Friday, May 23, 2008

Paying at the Pump

Hey, it's been a while, not having my laptop has been rough, but it will be back in two weeks (hopefully).

As most of you know, gas is ridiculously expensive, and a story in today's New York Times, with this wonderful prompt: “'The psychology has changed,” said Sara Johnson, an economist at Global Insight. “People have recognized that prices are not going down and are adapting to higher energy costs. It’s a capitulation.'”

It makes you wonder, I figured out a while ago that gas wasn't going to go down, so why is it only now that people are figuring it out? More than that, it makes us need a more viable mode of transportation, and air fare is out of the question, especially with the whole American Airlines fiasco (of course that had to be the weekend I was flying).

The article points out that America is still the cheapest with gas, and has been for a long time, with France paying about $7.70 per gallon. The difference: Europe has trains, and they go everywhere. If you've ever tried to book anything on Amtrak, trying to get from point A to point B on it is a pain in the ass, to say the least. So the question is: Will the price of gas cause America to reexamine Amtrak, or possibly create a new, better system? I, for one, am all for a train system.

Also, will the spike in gas prices also create a friendlier place for cycles and pedestrians? I feel very awkward whenever I ride my bike in the roads and try to stay on the side streets. One of my favorite pictures (which of course I can't find) is a poster from the City of Berlin that shows how much needless space is taken up by personal cars. Perhaps this will also slow down suburban sprawl that has taken over the country; perhaps we will see less of the same hideous tract housing sprouting up outside of urban areas.

The gas crunch is a pain, but maybe some good will come out of this spike in prices, and America will look for solutions on public transportation, housing, and the environment. I want to end on one of my favorite lines from the song 'Self Evident' by Ani DiFranco:

here's to our last drink of fossil fuels
may we vow to get off of this sauce
shoo away the swarms of commuter planes
and find that train ticket we lost
cuz once upon a time the line followed the river
and peeked into all the backyards
and the laundry was waving
the graffiti was teasing us
from brick walls and bridges
we were rolling over ridges
through valleys
under stars
i dream of touring like duke ellington
in my own railroad car
i dream of waiting on the tall blonde wooden benches
in a grand station aglow with grace
and then standing out on the platform
and feeling the air on my face

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