GAS ATTACK From The Bike Boy


Gas price in Boise
In a bizarre twist of fate, Boise currently (as of 4/24) has the lowest gas prices across the Fruited Plain, according to www.gasbuddy.com .Gas Pump.jpg

Even more bizarre – neither the governor’s office nor the mayor’s office has taken credit for our unusual good fortune.

You can bet some gas company mid-manager is taking the heat for not upping the local out-of-the-spigot price. That ain’t right! The local motorists have to do their part to pay for the retiring Exxon CEO’s $400 million golden parachute. I expect the “problem” to be fixed within a few days – a week at the most.

Also interesting to note – nobody is calling for an Attorney General’s investigation into the disparity in gas prices! And transplanted Californians aren’t lamenting that they can’t pay Rodeo Drive prices to gas up their Hummers and Jaguars.

Good-mileage vehicle snobbery
I haven’t seen much of it here locally yet, but apparently in many big cities, the people who can afford to drive a Toyota Prius or a Lexus Hybrid SUV are driving around with an air of superiority, and writing letters to the editor, criticizing the unwashed masses who aren’t doing their part.

I can identify! I abandoned my car for a bicycle long before it became fashionable – in January 1985. (Nearly 110,000 bike miles ago, and coincidentally, 110,000 mpg.)

A couple notes of clarification are in order. The Missus has a mini van that is available for the occasional local errand, if I grovel appropriately. It would be difficult to operate in society, at least in our wide open western spaces, without motorized wheels. But I haven’t driven a car to work – even once – since September 1987. And don’t misunderstand – I’m not a 42-beats-per-minute, 3-percent-body-fat type, like Lance Armstrong. I’m a middle-aged fat guy.

Besides the obvious economic benefits, bicycle-commuting makes me feel superior in every way to the pathetic slugs in their motor vehicles. (Especially the would-be macho guys, driving to work alone with their sack lunch, in a Hummer or a huge Dually Turbo-Diesel pickup. I recollect the theories about middle-age guys who drive Corvettes or Porsches, to make up for… um… “deficiencies” in other areas.) When I come up next to a Prius, if the window is down, I belittle the driver on account of his terrible fuel mileage! Is it OK for me to ride around with my nose in the air?
Bike Nun.jpg
One thing more pious than a Prius is a Nun on a two wheeler! Bike Boy took a lesson from Bike Sister in Italy…it’s all religion to us.

The annual bring-’em-to-their knees boycott.
I got my first one for 2006 today, in the e-mail. (Strangely, from a friend in Meridian who obviously doesn’t recognize our good fortune on the gas-price front.)

The passed-along, passed-along, passed-along message is encouraging me to help tame the two rampaging oil giants – Exxon and Mobil – by only buying gas at other outlets.

Silly! (Snopes has an explanation why it won’t work. http://www.snopes.com/politics/gasoline/gasout.asp If you’re thinking it’s a stroke of economic genius, you can also get 5 or 6 versions of the letter that’s circulating. Get to e-mailing!)

Liberals and conservatives are united in demanding that the gubmint do something about the spiraling gas prices. Obviously they’re too young to remember the last gas pricing fix, in the early seventies. In the case of the conservatives, they’re deluded somehow into believing the economic principles of supply and demand don’t apply to fuel, like they do to everything else. As long as people are willing to pay $3 for gas, don’t be surprised if it costs $3. If you won’t pay $3, the newly-affluent Chinese will pay more than that, as they pursue The American Dream.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Yur a commie!!!

    Seriously though, I sold my car last summer and have been bike commuting ever since. It’s not that bad when one lives within three miles of work and Winco. I know many people don’t have it that good, so I don’t feel too superior over drivers. I just get pissed when I have to deal with aggro drivers who refuse to share the road.

  2. I too have gotten rid of my commuter vehicle, but not nearly as early as you (just a year and a half ago). I do have access to my wife’s car on rare occasion (groveling also required). I think the best thing that has happened for the planet is higher gas prices. For the first time in recent history consumer gas usage is down.

  3. I also bike commute. Although I do drive with my family. I live in an older neighborhood in South Ada and my one wish is that there were better bike routes to use. Everthing is fine once you make it near downtown, but try riding in from Victory and Five Mile!

    I once read about a “Tour De Sprawl” event where riders in mass rode through sprawl. There were stops along the way to talk about overcrowed schools, private parks (for residents only), and poorly planned infastructure. Roads were shut down and this REALLY showed where the cars were comming from and the need for bike friendly roads and mass transit opportunities! “Tour De Sprawl Idaho” anyone???

    EDITOR NOTE–You need to call “Team Dave” and get the leader of the pack to join you.

  4. Atta boys all around for you conservatives. I also admire your cajones for pedaling amongst all the aggro drivers in Boise.

    I’m pretty smug about our old, small, by currently escalting standards, well insulated home. Compared to the huge castles currently in vogue it only sips petroleum and electricity.

    Our septic system is particularly efficient too. Just feed it a few microbes and political by product- – – No need to pump or mechanicaly treat and seldom is there a need to haul and spread- – -Energy efficient organic solutions at their best.

    Too bad most politicians can’t emulate our sewer and dispose of more “waste” than they generate.

  5. junkyard dog
    Apr 25, 2006, 9:11 am

    Yeah, I have to agree that high gas prices are absolutely the best thing that has happened to our country because it will force people to think more efficiently in terms of where they live.

    I know several people who are building in Melba and Star because of the “cheaper land” but are now paying upwards of $800 a month in fuel costs. Does that waste just make you want to puke or what?

  6. Agent Whynotski
    Apr 25, 2006, 10:04 am

    Don’t knock the hybrids until you drive one! When one drives a hybrid car, it is easy to understand there is more than one benefit to these vehicles.

    Besides cutting emissions in half (http://www.fueleconomy.gov ) driving passenger car hybrid vehicles also has the ability to reduce speeding and aggressive driving when drivers their mindset and shoot for the highest mileage possible. By keeping tabs on the mileage meter, one quickly learns how to maximize the fuel economy as it is better to maintain the speed limit than to push past 65mph and race with all the wannabe Indy 500 drivers on I84. When making the commute from Canyon County to Ada County, the flat terrain is ideal for getting more mileage per gallon. With an average of 49.8mpg, I cannot complain too much about filling up the tank when gas is $3 a gallon. Besides the benefits of fuel economy, hybrids have the ability to reduce noise pollution as the gas engines turn off at intersections and stop and go road conditions.

    BTW, if you shop around, you can find used hybrids available for under $15k. The more people buy hybrids, the cheaper the technology will become for everyone.

    Personally, I enjoy biking and walking versus driving when I can make that choice. I enjoy living in an urban setting where I have alternative means to getting where I want to go. But I also understand how unrealistic it is to expect everyone to bike or walk when land and property is being developed with the driver in mind. The beauty of hybrid technology is that you still get the roof over your head for the snow, rain, and burning heat, but you are using fewer resources and reducing pollution.

    The next time you pull up to a Prius, you should thank the driver for being considerate enough to own a smaller vehicle that makes it easier to share the road with cyclists and pedestrians. You should also thank them for caring enough about air quality and noise pollution because everyone benefits with reduced emissions. If you see Prius drivers with their nose in the air, just remember they have to see around all those super-sized gas guzzlers still out on the road. When biking, you may want to keep your nose in the air too, as it may be your only way to get fresh air until more drivers wise up to the benefits of hybrid technology.

  7. In some areas there is the city bus…and the bus drivers sometimes will stop at the bus stops – and sometimes they don’t, so one waves as they pass and either wait for the next bus or start walking.

    Now bikes. Bikes in Boise. Bikes and how the drivers in Boise do not see the bikes – even though they appear to look right at the cyclist. And what you do when the bike lane you are riding in vanishes?

    I was a bike rider in Boise thirty years ago, before the spandex rage hit the area. At that time I used to ride with my two young daughters. Shoot, I used to ride when I was pregnant with the oldest and then with her on my back. We would ride from one end of town to the other. Up and down Capital Blvd. Drivers were fewer and traffic was slower then. (I won’t even mention the cell phone thing). As bad as drivers were then (I have had a few “driver” related accidents) I must say that I do not even take my grandkids out biking. I may if I lived in the North End, but I don’t anymore. And now, riding is really scary. Hats off to the brave of heart who continue to ride to work.
    As for you who drive…when you park on the street, take a look in your side mirror before openning your door. The biker you smack could have a child on their back.

  8. Let’s see if I understand this.
    1- Explore for it
    2- Find it
    3- Drill for it
    4- Pump it out
    5- Transport it
    6- Refine it
    7- Transport it
    8- Sell it
    Bitch because it is $3.00 a gallon

    As opposed to:
    1- Hold a plastic bottle under it
    2- Transport it
    3- Sell it
    Don’t complain at all that it is $5.00 a gallon
    I guess there really is a difference between gasoline and bottled water.

  9. I drive my Suburban for its intended use, recreating in Idaho’s back country. But I commute on my bike which isn’t easy when the demands upon your profession obligate the white shirt and tie. But its do-able.

    I don’t have to spend money on a gym. I don’t have to buy as much gas and maintenance costs are lower. Saving money at the doctor’s office. And I’m no longer growing out of my pants. Cell phones can help resolve any unintended delays. But these are few and far between because I find I’m nearly as fast on my bike as I was in the car, even faster when traffic is thick.

    So at the end of the day I occasionally have time and money for happy hour on the way home. And I don’t have to worry about having that third beer.

    I pity the fools that save a few thousand dollars on their homes in Canyon County when they work in Boise. If they added the costs of the commute in time and money they would see they are not getting a good deal. I think about them and smile smugly every morning when I hear the traffic report.

  10. I have not owned a car for any major period of time for the last 30 years. I’ve been halfway around the world ( and am making plans to see eastern europe and asia now) Since my 31 year and when at home I use mass transportation and walk, everywhere I go. Walking is one of the best exercises and cheapest and as I walk I think about the money I’m saving on a car,insurance , licensing fees,gas,repairs etc,etc.etc.and what I’m going to spend that savings on… Of course I don’t have a family, but I think even for those with a family there are better solutions to transportation than a gas guzzling SUV… and what a great way to teach your children about valuing their resources ( especially not polluting their environment) by teaching them to use mass transportation as often as possible and getting a family car that combines practicality with high gas mileage.

  11. Dang, I knew my fellow Guardian readers were a smart bunch! We apparently don’t burn much gas. (Riding a bicycle in Boise is a pretty safe prospect, almost everywhere. Unless you’re ridin’ stupid, people will NOT deliberately run into you… believe me. It’s just a question of getting accustomed to it. Driving a car once seemed scary… remember?)

    You Hybrid drivers may need to recalibrate your Smug-O-Meter after reading the following. (Or maybe not… it’s statistics, and pretty much ANY point can be made with statistics.)


    (from US News & World Report, March 31)

    “Trying to decide if you should buy a hybrid to do your bit for the environment? The decision just got more complicated.

    “A new study [by consulting firm CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, OR] shows that over the lifetime of a vehicle—from the moment it is conceptualized at a design studio until it ends up in the scrap heap—hybrids actually consume a lot more energy than even big SUVs. One reason is that hybrids contain more moving parts than conventional vehicles, which require more energy to manufacture and process. In addition to an internal combustion engine, for instance, hybrids also have an electric motor and a sizable battery pack. That adds to disposal costs, too, once the car has run its last mile—especially for the lead-acid batteries.”

    Prius – $3.28/mile. That compares with $.60/mile for a Jeep Wrangler, and $3.30/mile for the honkin’ huge Ford Excursion. (Scion xB is best, at .48/mile. Maybach is worst, at $11.58/mile. Ouch!)

    Of course, that includes all the socialist touchy-feely stuff, not just the cost of getting from Point A to Point B.

    (Source: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/060331/31hybrids.htm )

    Regarding that drive from A to B, although hybrids indeed get better fuel mileage, since they cost $2-3K more to buy, it takes about 7 years of normal driving to recover the purchase price difference. (Maybe less, if gas keeps going up. But that will also increase demand for hybrids, which will tend to drive up the purchase price.)

    EDITOR NOTE–More units will also dilute the R&D and mfg costs for each. Nothing wrong with a pious Prius proprietor.

  12. Steve, You don’t have to be “ridin’ stupid” to be hit by a car in this area. I had a friend riding along and had her front spokes caught by the rear bumper of a truck…after a long recovery she and her husband sold their little business called George’s Bikes – but that was a long time ago. George’s started out in the shed of their home and was named after a biking friend. She did not ride stupid.

    I have a friend who used to bike from his home near River Street to his work in Eagle – people would wave him on at intersections just to turn their head and decide that they could run into him. He stops now and refuses the polite wave ahead.

    Perhaps drivers do not hit bikes on purpose, but they do hit them without the fault or the stupidity of the bike rider.

  13. Agent Whynotski
    Apr 26, 2006, 9:00 am

    Gotta love the fact you like to counter opinions when you can, but when you counter your own opinion, you take muckraking to a fine art!

    http://www.edmunds.com/advice/specialreports/articles/103708/article.html This article does a better job at articulating who benefits the most from these vehicles and how they benefit. Also, google searching “batteries” pops up many articles regarding new technologies being developed for hybrid batteries that make them safer and longer lasting. I also ran into numerous battery recycling centers in my search. Go figure.

  14. lib.Redneck
    Apr 26, 2006, 9:31 am

    So, let me get this strait. I should buy a new car to be more environmentally friendly?

    Hey, are there any hybrid lawnmowers for all those landscaping companies? How about some hybrid jets to help those soaring fuel costs? Should I look for hybrid wakeboard boat owners scowling at me for running my little smoking two-stroke trolling motor?

  15. HH – I used to hang out with your friend at Georges-in-the-shed, off Warm Springs near the base of Table Rock. My father bought my sister a sweet little Stella (France) 10-speed out there. (The original “George” was in the UK, as I recall.)

    I absolutely agree that there’s some risk to cycling. You’re much more vulnerable on a bicycle, than you are in your cage. (For you non-biker types, that’s your enclosed motor vehicle. “My other bike is a Harley-Davidson.”) To survive you need to ride defensively and assertively, and be as visible and predictable as possible.

    In my 21 years of dedicated (5000-6000 miles per year) riding in and around Boise, I’ve had 3 accidents with motor vehicles.
    1) I didn’t see an approaching car, due to a big truck that was blocking my view, and rode into its path. It clipped my back wheel. My helmet saved my life – I hit the pavement pretty hard. I was back riding later that same day. (I got a failure-to-yield ticket and a wake-up call.)
    2) A lady rear-ended me at an intersection. (Super low-speed collision; we were both waiting for the light to change, and she inched forward into me. Says she was distracted by her crying baby.) Bent my wheel, which she replaced.
    3) A happy-go-lucky teenager clipped my back wheel at an intersection in downtown Boise, when she ignored the stop sign. (God was watching out for me that day – if I’d been 1/2 second slower, I would have probably gone through her windshield. As it turned out – no injury, except maybe my vocal cords from expressing my disapproval. She was VERY apologetic and bought me a new back wheel. Hopefully she had a wake-up call.)

    Despite the potential for problems, I would NEVER voluntarily go back to a cage, for my local transportation needs. I’m willing to live with the risk factor, which is far outweighed by the physical and spiritual rewards I derive from my cycling.

    Oh, there I go again! OK… I’ll get off the soap box now.

  16. Agent Whynotski
    Apr 26, 2006, 12:26 pm

    As for bike riding in Canyon County, it is safe if you can stay on one of those fancy new subdivision greenbelts and do not plan for leaving your neighborhood. Otherwise be prepared to be forced into traffic because sidewalks are not developed to accommodate handicap accessibility let alone make things safe for other pedestrians, bike paths on major thoroughfares are non-existent, and drivers of trucks and cars race through intersections forgetting to yield to the right of passage for pedestrians and cyclists. It wasn’t too long ago this situation forced our police force to set up sting operations in hopes to bring awarenes to drivers about sharing the road.

    lib.Redneck – I do not know of any hybrid lawn equipment, but there is solar-powered lawn equipment available. There are also electric models available in which you could power from solar energy. They even make some electric models with a remote control and others can be programmed to mow on their own. And just as the bicycle is human powered, so is the “old-fashioned” lawn cutter I saw on sale at Fred Meyer’s for $99.

    I read somewhere that hydrogen fuel would be a better alternative to fueling jetliners and Boeing is actually investigating the feasibility of such a venture. Solar-powered boats and battery chargers are being developed and some items are currently available. And as for your trolling motor, you could limit emissions and leaks of oil or gas from getting into your fishing pond and into the fish you eat if you would just use a paddle.

  17. Love the topic! Personally, I commute on a scooter (80mpg) or a motorcycle (43mpg) or a bike.

    Will get on the bike as soon as I get the bum knee fixed. What frosts my a** is the lack of two wheel parking in Boise. You will get a ticket if you share a metered space in downtown Boise with another cycle. Anyone want to get about 50 two wheeled commuters and meet up early one Saturday and park one cycle to a space and see wat happens?

  18. john,
    Another scooter rider and I were talking about the very same thing. We would love to get a “park-in” (or park out) going. Perhaps it would need to be done more than once, but hey…sounds like a fine reason for a ride.
    I am getting about the same mpg.

  19. HH,

    An early Saturday before all the Saturday market shoppers arrive would be cool. I’d like to surround City Hall with one bike in each parking spot.

  20. John, messing up the parking for the Market would bring about more attention and the voices would be heard in City Hall! City Hall parking during a week day would be nice, but not on a week end.

    We were talking about filling up street parking around the market and perhaps taking a lot of the “first hour free” parking in the parking garage. That would be upsetting to a lot of folks who go to the market.

  21. HH,

    I’m up for an event. I’ve already been to city hall on the parking issue. They don’t want to budge. Their excuse for ticketing multiple parked cycles in metered spaces is that you could get the domino effect if one of the bikes went down.
    I think they need a dose. How do we get started?

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