumption way down, and I'm $50/month better off now I've given up my parking pass.

I generally spend about 15 minutes more each way on my commute.  Not too shabby, really.

Of course, I still have lots of coworkers and friends who work close to me and who drive right past that park and ride every day!

Oh, and my mpg has gone from 32ish to 40ish.  Driving 60 on I94 and M14 certainly makes some folks angry!
Living in Germany, almost everything I need is in walking or biking distance. If it's not in walking or biking distance, a bus stop or the main train station is.

My longest work commute is 2 days a week with a bike 30 km or so round trip.

However, my wife drives an hour to and from work in our turbodiesel Golf every few days (not every day, she carpools).

I have to admit, as much as I am interested about Peak Oil and environmental issues I don't do any of this because of these concerns. I just do it because:

  1. everything I need is nearby;
  2. it's less expensive;
  3. it's healthier;
  4. finding parking is a bitch.

Which I guess shows you that with the right incentives even people not motivated by the larger issues can get into a lower-energy habit if the environment is right.

As I usually say: living without a car (or as much without as possible) is the more natural way.
It's been my belief for some time that the role of government is to set up the system in such a way that people's self interest is aligned with the broader societal interest.

Unfortunately many governments these days, including my own, do not seem to be doing their job (ie, governing).

I too currently live in Germany - Hamburg to be specific and find that despite the fact that Germans love to drive, it is not really necessary.

Long distances are always cheaper by car and inevitably mire free, but they are clearly more work.  Sitting on a train I can get a lot of work or reading done - some EC trains even have electrical outlets for the laptops...

In around the city I use a mixture of public transit, cycling and walking.  When the night is long I'll even splash for a cab.  Driving simply isn't necessary.  SOme people will buy a car so they can move heavy objects.  I bought a raincoat and a great trailer.  German neighbourhoods are built for terminal traffic, not through traffic.  That means taht drivers are usually forced to tak ethe long way around, while cyclists can cut through on all sorts of paths. Like little parking and store size limits this works on the demand side to limit local car travel.

But don't be fooled, Germans love driving.

My transportation is tri-modal.  One day a week I have to manage child care drop-off before work, and so drive 30 miles round-trip to work after pulling a child trailer 5 miles with a bike.

Three days a week I either bicycle the whole 30 miles (takes about an hour each way), OR take light-rail for 20 miles and cycle another 15 miles round trip, or drive the 30 miles.  Depends on weather, obviously sunny days are bike days and icy/snowy days are driving days.  Rainy days are bike/rail days, unless extremely high winds present (some days the wind is so strong that I can go UP the I-205 bridge faster than I can go down it in the afternoon).

Fridays are a crazy hodge-podge: always 10 miles of kid-hauling with bike and trailer, then either drive to work 30 miles, or drive down to the farm 150 miles round trip.

I put about 3000 miles per year on the bicycle, and about 5000 miles per year on my truck at 26 mpg or so.  My wife works closer to home, and is able to bike to work 100% of the time.  Our family's transportation patterns have always been like this, even before knowledge of impending Peak Oil.

I have a long car commute. I have the opposite "problem" (in quotes because I respond to it the way I do voluntarily) that many have of working in the city core but living in the suburban periphery where land is cheaper. I enjoy living in the city core and being able to walk to get groceries, etc, but I am an engineer and most of such jobs are in the suburban periphery. If my job were in the city, I would already be car free. Lord knows besides the pragmatic aspects it would make life simpler, cheaper, and less stressful. I am working on some changes to bring that about, though...
My data from 2005:

BUS - work commute : 10000 Km

Bike - weekend warrior : 8000 Km

Car - Groceries and hollidays : 4500 Km

This doesn't include several annual driving trips of 200-1,100 miles each to visit family and friends. We put more miles on the car in these trips than the "average" days of the year combined. Car is a '99 Corolla 5-speed that gets 40 mpg in summer and 35 mpg in winter.
Thanks for putting a polling system in place. That's great!

I drive a '93 Pathfinder. However it is paid for and I have liability insurnace only on it. For me to switch to a more gas conservative car would be rather expensive, not only would I have the cost of buying something but if I have a loan on it I have to have full coverage insurance. So it's cheaper for me to keep this.

I did have about a 5 mile commute to work. But our office just relocated so not it is about 12 miles and there is no easy or safe route for me to ride my bike. The only other trip I really make outside of work is to the grocery store on Saturday and to church on Sunday.

I work from home and don't own a car, though I sometimes borrow one to go to my girlfriend's (5 minutes away) or run errands.

My girlfriend owns a car, but it gets around 40 mpg.

I am unemployed so I travel exactly zero miles to work a day.  I try and run as many errands via bike (and with better weather, this is possible.) My bank, the bakery, and the grocery store are all close by either by foot or bike.

My last job I was one of the 3.2% of commuters that did not drive.  I biked or took the bus.  Come to think of it, over the last ten years of employment I drove to work alone just over 2 years.  I rode in a car pool for an additional 9 mos.  The rest of the time I rode the bus/train (depending where I lived)or walked.

Sorry to hear that your move to Oregon did not pan out. Hopefully you will find some way to keep your family economically viable. Wish you all the best. Keep us posted via your blog.
As an American expat, I'm happy to now live in a country where mass transportation is an accepted and economically necessary way of life.  Panama.  Still I keep a Toyota diesel pickup for the heavy hauling (25+ MPG) and a 225cc Yamaha (60+ MPG) for most of my getting around.  The town where I live in western Panama is very self-sufficient in regards to the necessities of life and I believe will do well when the shit hits the fan.

My congratulations to all of you who have found a better and more sustainable way to live!!

My commute is relatively a sort (for living in the 'burbs) 5 or so miles.  But somehow I manage to put a consistant 15k on the BMW 328 each year.  Mileage is only 22 mpg, and it requires premium. : (  It's only got a couple of years left in it (180k+), and my next car will be 40 mpg+.  Likely a diesel, maybe a diesel hybrid if they have them my then...
This might be slightly off topic (I did take the poll) but I thought it was interesting because it concerns the type of vehicles still in demand:



Global warming and imminent oil production peaking - we all know how serious these things are, right?  Thats why we are here reading TOD everyday.

Personally, I cannot bring myself to start a car.  I bike 20 miles daily to get to and from work.    

If the Earth is dying, how can anyone say, for example: I live too far from my office?  How stupid does that sound when faced with the possibility of a lifeless planet (the only planet we know to even have life in the first place)???

Turn the cars off people.   One human being's comfort is completely meaningless, get over yourself.  (not necessarily directed at TOD readers)


I don't mean this as an attack at your comment, but lets consider me as an example. If I were to bike to and from work, it would be one hour each way (12miles). Add to that the weather here in Nebraska, its always very windy, in the summer it is hot and humid and in the winter cold and icy or it is rainy. So I show up to work either wet, frostbit or sweaty. And I have to wear nice clothes at work each day.Add to that there is not a real safe route to get to work. Public transport would probably take me longer than an hour each way.

So I am sorry, I don't really see how your comment of telling people to just get over it, to give up thier comfort as being realistic. Unfortunetly my own short sited behavior and desire to take the safer more comfortable form of transport is going to win out. As much as I don't like to admit it, I am more willing to get in my vehicle and drive to work in comfort and in just a few minutes than to go through the hassle of not.

I use myself as an example of the millions of people out there that face the same problem.

put a change of cloths in a backpack or somthing.
I don't try for speed on the way in. I get in an hour before everyone else, so I can wait about half an hour to cool down before putting on my dress shirt. There's even a dribble shower in my present office, and the Y is only half a mile further.

Is there a sports club or YMCA near your office? In some office cultures it is not that uncommon for employees to workout beforehand or over lunch hour.

Thanks for the replies.

In my old office I did work out everyday at lunch since there was a gym and shower available.

Yes I could overcome the obstacles. I could take a change of clothes,  manage with them being wrinkled after putting them in a backpack, smelling sweaty for the rest of the day, find a safe route to work, adjust to spending a couple hours a day on my commute, etc. etc.

And yes I know there is a problem, and it is all for the better that we adjust, it is better for saving oil and better for the environment.

But I also know I shouldn't have that slice of cake for dessert, or I know I should get up and exercise in the morning instead of hitting the alarm clock. The smokers knows they shouldn't have that next cig. The heroin junkie knows they shouldn't have that next hit. But we still do. Why? Because we as humans will choose the immediate and the comfort over the discipline and dis-comfort when we have the chance to.

My only point was that at the individual level, being one in 6 billion, I know my individual contributions have no effect. Especially when the things we are talking about (global warming) are measured in decades not in minutes or hours like my Monday morning. So we face a prisoners diliema. Why will I change my habits for the 'worse' with no immediate payback when everyone else doesn't?

I think instead of telling people just to go change, 'to get over it', people need to see the problem, know it effects them in the short term and provide an alternative.

I'm partly playing the devils advocate here since yes I agree with that there are problems but don't see the alternative choice I am willing to take or be the early adopter on. Again it is a prisoners dilema, people won't change until forced to.

I should add that when I lived in Denver, I intentionally lived near downtown where I could walk to work each day or on bad weather days take the bus. I did enjoy it. But once again it was a readily available alternative to driving. One that I don't really have now.
  I appreciate your frankness.  We are all doing what we can, and sometimes have to wait for an opening before we can make certain changes.  I still drive many small errands here in little Portland, Maine, since I'm more anxious about the driving culture here than I was in NYC.  (On reflection, a recent visit reminded me how much the Pedestrians have a lot of clout in NY.. I'm walkin' here!)  That's not just 'comfort', that little girl expects me to come home each night.

  I've got a half-built solar hot-air collector in the basement which I'm trying to get done, right next to 50 watts of PV, which are waiting on the Grounding Rod to get extracted and re-pounded into some soil where the first rock is below 7' under..  I also just took a quote for Solar Hot water, and with luck, my wife and I will be able to dive in and take advantage of Maine's new rebate and the federal tax credit!

Time may be getting tight, but you still have to take careful aim before you shoot.


I used to bike just about everywhere... put as many miles on my bike as I did on my car. But my hips are fried and I'm stuck with my ICE. Twenty miles round trip to work but I time the lights and often manage 30 mpg or better in my two liter, manual Audi A4. But I must confess that I burn through the curves like a flaming gerbil.

BTW, been a reader here for about a year and really do appreciate the level-headed and informative discussions.


I'll tell you what is realistic: ecosystem collapse!
But people complain that they get too sweaty riding a bike?
If that doesn't spell doom - I dont know what does.

I'm not throwing around blame, mind you - But LETS BE REAL.
The Earth really is dying, that doess't carry nearly enough wieght in these discussions...we are talking a one of a kind planet - not a replaceable object - you know?

Dude, chill.  The earth will survive without us, damaged but not dead.  Here, have a cookie.
An Earth without people on it is not something to chill about.
I do about 20 miles a day in my car, but if I had to do the same stuff by bike I'd have to almost double that mileage, to drop stuf off at home. And I'd have a real hard time with the more profitable stuff I deal in, boxes of rackmount handles, s-100 vintage computers (they made those in two sizes, heavy and heavier) and so on.

Sadly, in my kind of business a car really helps.

If I just worked a regular job, I'd not have a car at all.

Shit!  That article is depressing!

Mind you, it's a fair bet that there were some Detroit advertising dollars behind that one.  It almost reads like a commercial.

For a working schlump, I'm incredibly lucky: Most days I walk to work. It's seven-tenths of a mile, half of it through a park along a relatively pleasant stream, or half a mile if I choose the white-knuckle dash across a busy street. (It does get the blood flowing!)

Unfortunately, my "typical" day - driving fewer than 10 miles in a hybrid car - is misleadingly low. I still drive about 750 miles a month. That's due to occasional chunks of mileage for my job, and more-or-less monthly visits to my wife's elderly parents, who live 100 miles away.

Living in the center bourrough "Mitte" of Berlin provides various ways for transportation. In winter months I prefer the subway (two lines close to my home), the light railway (further 2 lines) and the tramline (again 2 lines close by). When it's warm just walking or riding a bike is of course first choice. Then it is nice to watch all the people sitting in the cafes enjoying the summer time in the big city....

Especially in the weekends, there is a very good night service with subways going all 15 minutes between 1 and 5 a.m. It is strange, but the lines then are sometimes more crowded than during commuting rush hours.... (OK this is probably not representative for the rest of Germany).

Placing bicycling and walking in the same category is regretable.  These are two very different modes, and cycling is suitable to far longer commutes than walking. This is a popular category, but we have no idea how it is broken down.
I agree, but I ran out of slots in the poll since I was also interested in how far people drive. Maybe I'll set up another poll sometime.
I drive 55 miles a week, usually in one big shopping trip. ~3000 a year in a 15 year old Honda. I have a bicycle which I don't like, I'd rather walk.
I drive about 1.5 miles each way to work on a 125cc 4-stroke Scooter.  It claims 80 MPG, but I'm seeing more like 50.

It has a 1 gallon gas tank that I fill about every 1.5 weeks or so depending one what other errands I run.

This seems the best compromise between the speed of power, without the waste of the car.


It's remarkable how few soccer moms and dads there are in this readership. And rather impressive how relative few of us include children in our transport numbers.
PARTIAL Soccer Mom/Dad here:

I just switched my 6-cylinder SUV in for a 1984 4-cylinder light truck (rebuilt engine with econo cam, headers, OD tranny, etc.) This took me from 17-18 mpg to 33-35 mpg for my 75 mile daily commute. I cannot use the metro bus or rideshare as I must be at work before 6AM, and there just isn't anything running that early.

Traded in the wifes 14 mpg SUV for Prius in November. This took her to +/- 50 mpg with her more local city driving. But as she is a swim coach, she still puts in nearly the same miles as I do with 3 practices a day.

My daughter goes to schol downtown, and has a commute similar to me. She was using a 30 mpg VW Beetle. Once she saw the price differential, she switched to taking the metro bus. Gas comes out of THEIR POCKETS at my house. My other daughter goes to the same school, but lives on campus. She drives home maybe twice a month.

Eldest son traded in his 18 mpg SUV for a Honda Civic in October, and also moved to a location 1 block off campus. He rarely drives, and on Mothers Day, had to get his car jump started due to the battery being too low. He has also dropped 20 pounds this year from simply walking.

Youngest son is PO-aware, and wants to build an EV. He is currently gutting the donor car (he's 13), and just suggested we get an electric mower to replace the old gasser we have.

Change is taking place, but the squeeze isn't really on at $3 a gallon.

Nor, if the UK is any guide, will it be at $6/gallon.

Granted our distances are smaller (although most of us spend more time in traffic than Americans do so we would burn more fuel that way).  We actually drive a good deal faster, when we can (I would say the average motorway speed is over 80mph, I know people who do 100).  Germans are the same: no speed limit on the autobahn, my cousins were rear-ended because they were only doing 70.  Highway speed is as a European drug.

1/12 cars sold in the UK is an SUV.  1/8 in London, a city not noted for unpaved roads or snowdrifts.  You see very few Hummers but a Range Rover drinks gas.  

About half our cars sold, though, are now diesels.  I believe you do not yet have the low sulphur diesel fuel that would make this possible.  A diesel can get the same fuel economy as a hybrid car.

I think our average mpg is about 10mpg above yours (I always get confused because the published comparisons don't always say Imperial or US gallons): not that impressive for twice the gas price.

My conclusion is that without something like CAFE, the US won't make a big reduction in average fuel consumption.  At least until gas prices are really stringent.  Nor will the American love of sprawl stop.

Riding a bicycle in England is quite frankly, too terrifying for me.  If the hedge doesn't block your line of sight, going round a roundabout with cars and trucks which don't blink at cutting you up, is just too scary.  Drivers here have absolutely no courtesy regarding bicycles-- I've seen too many accidents.  And of course, here in London, even the toughest locked bicycles get stolen.   I used to ride a bike in Toronto all the time, but never here.

I am surprised at what you say about "terrifying" cycling in England. Six years ago I visited Britain and toured the island mixing cycling with train travel --which is rarely possible in North America.  I did not cycle in central London, but in every smaller centre from Portsmouth to Edinburgh, I found motorists quite tolerant and considerate. I did have the feeling, though, that the car-culture was still in the process of taking over the British psyche. Perhaps that process has advanced noticeably in the past six years.
London and the South East is much worse than the rest of the country.

In Toronto, up to age 25, I rode everywhere.  In London, at age 40, I don't even own a bike.  I have just seen too many accidents/ too many near accidents, and know too many people who had severe accidents.

It is dangerous enough being a pedestrian (pedestrians do not have right of way when crossing the road, in general, so you are at the mercy of car drivers who quite literally, look through you, because they are distracted on the phone or rushing or angry or whatever).

I take the bus and tube everywhere-- rent cars as necessary.  From a CO2 point of view, that isn't that much good.  Depending on load factor, the CO2 of a public transport journey can be as much as 2/3rds of a passenger car journey.  Of course I blow it all by going on holiday (flying) and by visiting Canada once a year-- a flight to Canada and back is as much CO2 as a small car emits during a year.

My main vulnerability is the supply chain.  The goods on the shelves come from all around the world: winter fruit and vegetable flown from the Southern hemisphere, or grown in the Middle East with desalination etc.  An amazing amount of what I consume comes via airfreight.  I shudder every time I walk by a flower stand-- the flowers are flown in from Africa and the Channel Islands, to be fresh in London stallholders hands.

Cut that supply chain, eg due to an explosion in oil price, and the whole thing breaks down.

Wife, child and I share 1 car, a 15 rear old civic, which we use once/week or less.  We've only purchased 18 gallons in the past 6 months.  We walk or bike to everything in town, year round here in Oregon, and have for nearly a decade, since we moved out of the woods.
I'm a soccer Dad of sorts.  My kids go to a science and mathematics "magnet" school a couple of neighborhoods away, which means I have to drive them to school each morning, then proceed to work.  One or two days a week I pick them up in the afternoon & drop them off with my wife, then go back to work to fill out the day, then to the gym to work off the calories I'm not burning by riding in the car.  The other days, my wife rides the bus (actually two buses each way) to pick them up, stopping by the gym and/or her volunteer work herself on the way.  Saturdays usually means going to a different gym for gymnastics for the kids.  Lately I've tried to at least make sure the shopping is done at the end of a work day instead of on the weekends.

This, along with trips to visit my family about 250 miles away, all adds up to 15,000 miles per year.  All this was done until recently in a 1991 1.8 L VW Fox, which was o.k. on gas mileage but had less than desirable reliability.  The Fox had a pilot bearing meltdown, requiring the clutch be pulled and the transmission input shaft be ground smooth.  The guy who fixed it said it was not as good as new, and would require a new transmission input shaft in a coupe of years - but VW doens't stock replacement 5-speeds for that model anymore.  I looked hard at the VW diesels, particularly given the biodiesel potential, but the reliability experience with the Fox steered me away from those.  I got a Prius, which is great - more room, much quieter, and I spend less on gas - $60 month, even with all this insane running around.  I do wish the ground clearance of the plastic air dam was a bit higher in the front.

I am looking towards getting an even higher-mileage family car when they come out - Bill Ford says Ford is shooting for a plug-in hybrid by 2009.  A diesel plug-in hybrid would be ideal.  Meanwhile, locally, the city is doing some smart things - offering low interest loans for energy efficiency improvements, expanding bus service, putting bike racks on the front of the buses so you can carry your bike on the bus.  I'm looking at taking advantage of some of these things soon - buying a Trek 520, bike trailer, and getting the city loan to put in a solar hot water heater or instant-on gas hot water heater.

I'm one of the child-free. Of all things you can do to help the environment, not having kids is about the most effective, even if you are yourself otherwise wasteful. But it wasn't eco-friendliness that got me to not want kids. I had a crappy childhood without a father. Since I wouldn't know how to be a father, I figured I'm doing the best thing possible for my kids - by not having them in the first place. Also, I can't earn enough to support a family, even if I wanted one.

By not having kids, I avoid adding load to all manner of services that all use energy. And I'm sure humanity won't die off just becuse I avoided having kids. That's what oil wars are for!

My commute to work - 75 miles driving, 2 x 400 mile flights usually in a 737, 5 miles taxi ride, finally 100 miles by helicopter (S92).  Reverse on the way home.  

Fuel consumption figures per passenger mile vary depending on source, but I have used a figure of 50 passenger/mpg for the plane and 20 for the helicopter.
I drive a diesel "mommy van", getting 40 mpg on a run.

Total fuel consumption per trip 46 galls.  I do this once every six weeks, working for 14 days.  That means my daily average for working days is 3.28 galls.

First time I have sat down and calculated this, bit suprised by the final total - it's the equivalent of a daily 50 - 60 mile commute in an average car.

Other than that, average between 8 - 10,000 miles / year motoring.  We live ten miles outside nearest town, and its far cheaper to use the van than public transport if more than one is going.  Making a conscious effort to limit driving - more methodical with the shopping to avoid unecessary trips, etc.  Bought bikes for entire family and am breaking them in gently.

Interesting stuff on the increasing cost of fuel for planes.
Note the increasing spread between the price of crude and the price of Jet Fuel (page 13 of the pdf.)

Sounds like you live in Aberdeen ;-).

The economy up there is not ready for the oil to run out.  Granted, there is 20 years extractible left in the ground.  But I don't think there are that many alternative industries.

With that .pdf about airlines and the fuel, it shows how desperate they are to save a gallon of fuel. Measures like sanding off the paint to save fuel is pretty desperate. I hope the fusalage is aluminium so it won't rust. Meanwhile, as passengers get obese (or more obese) the planes end up using more fuel all over again.

Airlines already ferry fuel around like drivers diverting to that cheaper gas station the 2 blocks away. If I owned an airline, I'd consider a couple tanker planes to fill up in Venezuela - like my whimsical idea for Steve Fossett to try. I personally buy my fuel at the cheapest Citgo station on my commuting route.

Since I don't have kids, how much fuel can I save by removing the back seats?....

The amount of weight you carry around will affect the fuel consumption, largest affect is when accelerating, minimal difference at a steady speed.  So if you have a lot of stop start driving, its well worth checking the trunk and throwing out anything not essential. A full gas tank weighs almost as much as an extra person on board, so depending on your driving pattern there are savings to be made there.   Having a seven seater van, I actually do remove the seats I don't need, although being honest that's as much for added room and comfort as for consumption.   Dont forget to remove roof bars if they are not required.
Fortunately the trunk is empty except for the balloon spare and the jack. That counts as essential. The car has no roof rack which helps. Except for removing the back seats, I'd have to grind away at the frame or do something else stupid. As far as the weight of the driver I could afford to lose 20 pounds, which would help. It takes less energy to move a skinny driver than a fat one!

Lightening cars at the factory would be way more productive for vehicular weight loss than anything an owner can do - except unless the owner is obese and lost a lot of weight.

I live in a walking distance from my workplace, so I don't drive there on a typical day.

My car has fallen apart enough that I'm getting rid of it next week; I definitely intend to repair my bicycle soon, and I won't be buying another car before fall this year. I have mainly used my car for grocery shopping trips with my neighbours, with whom I have been friends for several years now (they don't have a car of their own). So I have gone shopping with them maybe once a week and maybe once a month I've gone visiting my own or my girlfriend's relatives.

My car is a Suzuki SA-310 (also known in the US as Chevrolet Sprint and Pontiac Firefly), and it gets an impressive mileage. A bit of shame I have to let go of it, but its body is really in too bad shape and I don't have the patience to be welding all the spots that need it right now.

My next car will probably be an old Mercedes with a small diesel engine, although I don't drive enough for it to be financially a win for me. (In Finland diesel oil costs about 30 eurocents per litre less than gasoline - diesel is about 1 euro per litre and gasoline about 1.30 per litre currently - but owners of diesel powered automobiles pay an extra tax of 500 to 700 euros per year - depending on the size of the vehicle - for using more lightly taxed fuel.) I just happen to like the seventies and early eighties models and I also like MB's diesel engines. They're sluggish, but they run forever, and the smaller ones don't even consume very much fuel.

Work: I telecommute, so when I take the laptop out to a cafe, it's one within bicycling or walking distance.

Shopping: bicycle + baskets + trailer.  Affectionately called my Sports Utility Bicycle (SUB).

Church: Bicycle

Grad school: Light rail + bicycle in morning, bicycle home in the evening.  (one day a week).

Category: Other
Bicycle for close errands, scooter for longer errands and visits, old pickup when required to haul bulky items.  Currently unemployed, but hope to find employment within nearby radius from house so I can bicycle to it. I think this is typical for those of us Peakniks trapped in Kunstler's Asphalt Wonderland Dystopia-- only the well-to-do have A/C SUVs for the drive-thru and any other distance longer than a football field.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Walk the distance of a football field?  Naahh.  The largest SUVs are often found parking in the fire lane or blocking the crosswalk (with the engine idling) at the supermarket, since walking from the parking lot (100 feet) is apparently too far.
I'd like to evoke a scene from the movie Backdraft:

The fire department arrives at the fire and see a car is illegally parked blocking the fire hydrant. They efficiently break out all the car windows and pass their hoses thru the car.

We live in the country and therefore spend a lot of time in the car unfortunately. My partner currently has a contract which involves driving 80km round trip in a 2001 Subaru Legacy. I am currently driving two children to school 20km away (the third takes a school bus to a different school further away) and working at home during the day, which adds up to another 80km in a 1997 Mazda MPV. After school and weekend activities probably add at least another 20km per day on average. Both of us drive at 80km/h or less, much of it on roads with virtually no traffic, traffic lights or stop signs.

We also have a 1992 Ford F250 that we use occasionally for towing the shared haybine, hauling wood or hay, taking sheep to market or carrying a sled and sled dogs to regional races. We don't take vacations due to the difficulty and expense of finding a farm-sitter, so summers are our low-driving season.

Fortunately, the school run will probably last only one more year, at which point we may be able to retire the old MPV. We hope to get away without replacing it, but if that doesn't turn out to be possible then we'll be looking at a diesel Golf/Jetta/Passat, whichever is available second hand at a reasonable price. A plug-in diesel hybrid would be nice if they were available, but we'd never be able to afford one.

The long-term (and reasonably realistic) goal is to work from home as much as possible. At least our energy consumption at home is relatively modest - our only home energy bill is about $50 per month (and falling) for mains power as we heat with free wood. If we end up confined to base, so to speak, then at least it's a fairly self-contained and pleasant place to be. There would still be a few local places we could get to by bike or by dog sled if necessary, depending on the season.

Right now I'm driving ~7 miles (r/t) to work and back each day - in an SUV - I am not loving my Jeep right now, but as a very devoted outdoor person, I am not soccer-mom-ing it in my 4wd - I use it to drive dirt roads to get me to places to whitewater kayak, climb, mtn bike etc. - I need the hauling ability and ground clearance....


I have to move June 1, so I found a place 2 short blocks from my work - so starting June 1 I turn in my parking pass for work (for which my company gives me $160/month back) and walk the two blocks to work each day - my buddy whom I mtn bike with lives two blocks away, so we plan on splitting driving to our bike rides in the mornings (carpool) - further cutting down on use  - people at work can't believe I got so close, and many say "what will you do when it rains?"  - which is comical - i live in L.A.!!! and two short blocks with an umbrella on the occasional rainy day?  - it goes to show how far out of touch we've become from the forces of nature...(until yet another hurricane slams into the Gulf - and then a little too in-touch)

I was going to replace the Jeep with an Escape Hybrid (4wd gets ~28mpg) - but I have no car payment and with living so close to work, no point in worrying about the milage too much right now...

Now as long as I can keep my job (entertainment industry) when WTSHTF.....

I got serious about Peak Oil and I sold my SUV and bought a scooter, Piaggio BV500.  I get 65MPG and the bike will do 100 MPH.  I thought about a regular motorcycle but the new maxi scooters are the best of both worlds; great gas mileage and nimble handling of the scooter plus the power of a motorcycle.

I have no plans of ever buying another car.  Oh yea, and if I need a car for hauling stuff I use ZIP Car.  You pay by the 1/2 hour and they pay for gas and insurance.  $9 hr is not a bad way to go.  You just pay for what you use.  I highly recommend it if you live in a city where ZIP Car is available.

Our Nissan sedan gets 32-35 mpg around town. This winter I purchased a bicycle with friction drive motor and I have been using it most days for my 13 mile rt commute. Save much more than those miles when I use it because I do not go by Starbucks saving about 10 miles. The bicycle is nice because I get good exersise on the hills pedaling then pumping on the level when I feel like it. Have not measured my consumption yet but a 1 gallon can of fuel lasts for weeks.
96 miles per day.

three days per week.

32 weeks per year.

9216 miles commuting to/from work.


Private mileage maybe less than 2000miles p.a.

I tried giving up work, but I get billed for everything, even when I use nothing.

However, I work with mainly 16 -19 year olds.  They, very very nearly, all EXPECT to have their own car at aged 17 or 18.  AND often their parents buy them cars, and fill them up too.

So shall ye reap!


On a typical day the means of transportation is legs. From the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen, out to the shops & park & river, maybe,  to the computer in the front room and back to the bedroom.

Other transport is,  occasionally, bus, rail, tube and once or twice a year plane. Today I used overground rail to travel from where I was in South East London back to where I live in South West London, but "on a typical day" I don't.


I can drive, but do not like driving in London, and do not own a car.

I prefer to spend my time reading when travelling.

Living in Sweden with excellent public transportation. We have one car, Volvo v70 bifuel thats running on CNG or Biogas. Wife has 45 miles single way, I have most days 17 miles some days 30 miles.
When weather is ok and I dont have to pick up at daycare I pedal a real sweet speedbike. I beat the bus but lose that time in the shower at work... I'm planning to get a bike trolley (chariot's cougar 2 CTS -anyone seen anything better??) to use for daycare transport.
When weather is bad, I have a medium load to transport or just dont feel like it, I go by bus. It leaves every ten minutes, 1/2 a mile from my house and put me off right outside the hospitals gate!
When time is thight, when I have a bigger load or an errand and most of the times I'm on call or having a late shift I take the car, which when filled up on Biogas is fossil free!.
I save about ten minutes when driving.
My wife bikes short of two miles for the 45miles train or sometimes takes the car when short of time.
She saves about 20 minutes when driving.

In all I'll guess the car gets used twice a week. Both of us finds one great benefit of public vs car is that you arrive home more relaxed, 35min + of enforced contemplation really winds you down compared to the effects of the highway battle.

CNG/Biogas cars are still quite uncommon thanx to politicians promoting the ethanol hoax but the commuting style is quite typical in this area. Collective transportation is very good here and has no social stigma. If anything I think the ride I'm on has more professors than unemployed.
Still I see an awful lot of 4/5 empty cars and 6/7 empty SUVs on my commute.

In CO2 terms I think we do OK, living closer is not an option, the way the system works here our work is more of areabased.

Yankee - can you set up a similar poll for household electricity use, natural gas use, etc.?
RJB (or anyone else): Email theoildrum AT gmail with some suggestions for what options to put in these polls. Since I rent (and always have), I don't know what the proper poll entries would be.  
Was biking in snowstorms in the 1980's, and will be doing the same this year.  Just less of it because of global warming.  And I'll be using the electric hubs.

Still have a car, put less than 3K on it a year.   Need a truck for moving heavy items....

I almost always walk or take public transit. I use Zipcar whenever my wife wants Gerolsteiner from Trader Joe's. (She's German and just doesn't understand the idea of DRINKING tap water.) This is a semi-involuntary lifestyle. I had a 1999 Honda Civic HX, which got a good 45 mpg on the highway at 70 mph and could break 50mpg at 60-65mph. Great car! But it got stolen twice, once from right underneath my bedroom window while I slept and once from my workplace, I teach at high school in the Hyde Park section of Boston, where Mayor Menino lives.

My insurance paid for the car and honestly, it just doesn't make sense in terms of insurance alone to drive. I paid $140/mo. in insurance and pay $60/mo in transit now. That's $80 a month in savings before considering gas, maintenance, devaluation of the car, parking, property tax on it and the considerable misery of shoveling the car out after snow and let's not forget freezing in the car right after start-up on a 8 degree January morning, waiting to drive.

One Zipcar trip a month for a big shopping trip is about $30, all inclusive. Not a bad change, though ALL of my co-workers think I'm nuts, even the "bonified "liberal environmentalists" who teach and drive Mercedes SUV's!

make sure you get flouride toothpaste ... i've heard that there is a rebound in US tooth decay coinciding with increased bottled/filtered water use.


Further reading on water. Addresses Chlorine and Flouride about a 1/3 of the way down the page. Perhaps if more people had poor teeth the signal to noise ratio would change for the better.


To flop about a bit, take fish, Omega 3 is good for us but mercury isn't.



A thyroid specialist I know well says that fluoridated water is the most likely cause of the explosion of hypo thyroidism that he sees-- a lot of kids who are diagnosed 'hyperactive' or conversely, 'fat', who are simply suffering from an underactive thyroid gland (in the former case, leading to an overactive pituitary gland, in the latter to a low metabolic rated).

Seems to me regular brushing is a solution to this, without the risks of the above.

Apparently fluoride is beneficial for your teeth, but why in the hell would you want to DRINK it?  That's nuts.  
as much as i appreciate the links above, i think the epidemiological studies have found it to be a solid win.

i've heard it said that amercian dentists were the only professional organization that every lobbied to reduce their income on such a grand scale.

i'm not a flouride 'advocate' though, just a bemused observer.

Interesting that Boston is (apparently) still famous for its car thieves!

In the 1980s, it was never a particularly violent city as American cities go, but its car thieves were infamous.  First place I ever saw a 'no radio in car' sign on a car (on Beacon Hill).  I don't know if the doyen of Boston crime writers, George V. Higgins, ever wrote about car thieves, but he should have.

Here in London, when a car is stolen, it is on its way to Nigeria or Russia by the time you have reported it (or it has been wrecked by some joyrider).  Anything nice or unusual, and they steal to order (Lexus SUV etc).  This despite having the steering wheel on the 'wrong' side of the car.

The other favourite tactic is 'keying'.  The local youth run a key along at waste height, anything that remotely resembles a nice car.  Or, if they really like you, they set your car on fire.

(I live in a gentrified, predominantly white, inner city area about 2 miles from St. Paul's Cathedral).

In contrast to the other posts, I drive 170 miles a day, 4 days a week to work.  I drive a 86 Golf diesel and make my own biodiesel from waste vegetable oil.  2 of the 3 days off I generally stay home.  The other day i usually drive about 30 miles to collect my oil and supplies.  I live in a rural area and just to get to a town is 12 miles.

When I started this job 2 years ago, I was driving a 1/2 ton pickup - about 17 mpg for a couple months.  Then cars getting 30mpg.  I´ve been driving the Golf for over a year now - about 48mpg.  I´m making progress I think.

Car-free for almost 1 1/2 years. Ride a bike 90% of the time for commuting, groceries, and errands. I have a flat-bed Burley trailer for larger loads. Use the bus or walk the rest of the time, and the occasional cab. My bike-to-work commute used to be 18 miles round trip when I lived in Houston. Where I live now, it's about 8 miles round trip.
Hi TODers!

I have a 1989 Honda Civic, known affectionately in our home as "the Little Car that Could".  170,000 miles, runs great, gets me from point A to B so dependably and with such good gas mileage (35/45 or thereabouts).  It simply refuses to give me an excuse to get rid of it for something fancier.

The real treat is how I get to my job every day.  I drive three miles to the nearest light rail station, then ride New Jersey Transit's "River Line" for about 15 miles to Trenton, where I walk one block to the office.  So on a typical weekday I drive a total of six miles and ride the light rail for 30.  This light rail system, which commenced operation in 2004, uses a new technology offered by the Bombadier Corp. - a "clean burning diesel" engine located in the middle of each individual car.  Smooth, clean and quiet - a real joy to ride!  See www.riverline.com for more information.

I cannot overstate the difference in peace of mind in using this system to get to work when compared to the years of fighting highway traffic.  And as the age of cheap oil is coming to an end, we better get cracking and build more of them.

I usually ride a 150cc scooter around the
suburbs and to work. I have a small (1.3 litre
5 speed manual Diahatsu which sat in the
garage till I needed to transport something,

However,  recently I have been clocking up huge
mileage: I have been looking for somewhere
to run to escape the dysfunctional city
I live in (Manukau, Auckland NZ) which has
no light rail, poor public bus servces and
has just committed to massive motorway,
shopping mall and road construction to support
the rampant urban sprawl the city council is
encouraging (the city council just refuse to
accept any arguments based on peak oil, global
warming or anything else happening in the real
world that I have been presenting over the
past 4 years). The economic dogma of more growth
of population as a solution to economic woes
still reigns supreme.  I now want to get out before it
all crashes.

What is interesting is the dramatic rise in
property values in provincial centres away from
the major centres and the slump in values in
cities such as Auckland, which are becoming
more unlivable by the month. That is of no
help to me of course!

Just how long the Auckland region will continue
to function once PO really starts to bite is
anyone's guess, but I see the signs of collapse
beginning already. With almost no local food
production, no local energy production and an
economy based on tourism and shopping, I see
Auckland as doomed, unless the bumpy plateau
continues for another decade. And what's the
chance of that?

Of course the Clark Government is obsessed
with economic growth and equates more
consumption of fuel by bigger vehicles
with progress. They really are absolutely
nuts, driving NZ straight off the cliff.

Sad that a country with such a 'green' reputation should have so backward a mentality.

If you read Tim Flannery's books (Australian scientist) 'The Weather Makers' about global warming and 'The Eternal Frontier' (about man and the natural history of North America) he makes the (good) point that Americans always see themselves as conquering the frontier and civilising it, thus justifying destroying the wilderness-- they see themselves as being in struggle with it.

The same frontier is to be conquered and tamed mentality, perhaps, afflicts Australians and New Zealanders.  Flannery's books (which are both excellent) are particularly good ('The Weather Makers') on the Perth drought and the changes that is bringing to Australian society (perhaps the rise of Pauline Hansen and anti-immigrant politics is not coincidentally linked to the drought and the privation Australian farmers are suffering).

Most days, preKatrina, I walked and took the streetcar (my route uses streetcars built in 1923 & 1924, open since 1834).  I used the car when I needed to meet clients not otherwise available.  Most necessities and pleasures of life were within walking distance and more beyond were near the streetcar lines.

I used an average of 6 gallons (21 l)/month of diesel in my 1982 Mercedes 240D (manual transmission).  Average city mileage 31 mpg.

You might know this already, but going on nearly 30 years of bike commuting between 3 and 15 miles round trip per day. With one year sandwiched somewhere in there of 25 miles round-trip daily by car.
I'm going to partially second Brian's comment over on Treehugger. Partially, because I think hydrogen is likely a pipe dream in the near to medium term.

I actually bike to work about half the time but I was doing that in the 1990s when gas was dirt cheap, It had little to do with saving gas money and more to do with getting outside and getting some exercise. Something not integrated with my day, like a health club, was never going to work effectively.

However, before I would feel motivated to bike (or bus) to work 'sacrificially', i.e. for the primary purpose of reducing oil use, I'd have to see a few things:

(1) $25/gallon gas. A 40 minute round trip by car takes about 130 minutes by bike, including washing up and changing. 90 minutes for a measly couple of bucks? I don't think so - the average wage is around $15/hour. And, BTW, the bus is much worse - 180 minutes (plus some health club time) - because it's slow, tardy and unreliable. And if I try to read or use a laptop, it wiggles and wobbles and I feel carsick, so the time is an utter, colossal waste.

(2) If the issue is global warming, a good scientific reason to act as though gas costs $25 a gallon. Forget speculative Hollywood disaster scenarios, they're a dime a dozen, and the world has been going to end tomorrow for millennia. Coral reefs are a remote abstraction, somebody give me a practical reason why they matter. Otherwise I would worry more about human poverty, which I suspect is not going to be helped one whit by the radical limits advocated by some. Also, forget abstract sentimentalism -  it's in the nature of Nature, red in tooth and claw, that pointless stuff lives and pointless stuff dies. So what?

(3) Sociopolitical evidence that I ought to act as though gas costs $25 a gallon. For example, and I've alluded to this before, major airport closures and truly massive layoffs in conventions and tourism. Around here, Chicago Midway could easily handle all the flying everyone in central and southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and northern Indiana ever needs to do, maybe one or two overseas flights in a lifetime and a few domestic flights. I'm not really willing to "sacrifice" precious time day in and day out while those elitists who say I should do so are still frivolously jetting here, jetting there, and jetting everywhere, on book tour and to "conferences". Book tours and conferences are nice, but given 21st means of communication, they are a luxury, not a necessity.

(4) A good deal of global warming ;-) The alarmists have already promised me that, but bikes somehow remain quite useless up here from around late November to mid or late March. And busses are equally useless, because even a few snowflakes turn the customary sloth, tardiness, and unreliability into utter chaos - such that it can be an hour or three before the dang things deign to show up.

  • a billion people migrate from the third world to the first, leaving another 2-3 billion behind to starve to death.  6,000 National guardsmen on the Mexican border won't exactly slow them down ;-).

  • agriculture becomes unsustainable where there is fertile land (most of northern Canada is bad soil and scrub pine forest, moving the midwest grain belt up there won't help agriculture)

  • Katrina is repeated again, again and again, as its intensity was directly related to the unusually warm water temperatures in the Gulf when it formed

  • diseases like West Nile virus, hitherto unknown in temperate climbs, migrate increasingly northwards

  • the malarial mosquito returns to North America

  • Greenland and the other ice packs melt, raising world sea levels by as much as 12', flooding the most populated parts of the US and Europe (and Asia)

  • mass species extinction destabilises the ecosystem

  • the sea becomes too acidic for sea life, and we have a mass die off of fish (the death of coral reefs already anticipates this)

  • it becomes too hot to go outside at mid day in most of the world's temperate regions

  • mass water shortage leads to full scale conflict, particularly in the middle East.  That conflict turns nuclear as nations fight over access to water.

These are only some of the potential consequences of global climate change.  Some of them are certain in any case (eg mass extinctions).  Some we don't yet know.

We should be alright in the next 20-30 years, only inconvenienced.  For our children and grandchildren, this will be a far greater challenge and threat than terrorism, etc.

Tim Flannery's book 'The Weather Makers' is very current on global warming: both the scientific evidence for, and the costs of.

If the coral reefs die, and/ or the sea becomes acid, then life on the surface of planet Earth may become unsupportable.

If global temperatures rise as much as threatened (eg 10 degrees centigrade/ 25 fahrenheit by 2100) then much of the surface of the planet becomes uninhabitable-- the Sahara could more than double in size.

And of course the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice packs means global sea levels could rise by as much as 12 feet.  Which means much of the US seaboard would be under water, not to mention the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and numerous third world countries.

The severity of storms like Katrina was directly linked to the global rise in sea temperatures which were several degrees centigrade above normal.  Are you arguing Katrina was not a human significant event?

And of course there are several billion people who live in places that might become uninhabitable.  The Sahel in sub Saharan Africa is in its 7th year of drought.  Most of those people will die, but enough are left over who will move.

The fall of Rome was associated with mass migrations of barbarians.  Of course, the US president is moving 6,000 National Guardsmen to his southern border (which will have little or no effect, but looks good on TV).  And 100 people a day wash up drowned on the Spanish beaches, having tried to cross from Africa by small boat.

The reality is, if world average temperatures rise 2 degrees centigrade, we are inconvenienced and there are big costs.

If they rise 5 degrees, it could trigger plagues, wars and famines.  9-11 showed that a 'failed state' like Afghanistan is not an irrelevance to Americans: from there a terrorist organisation was able to train and mobilise, to strike at the heart of the USA.

If they rise 10 degrees, which some scientists now think possible, then whether there will be a civilisation in 2100 is open to question.  Across the entire planet.

You must be talking about those Pace buses, which are like riding in a storm chasing plane. Not only can't you read or use a laptop, but sleeping is impossible when the slightest pebble on the road sends you 6 inches in the air too. And their tardiness is legendary.
"A good deal of global warming ;-) The alarmists have already promised me that, but bikes somehow remain quite useless up here from around late November to mid or late March."

Why is that ? I live in Norway and bike 15 miles round trip to work all year round. We have plenty of snow and cold weather here. With studded tires (300 in each tire!) and proper clothing it is no problem at all to commute in 0F weather with black ice.

Lite Rail and bus...  Thinking about Lite Rail and bicycle.

Shearson is calling for a 20% reduction in commodity prices.  Why?  Is price having the desired effect?  $60 didn't cut it.  $70 didn't.  But at $75 we have seen demand dstruction.  Who's demand is being destroyed?

Light rail and bus.

As much as Knustler deplores the sprawl in Calgary--which he's right about--we still have one of the highest riderships in Norht America of our city transit. An estimated 500,000 people in a city over over 1 million rides transit every weekday.

And it only takes me an hour by bus/train compared to the 45 minutes by car to get to work. A very fair trade I think.

I've put 110,000KM on my 2004 Toyota Echo since I bought it in December 2003.  I live about 80KM (37mi?) from work.

I carpool about 50% of the time but the rest I'm alone.  Funny thing is... as gas prices have risen, it's actually gotten easier to find carpool buddies.  So I actually pay less gas now with a full carpool that I did when prices were cheap and I had no carpool.

We're selling our 2nd car.  My wife walks or bikes to work/school.  We're removing our oil furnace and putting in electric base board, possibly radiant heating.. and a solar DHW pre-heater... also replacing windows in our 1940s era house and insulating/sealing as much as we can.

You do what you can with what you have... we compost... have a reasonable garden for the size of our yard... fresh herbs...

we have our vices too but hopefully we're making it easier to drop them when the time comes.

'Coral reefs are a remote abstraction, somebody
give me a practical reason why they matter.'

Coral reefs, like plankton, are at the base of
the ocean food chain. once we have buggered
coral reefs and plankton, the oceans will lose
90% of their productivity. That means no
ocean-going fish to eat and worldwide starvation.
Sadly, worldwide starvation is what we need to
remove a lage portion fo the plague of humans
that are destroying the planet.

Never driven a car. Walk, bus or train everywhere. If I needed to go a longer distance without public transport, I suppose I'd get a bike.

The only problem is when I go out socially, people absolutely insist on giving me a lift home in their car. In the end I've learned to grin and bear it, rather than offend people by refusing. Car drivers just can't imagine that there are people who really don't like cars.

I'm in management consulting and I work where ever my client is located in the United States.  My house and home is in Northeast Ohio.
Current my client is in Atlanta.  Monday mornings I board a plane and fly to Atlanta from Cleveland.  While in Atlanta I commute from the hotel to the client site on the subway.  Thursday evenings I fly back home from Atlanta.  On Friday I work out of my house.

I've been doing this for the last four months.  Prior to this project I worked in NYC for a year and a half commuting between Cleveland and NYC.

I'm not sure how I would vote for this situation.

I've often wondered in a post peak world what will be the cross over point where airfare costs are to prohibitively high for a business model like on-site consulting to continue to work.

I wonder if an alternative, for example remote consulting work performed with telecommunications, would be acceptable to clients.  There is a tangible factor where they seem to like to see us and have us on-site.  I'm not sure if you can only do remote and charge the same hourly rates....

Until a year ago, I lived in the Tokyo western suburbs. Eight years and never owned a car.
The last four years I commuted to work by train after walking seven minutes to the nearest station, and then walking 10 minutes at the other end. I could have changed to the subway part of the way there and got out at the subway stop under the building where I worked, but it was nicer to get one train all the way and have a walk to stretch my legs before the daily grind.
I also bought a decent cross-country bike and cycled a part-off-road route to work twice a week (except in summer--too hot), which was about 20 km each way.
In the summer my family often goes camping in the mountrains so we would borrow or rent a car for the weekend maybe seven or eight times a year.
Visiting friends by long distance was nearly alway by train.
Shopping trips were nearly always by train, foot or bike.
In Japan if you buy a large item the shop will always offer free or very cheap delivery.
The local home centre (hardware, furnishings, gardening stuff, etc.) had a system of free loans of minitrucks for up to one hour if you bought bulky items.
I now live in the countryside near the mountains, but I am still close enough to cycle to most places within 10 mins: railway station, supermarket/home center, post office, bakery, son's school, riverside park, Korean restauarant, etc.
My wife owns a 660cc car that uses about 6 litres of petrol per 100 km. It's used for occasional shopping trips to the nearby local city, trips to the hot springs, and occasionally for a longer trip to see friends in other parts of Japan. My wife uses it to go to work but she can walk or cycle if I have to use the car.
I ususally work from home now.
6 litres of petrol per 100 km

= 39.2 mpg (US) or 47.0 mpg (UK) as calculated here

I live in Aberystwyth, mid-Wales (UK), population 11k. I don't have a car; the bus and rail stations are 5 minutes walk away, likewise the shops, the seafront, the wood behind the town - damn, everything is 5 minutes walk away :)

Some pictures here.

Live in Somerville, Massachusetts, and commute to Cambridge. Usually that means bike, but I can walk it (80 minutes) or take the subway. I still need a car for errands, primarily for my mother, but I no longer commute with it. The hard part is that Somerville has a 48 rule on parking cars in the street, and I've had to take notes on which streets it gets enforced on. WHen those streets are packed, I leave the car in the more forgiving city of Medford. That in turn means having to check tire pressure every time I drive, since 5 days is enough to be a problem.
I've just registered - wanted to thank everyone who contributes to TOD for the high level of the discussion. I've been following peak oil for 2 years now and TOD sets a high standard for the debate.

I consolidated my family from two cars to one and was able to find a job that allows me to commute by train (earlier it was a 40 minute drive each way). It's now a mile walk to the train every morning, but the 2 miles daily is good exercise.

My family drives 90% less than it used to simply by virtue of me having dumped the commute. Also, we drive less on the weekend because of the self-imposed challenge of having a single car. It strikes me that I've been fortunate - that most American families can't easily make these kind of changes in the very short-term.

Drive 70 miles/day Believes peak oil is happening but we are working around it. We have been to the moon already, the technology is here to solve it. Nuclear and solar are the fixes, maybe natural gas also. Welcome to the Electric economy. I own a CNG car. I fill up for %1.50 /gal. See ngv.org etc.
If you're at a concert, and the people infront of you stand up, how long do you spend yelling at them or moaning about them, and how soon do you begrudgingly stand up as well, so that you can enjoy the environment at least as well as them - still knowing that it'd be so much better if EVERYBODY sat down again...

I buy green power, I drive a car that comes close to hybrid efficiency (when the aircon is off) anf I fly about accumulating my airmiles.

All conservation does is make fuel cheaper for those who couldn't give a *. All bying hybrids does, in the absence of government (societal) intervention, is keep prices down for SUV drivers...

I hate this aspect of reality - but it is real - and damned if I'm going to comprimise my life to subsidise ignorant ***s who can't see what they're doing to my planet.

Am I a hypocrite, or just being rational?  


Too right, my journey costs in excess of £32 for a single trip to work, two trains and a bus each end. It's about 40 miles, and around £5 in fuel. I know there are more costs involved, but it's astronomical. There's a guy who worked it out penny for penny here: cheaper by car He reckons that if you use a Renault Clio 1.2, his journey go's from around £8 for a train and bus, to around £3 including tax, insurance, MOT, etc. In an age where the government and media are attempting to become more ecologically friendly, how come it's so much more expensive to get public transport. Shouldn't it be the other way round? My journey takes 2 hours on Public transport, and 1 hour in my car, and it is so much cheaper by car.