Gas Price-More Bike Commuters?

In 2008 when gas prices were at their highest, we had seen the biggest increase in our readership as well as bike commuters on the road.

With all this talk that gas prices are expected to burst through the $4.00 per gallon mark by the end of summer, I’m left wondering if people will take to the streets again on their bikes or will people simply adjust?


13 Comments

  1. John Romeo Alpha March 8, 2011 6:53 am 

    So far, my straw polling at work indicates no–people are already paying $15 per day for gas for commuting in their SUVs, and seem unbothered enough by $20 per day to not consider alternatives like cycling or public transportation. Some are considering telecommuting, however. “Work from home occasionally” appears more popular than “ride a bicycle 40 miles round trip”.

  2. Janice in GA March 8, 2011 7:55 am 

    I’m hoping it will get more people on bikes, but for where I live, I’m not really too hopeful.

    40 miles round trip would be a heckuva commute on a bike, though.

  3. Tony Bullard March 8, 2011 8:16 am 

    In ’08 it hit hard here in Atlanta. We had a mini gas scare. I didn’t see more cyclists, but I did see A LOT more folks on the bus/train.
    I think bike commuting is not something you stumble into. It’s a pretty big decision. The only people who I would even suspect might go, “Maybe I’ll try bike commuting!” are people who already ride their bikes often. Most adults I know don’t even own a bike, so them going from zero to chamois is pretty unlikely.

    Of course, I’m in Atlanta, where most people live 20-30 miles from their work (myself included…stupid move).

    Also, even though I did see an increase in train/bus riders, it went away as soon as gas came back into town. It was still expensive, but available. When it does this kind of slow march towards more expensive, people just adjust.

  4. Ghost Rider March 8, 2011 9:08 am 

    I’m with Tony — while interest in bike commuting certainly increased during the last gas “spike”…at least as far as media reports indicated…I didn’t actually see more bike commuters. It IS a big decision, and unfortunately too many people have chosen to live far enough away from their workplaces that using a bicycle is a pretty big hurdle.

    “Going from zero to chamois” — I LOVE IT!!!

  5. Robert Guico March 8, 2011 9:10 am 

    I’m tempted to say that people just adjust… but holy cow, 20-30 miles is a long way to live from work. (I picked a town that was 10 miles from 3 major potential employment cities to live in… and this was even before I considered biking to work regularly! I ended up taking a job in a fourth city.)

    For a couple years I did the 70-mile roundtrip commute to downtown Chicago with my wife. The train was out because parking at the destination was free (file under: price incentives do matter!) but my wife practically went crazy, even though I do Chicago driving pretty well.

    My personal opinion is that as gas prices go up *and* median income stagnates (or falls), like it has been for the past ten years, more families are going to fall from “just making it” into “financial crisis”. Switching to a bicycle-centric lifestyle just might make a difference. But odds are they’re not reading the blogs and news sources that we read on a regular basis.

  6. db March 8, 2011 9:19 am 

    “Work from home occasionally” appears more popular than “ride a bicycle 40 miles round trip”.

    This is the prevailing attitude here. We’re having a meeting on Friday to address scheduling and reporting structures so that folks can stay at home more often.

  7. Franky March 8, 2011 10:37 am 

    We were considering switching to a 4 day/10 hour per day work week but the owner of the company didn’t want to go for it…he is old school. Nobody wants to ride their bike to work…too dangerous around here in highly populated NJ. Just me.

  8. Nic Nelson March 8, 2011 10:58 am 

    The buzz in LA among professionals and creatives is more often about telecommuting and trying to give up transportation altogether. “The World Is Flat” attitude. However, I think Robert Guico is right: desperate times will call for desperate measures like bike commuting, at least for a percentage of people.

    Carpooling is already fairly common, those who can do it mostly already do. Trains are already a popular option where they are available (we have high-quality trains & track, but a vestigial network that grows like coral– in odd directions, beautifully, and very slowly). Buses have mostly blue-collar appeal and are full to capacity during peak demand (probably half the time they are running, sometimes more)… little room to grow there, since LA is committed to electric and PNG-hybrid buses, and our budget crisis won’t let us indulge in those right now.

    The only easy room for expansion now is bike commuting and telecommuting. We’ll see which way things break!

  9. Ghost Rider March 8, 2011 1:03 pm 

    @Nic — LA County just committed to building a TON of bike-friendly infrastructure, too…so things are looking up for bikey folks there.

  10. Elizabeth March 8, 2011 2:23 pm 

    I’m hearing the buzz from the more fair-weather cyclists in Chicago that they’ll be back on their bikes soon. :-)

    Gas prices here are already over the $4/gal mark for premium.

  11. Rider March 8, 2011 3:26 pm 

    When the last great gas spike hit Tallahassee, the Florida capital, we did see a few more folks on bikes.

    The bus system saw first-time riders, too.

    Long term, the increase in ridership has been slight.

    A second round of $4 gas? That is going to chance people’s view. Some will say, we’ve done this before, this is the new normal. Others will say we can’t do this anymore … we need to try something new.

  12. Dacius March 9, 2011 8:59 am 

    I got one of those boycott Exxon e-mails the other day. I responded to all (about 20 of my co-workers and friends) with… “I will boycott everyone of them. How about that?”

    HAHA!!! I honestly have no idea how much gas prices are right now. Is it 3.89?

    Must suck to be stuck to 4 wheels. HAHA

  13. Jaime Roberto March 9, 2011 2:20 pm 

    I’ve definitely seen more bikers on my commute in the SF Bay Area, but I don’t know how much is due to gas prices, how much is due to the (hopefully) improving economy, and how much is due to the longer days. I suspect the longer days are having the biggest impact.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *