Ford on Gas Prices, Electric Focus and Congestion

On NPR this morning, William Ford explained why he advocated a gas tax. His explanation of market forces speaks to my comment yesterday that people will not self-limit in the face of perceived abundance.

Then he went all Disney, talking about massive electric infrastructure, reserving an urban parking space before your trip and cars that will send a message to other cars that there is congestion ahead so those cars can find another route for their drivers.

7 replies
  1. Tom Armstrong
    Tom Armstrong says:

    It’s amazing how fantasy so often interferes with reality, isn’t it? What happened to people recognizing that their car doesn’t automatically get them from point a to point b within a set number of seconds as determined by “If the speed limit is 45, I can do 50 the whole time I’m on that road” thinking? The reality is that one’s point to point average speed will be far closer to 30 than 50.

    My own daily commute of a bit less than thirteen miles covers about six miles of a 45-mph road, about five miles of which is four lane plus turn lane. If I drive the car instead, it takes me between thirty-five and forty minutes. It takes me fifty-five minutes or less on a bike, unless I’m hauling stuff by trailer (like the 40+ pound Raleigh three-speed I carried home last night, pulled by the new commuter rig…). I think that took an extra ten minutes, and I had gone an extra mile in distance to avoid some hills and traffic.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      I’ve found that short distance trips are faster or as fast on the bike as in the car. Traffic lights are the great equalizer, I can see the same cars for several blocks, sometimes they stop and I don’t because the light changes as I get to the back of the queue. My trip times are much more affected by which lights I get green than how fast I ride.

      Traveling to downtown Orlando takes about 5 minutes longer by bike (riding really slow), but the ability to go directly to my destination and not have to find a place to park and then walk from there makes the bike trip as fast or faster, and much easier.

  2. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    “Today, in major urban areas, the majority of fuel is spent by people looking for (car) parking places.”

    From circa 5:20. I’ll believe a lot of fuel being wasted, but a majority?

  3. khal spencer
    khal spencer says:

    He’s not kidding about the interesting question of infrastructure.

    Somthin’ on the radio a couple days ago to the effect that oil is hitting 100 bucks a barrel again. With Libya in full scale civil war and most of the other Sheik Yerbouti types in the middle east listening to footsteps, oil prices could get worse before getting better. If they ever get better. Between geopolitics and Peak Oil, I see no relief for Mr. and Mrs. Jones and their Chevy Suburban.

    If we go to electric cars, someone has to figure out how to put a penny behind every fuse in the fuse box when we all plug in our car at once. Do the math on replacing barrels of oil with kilowatts. Even if we build more stationary sources (coal? nuke? megasolar?) and put up small scale solar and smart grids, we will need to expand the distribution system.

    In 2007 we imported about 3.65 billion barrels of oil. If a barrel of oil is equivalent to 1700 kilowatt hours of energy, we import about 3.7 billion barrels per year, and burn about 2/3 of that for transportation, then that is about 4 billion megawatt-hours. The present U.S. electrical capacity is about 4 billion megawatt-hours, if I did my math correctly. So we are talking about roughly doubling our electrical consumption and distribution requirements by replacing all gas cars with electric cars. That is obviously an extreme calculation, but it kinds points out the problem. It is a severe undertaking, and shows what we have gotten used to in terms of gasoline requirements for our private SUV force.

    A buddy of mine who walks dogs with me in the morning, a retired U.S. Marine who drives a pickup truck, quipped recently that we should have an ordinance mandating that all houses have solar panels on the roof. Not exactly your typical snotty nosed liberal saying that any more. Now that is progress.

    • MikeOnBike
      MikeOnBike says:

      In theory, a lot of those electric vehicles will be charged off-peak, when there’s excess capacity. And the fleet won’t be converting to electric all at once, or completely.

        • MikeOnBike
          MikeOnBike says:

          I think that’s the point. The vehicle chargers would be timed to run in the wee hours, turning the currently-underused “off-peak” capacity into the new peak.

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