After years of inactivity while gasoline was cheap, leaders are now scrambling to “do something” about the high gas prices that are making life difficult for everyday Americans. The solutions range from short-sighted (drill ANWR) to ultimately ineffective (national speed limit), and most fail to address the core issue that makes gas prices matter so much: We’ve left ourselves with little option but to take a drive to meet our daily needs.
If we want to experience real relief, we need to begin investing again in other modes of transportation and land use patterns that don’t rely on massive consumption of a highly sought-after worldwide resource, 2/3 of which comes to us from overseas.
Governor Parris Glendening had an op-ed published on Planetizen this morning calling on our leaders to meet the demands of Americans across the country who are seeking “more and better options:”
But what the American public already has discerned is that the only sure-fire way to reduce our vulnerability is to reduce our need to consume oil and gasoline. Unwilling to wait for government action, Americans are taking matters into their own hands.
Seeking a cheaper commute, we are turning to transit. Public transportation ridership is at its highest point in 50 years, according to the American Public Transportation Association. To eliminate those painful visits to the pump, we’re trimming our car trips: Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April 2008 than in April 2007, the first drop in nearly 30 years.
Looking to live closer to work, we’re searching for homes near urban centers. The Associated Press reported last week that 78 percent of more than 900 Coldwell Banker real estate agents surveyed said that high gas prices were increasing their clients’ desires to live in cities. Meanwhile, the McMansion in the partially built subdivision in a distant suburb is the real estate equivalent of the over-sized SUV: They are becoming increasingly difficult to unload.
Read the whole op-ed at Planetizen. Thanks to Tim and Planetizen for picking it up.