When $5 in the tank doesn't cut it

Cars stranded on the side of the highway are starting to make waves in the media.   People who are already trying hard to make ends meet by doing simple things like carpooling or stupid things like aggressive hypermiling (including intentional tailgating and failure to slow down adequately through cornering maneuvers) are still running out of fuel on the road.   Today, I encountered one of them.

Out of gas

Squarely stopped in the middle of one of the few bike-friendly roads between the urban core of Kansas City and my little slice of suburbia was a Ford minivan with the driver digging a 1-gallon fuel jug out of the back and preparing to make the hike to the nearest gas station.

I have my own theory on this phenomenon, and it has to do with people who never really fill up their fuel tanks — and at $4 per gallon around here, you might not blame them.   These folks are used to putting $5 or $10 in their tanks, and they know how long it usually lasts.   The problem is that over a relatively short period of time, the amount of fuel $5 buys has fallen 25%, and so has the distance that these motorists can travel for that same $5.

People are still making the wrong sacrifices in order to sustain their driving habits. Many are giving up their summer vacations. Some are eschewing the food that they enjoy.   As fuel prices continue to rise, the logical solution is to simply use less fuel.   Despite all the hypermiling hype and hybrid car hooplah, the easiest way to cut back on fuel costs is to drive less.   For those who find yourself here because of fuel costs and making ends meet, here are some tips for driving less and saving more by using your bicycle:

If non-motorized transportation is out of the question, here are a few other quick tips:

  • Plan an efficient route and run multiple errands at a time.
  • Buy non-perishables in bulk and go shopping as infrequently as possible
  • Car pool or use mass transit if it’s available in your area. Some companies subsidize transit costs.
  • Ask about periodical telecommuting or working four ten-hour shifts per week

Are you seeing more cars stranded because of the fuel crunch.   Do you have any other tips for saving a few bucks by driving less.   Let’s hear them!

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