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Which is greener: better fuel economy or less sprawl?

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by The Brandon Five, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. The Brandon Five

    The Brandon Five Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Consumer Reports: GM's Volt 'doesn't really make a lot of sense' | detnews.com | The Detroit News

    With oil going through the roof and alternatives like plugins looking like more marketing than science, do people on here see a possible end to "sprawl"? In other words, if traveling longer distances becomes much more expensive does that lead to a secular change in the American lifestyle?

    I personally live in a very "walkable" area with a grocery store, hardware store, post office, banks, restaurants, etc. all a short walk away. If gas goes to $5 or $6, would you consider moving closer to your place of work or to essential services so that your need to travel is reduced (whether by car or public transport)?
  2. shirtsleeve

    shirtsleeve Rookie

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    Not practical for me right now. So no.

    maybe if and when I retire.
  3. Nikolai

    Nikolai Football Atheist PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    I think you're hitting on the right points. Sprawl is a major part of our dependence on the automobile, and definitely something that drives the cost of maintaining infrastructure sky high.

    The problem is the cost of housing in the city. For example, the cost of housing inside the DC beltway makes getting out of the sprawl a little less doable for most people (Maryland is more affordable [sort of, but perhaps not really after taxes] but also less desirable).
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  4. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #91 Jersey

    Oh, you mean a city, at least thats what i think they're called, I recently read cities are making a come back. I don't think $5 or $6 dollar gas would cause a mass migration back to the cities, it wouldn't cause me to move back. But i would say less sprawl to answer your question.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  5. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The car guys think that people start asking these questions when gas hits 4-5 bucks a gallon. This is what happened when it got up there in 08, if you guys remember. Lots of interest in both these things, public transportation and electric vehicles.

    It'll be really nice if the US auto sector can make the "winner" out of all the imperfect replacements for internal combustion vehicles, but this one review says Volt ain't it, and given what they paid for one, I can see the reviewer's point. If his $ numbers are accurate, I can choose between almost getting the shelby cobra flavor of mustang and a slightly guilty conscience, or a Volt. Um, Shelby, right?

    I don't think that's just an old-guy thing. Maybe in a few years, but not quite yet.

    On the other side of the coin, yeah, I live in an area where I can take a bus (sometimes do, sometimes the Mrs. takes me) to a train, then take the train to my job. That and a condo where sometimes it's heated with the heat off, just because everybody's else is heated, and I've got a relatively small carbon footprint. In fact, me & the Mrs. mainly only use the bedroom, and rarely use the downstairs, which lops another chunk off our energy use at home. I've been going up to NJ every other week lately though, so that puts me more into the "part of the problem" realm.

    I guess what a lot of people don't realize is you just don't need all the room you can afford. I made the conscious choice to buy less, closer in, instead of more, further out. I wanted the mobility... and in a city, a car isn't mobility. Access to infrastructure is.

    But if you ask how to make electric vehicles attractive, you have to posit the all-in cost of vehicle and fuel, even if they're good enough to merit that analysis (and then, as our fossil fuel worshippers say, you have to cost in electricity... and if electric vehicles catch on then, yes, you have to have efficient generation of power other than from coal.)

    But a lot of what we're talking about is commuting. And the impact of telecommuting on commuting may be the single biggest input in the whole equation, and one that is most accessible through workplace incentives (of course, you can't incentivize things with a flat tax, so we'd have to just run out of gas and panic if we really want our tax code to change more than our energy consumption patterns.)


    PFnV
  6. The Brandon Five

    The Brandon Five Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Touching on points made by both Flex and PFinV: how about a model where there are many smaller communities with centralized services? The need for public transport means that you are still spread out. I am suggesting that we try to live and work closer to home.

    Close down that Super WalMart that's 15 miles from your house and replace it with 6 smaller grocery and department stores that are spread out. The big boxes are part of the phenomenon. There are many who have been decrying the loss of small stores as WalMart moves in to an area. Maybe higher transportation costs start to shift that the other way? If the drive costs you five or ten bucks (just in gas) you might opt to pay a little more and go to the shop down the street.
  7. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #91 Jersey

    A few years ago i saw a program about a small community set up like what your describing in Nevada? (not sure don't remember exactly) people got around on bicycles i believe. But in essence thats just the beginning of a small town. I was on the island of Key Biscaine last November. (Thats the way i roll yo :p) While most people live in opulent homes they drove golf carts around the neighborhood. Pretty much all that they needed was only a short distance away. They picked up their kids and went shopping using golf carts or a close facsimile there of. There were super markets, hardware stores, pharmacies, and resturants. Miami is just a few minutes away. I think PFiV is on to something with tele commuting, i was going to throw that in but feel it really won't make a big impact for another 10 years or so.

    REAL men drive Smart cars not SUVS and Pick ups.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  8. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #24 Jersey

    The government actually encourages teleworking for several reasons. Cutting down on traffic and it's related pollution is only one of them. Teleworking also cuts down office expenses - the need for space, the need for heat and lights and all other energy costs becomes lower when you have less people coming into the office.

    I believe something like 44% of government jobs offer some form of telecommuting (from 1 day a week to several or even all) and 22% of employees have chosen to work from home.

    The government is also big on flex time whenever possible - for instance allowing people to work 3 twelve hour shifts per week with an 8 hour day thrown in every other week to make a 80 hour payweek or 4 ten hour days per week or 9 nine hour days with a day off every (2 week) pay period. They also, whenever possible, allow "off hour" scheduling such as starting at 7AM or 10AM - thus helping to keep the rush hour traffic down to a minimum at the standard 8 or 9AM start times.

    Every little bit helps.

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