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View Poll Results: How much does gas have to cost before the average car driver switches to bicycles?
At least $4.00/gallon 5 6.02%
At least $6.00/gallon 14 16.87%
At least $8.00/gallon 11 13.25%
At least $10.00/gallon 53 63.86%
Voters: 83. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-15-05, 03:35 PM   #1
barenakedbiker
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How much does gas have to cost before the average car driver switches to bicycles?

How much does gas have to cost before the average car driver switches to bicycles?
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Old 08-15-05, 03:57 PM   #2
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I didn't vote in this poll. Your question presupposes that the only alternative to high gas prices is riding a bicycle. To a lot of people, that thought will never enter their mind. Instead they'll vote for politicians who will promise lower gas prices, or support car manufacturers that make alternative fuel/hybrids, or look into public transportation, or *gasp* just plain ol' walking. I think it is naive to assume that just because gas prices go to some threshold, people are just going to naturally gravitate to a bike; for some there are a lot of other options that will come before that.
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Old 08-15-05, 04:00 PM   #3
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I'm not even sure the average car driver would switch at $10.00 per gallon.

Assume:
1. daily 10 mile commute, 50/week
2. 20 mpg
3. that's 5 gals of gas. At $10 that's only $50/week.
4. commuting 48 weeks/year, that's only 240 gals, so $2,400/year.
5. With $24k vehicle, that's only 10% for fuel. For $48k, that only 5%. Can't see Hummer or Suburban driver switched for just 7% cost change.

$30.00 a gallon. then we would see an meaninful increase, anything less is wishful thinking.

Biggest problems with bicycles:
1. limited carry on space
2. exposed to elements and commuters just want to jump out of bed and go, no dressing.
3. distances are too great for many
4. other family members need transportation. Kind of hard to take kid to school and then continue on to work.
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Old 08-15-05, 04:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 'nother
I didn't vote in this poll. Your question presupposes that the only alternative to high gas prices is riding a bicycle. To a lot of people, that thought will never enter their mind. Instead they'll vote for politicians who will promise lower gas prices, or support car manufacturers that make alternative fuel/hybrids, or look into public transportation, or *gasp* just plain ol' walking. I think it is naive to assume that just because gas prices go to some threshold, people are just going to naturally gravitate to a bike; for some there are a lot of other options that will come before that.
Your point is well taken. That's why I suggest different prices. One auto driver might switch to buses at $4.00, another might switch to carpooling at $5.00, and still another might switch to bikes at $4.00. Got it?
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Old 08-15-05, 04:05 PM   #5
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Addendum: you'll see a lot more bus, car-pooling scooter, and motorcycle commuting before you would see bicycle commuting. In non-urban enviroments, distances are too great and people are too dependent on motorized transportation.
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Old 08-15-05, 04:21 PM   #6
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Bicycles replacing cars is a pipe dream.

What we should be shooting for in the short term is "driving" folks toward purchasing higher MPG vehicles, and in the long term coming up with alternative fuels.

Weather/Cargo/Passengers etc, will always make the "exclusively bicycle" life impractical for all but the most spartan and thrifty.
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Old 08-15-05, 04:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
Bicycles replacing cars is a pipe dream.

Weather/Cargo/Passengers etc, will always make the "exclusively bicycle" life impractical for all but the most spartan and thrifty.
Mostly agree. But think it is a mistake to talk focus on exclusive bicycle life or to set up the cycyling model as only for Spartans and Thrifty.

Cycling would be better compared to sking or golf:

1. the equipment is not cheap
2. there's always new gear
3. thrifty does not sell in USA. Most people have a good bike and good accessories. What's your commute peer group?.
4. If we set the garage sale bike as the ideal model, then very very few of the people momentarily ticked off by gas prices would every consider cycling. Most people in US want style with their commute vehicle.
5. The combo sales pitch of
a. better health,
b. save on auto/truck [suv] expenses
c. not as hard with the newer bikes
d. there's an active support group to help you learn what you need to know.

That has a small chance of success. Even with all that, of my immediate family group. Only one other would consider a bike and gas would have to be about $50 a gallon or new home would have to be very bike friendly for any consideration of biking.
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Old 08-15-05, 05:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
...commuters just want to jump out of bed and go, no dressing.
yeah, there's the real problem: naked drivers!

i think that when fuel gets to be over $10/gallon, assuming a minimum wage of less than six bucks or so, you're going to see some changes. what changes, i have no idea. but something.

consider: many of the most apathetic voters are our minimum wage earners. they are also near the bottom of the automotive food chain - they can't afford to replace their clunker with a Prius. once fuel costs to get back and forth to work starts to affect their ability to feed themselves, they'll get less apathetic quick. in a similar financial boat will be working college students and the like - plus, they'll be better educated.

how many revolutions have started with an alliance of the working classes and students? we won't have a revolution (at least not a violent one), but all these folks can vote...
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Old 08-15-05, 05:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barenakedbiker
Your point is well taken. That's why I suggest different prices. One auto driver might switch to buses at $4.00, another might switch to carpooling at $5.00, and still another might switch to bikes at $4.00. Got it?
Based on that response, I'm doubtful as to how well the point was taken. You do not have a "the cost of gas has nothing to do with people switching to bicycles" option in your poll.
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Old 08-15-05, 07:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by 'nother
Based on that response, I'm doubtful as to how well the point was taken. You do not have a "the cost of gas has nothing to do with people switching to bicycles" option in your poll.
My bad.
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Old 08-15-05, 07:31 PM   #11
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Invalid poll in my opinion. My wife would love to ride to work, but before that would be possible (one unavoidable stretch of bumper to bumper 60 MPH traffic) there would have to be enough people already making the switch. It's only a 12 mile commute, but right now it's not in any way practical by bike. Unfortunately, neither is public transportation. In the D.C. suburbs, you can go into D.C., and in a direct line to a closer in location, but it's damned hard to get to another location that's a similar distance from the city without going in and coming back out. For that to be an option, we'd be looking at probably a 3 hour commute with wait times, and several dollars a day. At 30 MPG, even $6 a gallon gas would be cheaper.

We have a Corolla (30 MPG) and a mid-sized SUV (18 MPG). We take the Corolla when we can. I'd like to get out of the SUV, but we're sort of burried in it right now, so we try to only drive it when we're carrying 4 bikes, 2 kids, and sometimes a dog somewhere, or on longer trips where I can nurse 22 MPG out of it.

For many people it's beyond impractical to consider cycling as a primary means of transportation.
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Old 08-15-05, 07:32 PM   #12
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Only a tiny fraction of people will abandon their cars for bicycles.

I was a boy during the gas crisis of 1974, and I don't recall any adult, that I knew, giving up his/her car for a bicycle. I do remember people buying smaller cars and people riding motorcycles to work -- including one of my teachers.

I do recall the fist fights and robberies at gas stations. I also remember the people who would speed off without paying for their gas, and how my father had to purchase a locking gas cap for his Ford because someone had siphoned the gas out while it was parked. Then there were all the "miracle" gadgets that were sold to desperate, and gullible, people that were supposed to improve gas mileage -- including water injection units! This is what you have to look forward to if gas prices keep rising.

If gas continues to rise in price, I'm planning on selling a water injection unit that will increase the gas mileage of any car by 786.765%! Guaranteed! I found the plans for this device in my late grandfather's attic. My grandfather had obtained the plans during his WWII army service in Germany. The plans were found in the bombed-out ruins of the Volksreichs Politeknische Institute of Düsseldorf. This device was the brainchild of the famous German scientist Horst von Schwinnler -- who was also responsible for inventing instant beer powder. My grandfather kept this secret his entire life because he knew that the international oil companies had sent out agents to retrieve the plans and kill anyone who knew about them. I know it's risky, but I have to do this for the good of America.....and my bank account.
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Old 08-15-05, 07:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cruentus
If gas continues to rise in price, I'm planning on selling a water injection unit that will increase the gas mileage of any car by 786.765%! Guaranteed! I found the plans for this device in my late grandfather's attic. My grandfather had obtained the plans during his WWII army service in Germany. The plans were found in the bombed-out ruins of the Volksreichs Politeknische Institute of Düsseldorf. This device was the brainchild of the famous German scientist Horst von Schwinnler -- who was also responsible for inventing instant beer powder. My grandfather kept this secret his entire life because he knew that the international oil companies had sent out agents to retrieve the plans and kill anyone who knew about them. I know it's risky, but I have to do this for the good of America.....and my bank account.

Hey, I remember reading about a similar device in Popular Mechanics...sells for $399.
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Old 08-15-05, 08:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by barenakedbiker
Hey, I remember reading about a similar device in Popular Mechanics...sells for $399.
Really? Well, the guy selling that thing is a charlatan. My water injector is the real deal and only costs $378.47.

Let's see, how many would I have to sell to buy that new McMansion, Hummer, Mercedes, Lamborghini and a couple of 10,000 gallon underground gasoline storage tanks?
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Old 08-15-05, 08:30 PM   #15
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i heard on the radio today about some nut that modified his Prius to get over 200 mpg...
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Old 08-15-05, 08:40 PM   #16
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i heard on the radio today about some nut that modified his Prius to get over 200 mpg...
My bicycle gets at least 15km/liter of bicycle fuel on the weekends, and that fuel (i.e. the beverage of moderation) is renewable and all natural.
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Old 08-15-05, 08:40 PM   #17
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Hey, I remember reading about a similar device in Popular Mechanics...sells for $399.
I remember that too. That was a LONG ! time ago.
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Old 08-16-05, 07:08 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Mostly agree. But think it is a mistake to talk focus on exclusive bicycle life or to set up the cycyling model as only for Spartans and Thrifty.

Cycling would be better compared to sking or golf:

1. the equipment is not cheap
2. there's always new gear
3. thrifty does not sell in USA. Most people have a good bike and good accessories. What's your commute peer group?.
4. If we set the garage sale bike as the ideal model, then very very few of the people momentarily ticked off by gas prices would every consider cycling. Most people in US want style with their commute vehicle.
5. The combo sales pitch of
a. better health,
b. save on auto/truck [suv] expenses
c. not as hard with the newer bikes
d. there's an active support group to help you learn what you need to know.

That has a small chance of success. Even with all that, of my immediate family group. Only one other would consider a bike and gas would have to be about $50 a gallon or new home would have to be very bike friendly for any consideration of biking.

Let me congratulate you on your economic analysis of the impact of gas prices on the overall cost of driving.

I think if it came to that, public outcry would be for public transport like buses. People whom I know seem to regard me as a freak of nature when I talk about doing a 50 mile ride. The average individual has no idea how easy it is for a reasonably fit person to travel by bicycle.
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Old 08-16-05, 07:31 AM   #19
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I accidently voted $4 because I misread the title. I think more towards $8/gallon will begin to force the average driver to start riding 2 wheels instead of 4. However, I don't think that necessarily means bicycles. I don't think prices will ever be coming back down under $2/gallon. The oil companies have tested the water, consumption hasn't dropped. I believe in 2003 Exxon posted triple profits (not revenues, profits) even though they cited increased production costs being the main reason for the rise in prices.

As long as fast and/or large cars are considered status symbols, they will still be bought. You won't see P. Diddy riding up to the MTV awards on a pimped out Madone 5.9 anytime soon, if he did, I'd be willing to bet that Trek would see an increase in sales larger than any of the last 7 years (Lance's impact).

Many people took their job when gas prices were cheap, $1.00 - $1.50/gal, they never expected prices to get this high and are in a position where moving work or moving home isn't an option. For many, neither is purchasing a new(er) car, even if it gets better milage.

Until the cost of hybrid technology reaches a point where the choice between gas only and a hybrid is $100-$500 (i.e. Civic vs Civic Hybrid), most people won't adapt.
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Old 08-16-05, 08:18 AM   #20
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I would love to commute on my bicycle ( I already ride my motorcycle to work at least two days a week to save on gas) but to get to work and not take restricted access highways would be at least 40 miles each way, so at this point it just isn't practical for me.
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Old 08-16-05, 08:23 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
What we should be shooting for in the short term is "driving" folks toward purchasing higher MPG vehicles, and in the long term coming up with alternative fuels.
Traded in the SUV for a sedan this past winter (17mpg -> 26 mpg), and I'm scouting bike-friendly routes to work this week. Had there been a 'now' option in the poll, I think that's what I woulda chosen. And I'm an "average car driver."
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Old 08-16-05, 08:33 AM   #22
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One other thing I wanted to add...

The majority of the new "bike to work instead of driving" will generally be 16-25 year old males. This also happens to be the age where insurance costs are the highest. Also, this demographic are also the majority of the minimum wage, part-time workforce.

In Michigan, minimum wage is $5.15/hr. The average car gets 25mpg, and the average commute is 12 miles to work. That means 1 round trip is roughly 1 gallon of gas. Gas prices have topped $2.60 for regular here, which means a half hour of work is required in order to commute to work. Assuming 4 days/wk and 5 hours shifts...

20hrs @ 5.15 = $103/wk * .75 (for 15% taxes) = $77.25/wk take home
$77.25 - ($2.60 * 4 [gas]) = $66.85/wk ($267.40/month, $3,208.80/yr)

The lowest I've heard someone paying rent/boarding at school is $250/mo.. which leaves $17.40 for food and other expenses.

I'm just on a rant now. I'll stop.
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Old 08-16-05, 08:39 AM   #23
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I remember that too. That was a LONG ! time ago.
Last month?
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Old 08-16-05, 08:49 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by 'nother
Instead they'll vote for politicians who will promise lower gas prices, or look into public transportation
If a politician promises low gas prices, make sure you vote for the other guy/girl because he's not telling the truth. The Republicans are stuck in supply side economics in believing that tax breaks for large multinational oil companies will bring more fuel into the market. It won't. Democrates believe that energy conservation and forcing auto makers to bring more economical cars into the market will do the trick. It won't.
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Old 08-16-05, 08:51 AM   #25
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Its disheartening that so many people even in the biking forum can't imagine a world without cars.

Hey, somehow the human race got along without them entirely for a few million years!

The 3 main objections to bikes: Cargo, weather, and distance can be addressed with imagination.

* Distance: We created "urban sprawl" in our hasty rush to separate the haves from the have-nots in only about 30 years. We can ondo this damage in another 30. People WILL move -- they do it all the time!

* Cargo: Plenty of options for extending bike cargo capacity. Also think in terms of multiple people-powered vehicles or "bike-pools". Some motorized "van" bikes could be used for large-scale deliveries.

* Weather: Cars would be totally impractical without the billions of dollars that we have spent on smooth, asphalted roads. A covered bike route could be made for a fraction of the price of even a basic road.

I'm not thinking of a bike-only world, but of a bike-centric world. One in which there may be a mix of powered vehicles (bulldozers, construction machines-- possibly with Stirling technology), animal powered vehicles (genetically enhanced, extra muscles and/or limbs) and/or lightweight transportation devices (dunebuggy-like vechicles for the rich).

Here's the thing: WE WILL RUN OUT OF OIL! Maybe in 200 years. Maybe in 50. Personally I think in 20, since older models assumed 3rd world countries coming online slowly rather than explosively as we see happening. We can attempt to address this problem with war, poverty, and dissolution, or we can address it with imagination.

Alas, human nature being what it is, I fear that it will be the former and not the latter.
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