Gas prices: Strategies for easing the pain

In this entry from Greater Greater Washington — one of my daily must-reads here about DC growth and urbanism issues — he digs up a 12-year-old op-ed from Russell Baker in the New York Times about the pain of rising gas prices. (Back when they were spiking over a dollar:)

Sure I’m mad about the price of gasoline, but what I’m really mad about is having to buy the stuff just to go to the grocery.

I’m mad about the grocery having relocated from just around the corner to three miles away in what used to be a cornfield out in the country. And why? Because the grocer needs 15 acres of parking lot to accommodate cars that have to be driven three miles every time you want a bag of grapefruit and a gallon of milk.

I’m mad about not having a bus or streetcar system left like the one that once enabled people to travel those six miles for a little pocket change.

Lost in the concern over “how we will do our driving this summer” is the larger concern: What will we do next summer, and the summer after that when prices are still painfully high? And why do we have to drive so much anyway?

I’d love to see someone stand up in a debate soon and ask that question of the candidates: “Instead of making driving temporarily cheaper, how can you help us fundamentally change things so we don’t have to drive everywhere? I’d really like to drive less. Can you help me do that?