I rode from my office to a listing I am marketing the other day – all told it took me about forty five minutes, round trip – and added about 15 minutes to my traveling time. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I saved gas, burned a few calories and hopefully led by example a little bit. Biking around Charlottesville has provided a very different perspective to the one I had before – different sights and smells – I noticed the relatively large number of backyard gardens in Belmont for one.
While biking certainly isn’t feasible for all of my trips – showing property for example – my new bike rig (
above below) does allow me to cut down on a few miles almost every day – and that’s not too bad.
Seth Godin’s post, Times a Million, was a seminal post for me, and I have referred to it often since he wrote it.
Notice the lack of “times a million” math.
If we figure that the average driver in the US does 20,000 miles a year, I’m going to use about 400 gallons of gas. A car getting 20 mpg is going to use closer to a thousand gallons. Figure that there are about 100 million actively driven cars in the US, which means that the net difference if “everybody did it” has the potential to save 60 billion gallons (600 times 100 million) of gas. A year.
No, this isn’t a pitch to switch. It’s a pitch to describe how amazingly difficult it is to market that story.
The guy above who’s not going to switch from his Explorer to an Edge because it will only save him $300 a year is clearly not going to be interested (never mind moved) in the thought experiment above. It’s too distant. Too far away.
A lot has changed in the year since he wrote that post – gas has increased a bit – and buyers and sellers have become more cognizant and aware of what things cost.
Think about it – what if we all went car-free one day a week, or rode a bike to the coffee shop or did something without driving – even once a week?
Neil at the Free Enterprise Forum asks – $4.00+ Gasoline – High Enough to Make You Move?
I think that for some and perhaps many, the answer increasingly is going to be – absolutely.
There are plenty of discussions ongoing right now – one of which is whether a streetcar could be part of the solution. On this, Dave Norris is on point –
Mayor Dave Norris and Councilor Julian Taliaferro both said they want to hold off on the study and wrap it into the larger examination of how to remake transit in the area. The city and county are hoping to get the General Assembly’s permission next year to form a regional transit authority.
“I’m intrigued by the idea but I think it is a very expensive proposition,” Norris said. “So we have to make sure it is financially feasible and see how it will fit into the broader transportation network.” (bolding mine)
We need regional solutions – and as people look to bike and walk places – Realtors, planners, politicians and the rest need to recognize this.