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Thread: The Impact Of $10/Gallon Gas

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    The Impact Of $10/Gallon Gas

    We have had discussions and threads that touch on "peak oil", less available black gold, increasing pump prices, etc. Not sure if anybody saw some of the prime reasons for this first-half of 2008 spike.....a declining USA dollar and speculators cornering. Yeah, Indian and China (and a host of others) have standards of living that are now gobbling available crude.....but that gobble action didn't start in January, 2008. It has been increasing for at least a decade.

    Whatever the reasons.....some folks with impressive credentials have predicted gasoline at the pump in the USA reaching $10/gallon. Other experts downplay that kind of prediction, strongly hinting that the government would step-in long before petrol reached that level, possibly with price controls.

    This thread is not about the reasons. It is not meant to provide a political platform to bash our President, oil companies, those overseas who provide the USA economy with oil, those of us who drive SUVs, big exurban lots, etc. Do that bash-attack in a different thread. This thread is for an intelligent discussion of "the impact of $10/gallon gas". If those who predicted that big spike are only half-right.....gas at the pump still could reach the $6 to $7 range. Let's discuss the impacts of "really-high pump prices".....

    Just Getting To Work
    The phrase most often heard in my workplace, as the pump prices have soared, is this: "If it goes much higher, I can't afford to drive to work." There is a lot of truth in that statement, especially in locales that are relatively spread-out and lack public transportation. As our USA cities and metros grew, many of the places we work spread to the outerbelts. If petrol at the pump reached really high levels, there is no way most communities are going to be able to "grow" their transit systems in a short period of time. Viable transit systems......even as simple as transit busses.....require investment, time, regulatory involvement.

    Good time to invest in corporations that manufacture transit busses.

    My company has almost 160 employees, a very-typical size for an American business. Because of the different start times, car-pooling would have a minimum impact. One thing I can do is to at least make it easy for folks to be aware of car-pooling opportunities. I plan to, at the very least, post names and addresses of those "who would be interested" in pooling.

    My guess is that another impact will be a change in schedules for many workplaces. Look for more organizations asking their staff to work four 10-hour shifts instead of the traditional five 8-hour shifts. If that biz needs to operate 5-days a week, "skeleton" crews will be in on certain days. That will put pressure on managers who have to develop the schedules AND continue to meet the demand of their customers.

    Good time to invest in supervisory training, time management training.

    Neighborhoods near big industrial workplaces or big office parks will see increases in population. Folks who moved away from their workplace ('burb flight) will now try to move closer, even if it results in people re-filling those places that emptied. And if a family who (fortunately) finally sells their outer-ring suburb home heads back into the inner-ring or the central-core city, will they have the wherewithall to invest in another home......or will apartment dwellings on the edges of central-core cities become HOT properties?

    Hitchhiking
    When this Bear was a young dude (calling Mott the Hoople ) hitchhiking was popular. I did it all of the time, every day. Never had a problem, always was picked-up, nothing bad ever happened. But our world changed and nowadays if you see a hitchhiker it is only because the local police have not noticed him/her yet.

    Will hitchhiking come back? Can it be regulated (and I usually dislike too much regulation)? A hitchhiking card and a hitchhiking sticker, perhaps. Indicators to the hitchhiker and to the driver that you both have "license" to perform this deed?

    Trash Pick-Up
    To save fuel costs, will communities look at trash pick-up service every two weeks, instead of every week? In warmer climates, will that create undesirable conditions? Are there opportunities for trash compacting at the home, with some scenting agents thrown-in?

    Grocery Trips
    When I was a young dude the regular Saturday event was a trip to the grocery store. There were very few small purchase trips to the store during the week. Oh, how that has changed. Will it revert back to a single trip? Will your own private grocery cart be stored in your garage and on grocery day you WALK to the store, pushing your cart? (Not talking about the carts ripped-off from Kroger's, lined-up outside that apartment block on Main Street. )

    Internet Purchases
    Purchasing on the internet is already a huge business and continues to grow. High pump prices will "fuel" even more growth of web buying. Look for local and state governments to develop methods to track those purchases so they can get their share of the spend.

    Good investment opportunity: Those who provide the goodies that UPS and FedEx and the others use to operate their business. Trucks, conveyors, scanning tools.

    The Cottage Up North
    Places that are hundreds of miles from population centers and count on vacationing city-dwellers will be hurting. The success of places such as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is measured by "visitor counts". Those who do make the trip (and spend the big bucks at the pump on the way "up") will find campgrounds that have plenty of openings. But they will also find many small businesses shuttered.

    Your Swimming Pool
    Look for folks who still have discretionary income will place a swimming pool in their yard. Their new "vacation" now involves their pool, their grill, and the neighbors "down the alley".

    Motorsports
    Will the Nascar fan base still drive hundreds of miles to distant tracks? Will snowmobilers in the Great Lakes still drive hundreds of miles to race around the north woods, with combustion-engine vehicles? Will those who own "stinkboats" (motorboats) convert to "rag-baggers" (sailboats), because they love the water but can't pay the pump price at the dock? Investment opportunity: New technologies, such as batteries, that power the "toys" that we use.

    Walking To The Local Bar
    Probably be a good time to own a neighborhood bar. Good times or bad times, many folks head to the tavern. A tavern that can be walked-to will be successfull in the days of $10/gallon gas.
    _____

    There are so many other "impacts", big and small. I have just thrown-in this post a few. You have many more to add.

    What say you?

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Good time to invest in companies that manufacture two-wheelers.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Bear, the one major impact that you didn't mention has already been seen is that the cost of EVERYTHING is going up. Groceries, cup of coffee, pizza, yes I just noticed those are all food related but I'm sure there are durable goods that have gone up significantly too.

    Will WalMart and Sam's reap the benefit of people who typically shun those places for whole foods and Nieman Marcus?

    On a more personal note, I know my employer has already kicked around the 4 day with only essentials on Fridays, or rotating 4 day schedules so the office is always staffed at 80% even if gas gets above 4 dollars.
    @GigCityPlanner

  4. #4
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Our city is working on a sustainability policy before they sign the US Mayors Agreement. I'm the project lead on it, and over the last week got a ton of responses on our internal survey asking about a 4/10 workweek as a way to reduce their commuting cost.

    Rising prices make me happy I bought my motorcycle. I'm commuting about 4 days a week on it.

    Everyone talks about how much it costs them at the pump, but the impact is far greater for consumable goods due to transportation costs. This is especially true for those products that require lots of energy to produce (beef and most other meats, and their related products). Tack onto that retasking of farmland to produce ethanol as a response to fuel prices, and we've gotten ourselves in a bit of a pickle.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Interesting piece last night on All Things Considered regarding the shuttering of Linens 'n' Things, bankruptcies from a few other major places, downsizing.

    There's no doubt that the US is over-retailed in terms of strip malls, big boxes, "lifestyle centers," and so forth. As Bear mentioned, big switch to on-line shopping rather than storefronts. I think this will improve the general appearance and long-term economy...and perhaps provide job security for planners faced with redevelopment plans.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I have mentioned many times in the past that I do consider fuel prices to be a major 'wild card' in future land use and zoning patterns, even musing whether or not the conventional post-WWII 'strict separation of uses' zoning and development philosophy can survive at all with fuel prices in the range of $10/US gallon or $2.65/liter - and it's already that high in parts of Europe with fuel in the €1.65-1.70/liter range in Nederlands. Strangely, though, the biggest car-related transport problem in that country right now is severe traffic congestion, with border-to-border traffic jams on some of their major motorways a common occurrence, so you never really know.

    Look for major increases in the numbers of local zoning battles between developers trying to meet market demands for more housing units of all levels 'close in' and existing neighbors whom don't. I also agree with those whom are speculating about the luster falling off of those exurban big-lot 'HOUSE in the COUNTRY!!!' type developments, with some likely becoming the next slums.

    The entire concept of zoning is definitely going to change with such fuel prices.

    Mike

  7. #7
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I expect retailing, and the concept of "just in time" delivery to change significantly.

    Shipping costs are already going through the roof. Trucking deliveries all over the place is absurdly expensive, and I expect there to be many battles over significantly expanding our freight rail infrastructure (already happening in many places) and slowly changing to a model less reliant on coast-to-coast trucking, and more in using trucks as the last segment of a boat-train-truck trip.

    Of course, this will also open up many opportunities to bring some manufacturing back to certain regions, if there is an adequate amount of low priced labor and proximity to major rail lines to population centers and/or distribution centers.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    Hitchhiking
    When this Bear was a young dude (calling Mott the Hoople ) hitchhiking was popular. I did it all of the time, every day. Never had a problem, always was picked-up, nothing bad ever happened. But our world changed and nowadays if you see a hitchhiker it is only because the local police have not noticed him/her yet.

    Will hitchhiking come back? Can it be regulated (and I usually dislike too much regulation)? A hitchhiking card and a hitchhiking sticker, perhaps. Indicators to the hitchhiker and to the driver that you both have "license" to perform this deed?
    There already exists this thing, called "Slugging", in the DC area, which is a cross between hitchhiking and carpooling. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slugging)
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  9. #9
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    All food items will cost more, some astronomically so. I think we'll see a rise in peri-urban agriculture as food production gets forced closer and closer to its markets/consumers. Cyburbia will have an entire subforum devoted to Gardening & Urban Agriculture in another five or six years and my post count will soar as a result!
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    On the internet, on television, and on the street, people are constantly complaining that if (gas/food/mortgage/fill in the blank goes up) the won't be able to ___________

    What about saving money and living within your means? I am sick and tired of hearing about all of these families buying more house than they can afford, or splurging all of their income for discretionary purposes. So you spend 10-20 bucks more at the pump, big deal. It's not going to kill you, and if you are on the brink of being out on the street because of gas or food or something else, then you have a much more serious financial problem that you need help with.

    Yes, the cost of most goods has increased, but have they gone up 400,500, 1000 percent? Nope. So, you have to cook a few more meals at home, hold off on that home remodeling, or rent some movies. So you have to dump your money into CDs with horrible yields because the stock market is soo screwed up right now, but the economy will come back, it just might take some harder work on our part.

    Unforunately, the high cost of goods and the bad economy is still not teaching people to alter their spending habits. People would sell heirlooms before they give up their "needs" to make ends meet. I don't think this is going to change anytime soon.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    As we are looking at it now. We both drive about 50 miles a day in different directions. My children go with their father to his school. I was wondering if they could have the possibility of participating in the sports activities of our local school district. The after school activities just kill us. Running all the way back to the school or even across town to pick them up is just crazy.

    I would love it if they would go to a 4 day work week. There is alot of my work that I could really do at home. But people have become accustomed to just dropping in as they feel like it.
    If we had three days a week that they could come in and 2 days that I could work at home, it would make a big difference.

    I have no idea if carpooling would work at all. I am going opposite of the morning flow.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North;436956
    [B
    The Cottage Up North[/B]
    Places that are hundreds of miles from population centers and count on vacationing city-dwellers will be hurting. The success of places such as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is measured by "visitor counts". Those who do make the trip (and spend the big bucks at the pump on the way "up") will find campgrounds that have plenty of openings. But they will also find many small businesses shuttered.
    Great, now I am depressed. I always looked at it as now I can enjoy my cottage much more now that the yahoos are not ripping up the place on ATV's or clogging I-75 with monster trucks pulling gigantic trailers of 'toys.'

    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    All food items will cost more, some astronomically so. I think we'll see a rise in peri-urban agriculture as food production gets forced closer and closer to its markets/consumers. Cyburbia will have an entire subforum devoted to Gardening & Urban Agriculture in another five or six years and my post count will soar as a result!
    You will also see a rise in people stealing food out of your garden. In the early 80's we used to get our gas tanks siphoned on a regular basis before we put locks on the tank.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 05 May 2008 at 9:45 AM.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    Just Getting To Work
    The phrase most often heard in my workplace, as the pump prices have soared, is this: "If it goes much higher, I can't afford to drive to work."

    <SNIP>

    My company has almost 160 employees, a very-typical size for an American business. Because of the different start times, car-pooling would have a minimum impact. One thing I can do is to at least make it easy for folks to be aware of car-pooling opportunities. I plan to, at the very least, post names and addresses of those "who would be interested" in pooling.
    I have been halfway wondering recently if there is anything I can do to suggest to my employer that it would be wise to plan for the impact of Peak Oil. Bike racks might be a good place to start. If there are any bike racks at the building where I work, I have yet to notice them. But there sure is endless parking. I get the feeling these folks pay no real attention to this issue. I might want to get a bike sometime in the not-too-distant future so I can bike to work but I have no idea where I would lock it up.

    We did have a poll at work a few month ago asking if folks would like to go to a 3 or 4 day work week (four 10-hour day or three 12-hour days, I think). The overwhelming majority said "Absolutely!"

  14. #14
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Slight threadjack:

    Anyone in Ohio fully understand Strickland's new 8-5 policy, M-F? My understanding is that it basically does not allow a 4-day work week for most state employees. Is this for all local governments as well? I was hoping to convince my township to consider such a policy, but now I might be up a creek....

    Back on topic:

    I have my thoughts about a four day work week though, will people really drive less if they have more free time? Most people will use that time to drive other places. I would like to hope that $10 gas will allow people to see the benefits of rail transport and trails. Better bikeways and more shared transportation. But I am a hopeless romantic....
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    ......
    You will also see a rise in people stealing food out of your garden. In the early 80's we used to get our gas tanks siphoned on a regular basis before we put locks on the tank.
    Even that won't work anymore, in some places, people are crawling under cars and puncturing the tanks to get the gas out.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Duke Of Dystopia View post
    Even that won't work anymore, in some places, people are crawling under cars and puncturing the tanks to get the gas out.
    That’s right up there with those crooks who push the AC units off of buildings for the copper.....I remember many altercations and shooting back in the 70's over people getting caught siphoning gas.... not to mention the short tempers in the gas lines.
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  17. #17
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Flying Monkeys View post
    That’s right up there with those crooks who push the AC units off of buildings for the copper.....I remember many altercations and shooting back in the 70's over people getting caught siphoning gas.... not to mention the short tempers in the gas lines.
    But isn't the issue different now. I haven't heard of actual shortages pushing up the prices, but rather exploding demand worldwide.

    I don't think we'll see lines at the stations anytime soon.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    As all of this unfolds, one thing I'd like to know is what'll happen to communities located on waterfronts. Ours is on the Hudson River and was once an active port. Cities, towns, and villages up and down the Hudson have all bought into the idea of converting waterfronts from industrial to residential use. If water-based transport suddenly becomes one of the only viable transport options for us, what will we do if/when the need arises to tear down those condos, rip up the nice waterfront parks, and rebuild dock facilities on those sites?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    But isn't the issue different now. I haven't heard of actual shortages pushing up the prices, but rather exploding demand worldwide.

    I don't think we'll see lines at the stations anytime soon.
    Furthermore, demand in the US has softened. Refineries are not running at full capacity, most around 85%. The biggest issue is the falling dollar and hedging against inflation through the commodity markets. Remove the fall of the dollars international value and oil is still sub-$75 a barrell and gas is still under $3.00.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    Furthermore, demand in the US has softened. Refineries are not running at full capacity, most around 85%. The biggest issue is the falling dollar and hedging against inflation through the commodity markets. Remove the fall of the dollars international value and oil is still sub-$75 a barrell and gas is still under $3.00.
    Even worse, Iran has finally phased out the dollar for use in petroleum transactions. In other words, the Euro and the Yaun are on the rise. Expect the price of gas to skyrocket when we intervene in Iran. $10 gallon is not far off
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  21. #21
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I think people will seriously decrease the amount of discretionary driving that is done. My wife will wake up on a Sunday morning and randomly decide to drive to her mom's house 90 minutes away just to spend the day. Or we've driving to my parents house 3 hours there and 3 hours back in one day just to see them for a few hours.

    Those types of trips will go away. As will the weekend trips to the cottage, Chicago, etc.

    People are still going to buy $10 gas for trips involving work, school and shopping. Since very few places in the U.S. have viable mass-transit, people won't have a choice until we get our heads out of our asses.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    At what point will we actually see a demand for increased rail service? At $10.00 a gallon an awful lot of people will be priced out of driving. Whats going to happen to people who burn a few gallons of gas to get to their four hour minimum wage shift? Some areas could try to integrate better public transportation, but in rural areas it just doesn't seem efficent. I think we would probably see an end to people of limited means living in the country who have no tie to agrculture.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    At what point will we actually see a demand for increased rail service? At $10.00 a gallon an awful lot of people will be priced out of driving. Whats going to happen to people who burn a few gallons of gas to get to their four hour minimum wage shift? Some areas could try to integrate better public transportation, but in rural areas it just doesn't seem efficent. I think we would probably see an end to people of limited means living in the country who have no tie to agrculture.
    I think we'll start seeing more company run mass transit, such as an commercial area, office park or industrial park associations providing bus/van transit to the workers. There will be designated park n' ride spots. In non-retail environments, we'll see more 4/10 work weeks.

    City planning needs to take a serious look at 1/2 mile - 1/4 mile block planning rather than 1 mile superblocks. Politicians needs to be supportive of progressive planning options. They need to perceive (and study) the future rather than react to situation.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    How long before we start seeing liter pricing at USA gas stations?



    Mike

  25. #25
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    How long before we start seeing liter pricing at USA gas stations?



    Mike
    Addressed this earlier as unlikely due to cost of retrofitting pumps and state inspectors. Maybe they'll start pricing by serving size. That's worked pretty well for the food industry.

    Really having trouble getting my brain to work on this whole topic. Like BUN and several others, I'm old enough to remember the world before fast food, multi-car households, air travel as a commonplace, etc. I've worked in the oil & gas industry, the airline industry, local & regional planning, etc. and it's just too damn complex to deal with. It doesn't take a whole lot of investigation to know that ALL the easy answers (remove federal taxes, tax big oil, bomb another middle eastern country) and most of the complex ones (make everyone play nice in an international way) don't work in the short or long run. That said, my personal fall-back when confronted with complexity, is to reduce problems to a level that I can understand.

    So, what do I understand? Oil is not a renewable resource in our lifetime. Oil consumption is going up. Oil prices are going up. Oil prices drive up the cost of everything that needs to be transported. Everything I need has to be transported some distance. I don't have any oil wells. I can really only influence my own decisions in a meaningful way.

    So, what can/will I do? Mostly just learn to do with less. Less possessions. Less driving. Less living space. Less food that isn’t grown locally. More of some things. More research before buying. More reasons before making a shopping trip. Buy more when it makes sense and saves gas or money.

    I think quantity of life will suffer more than quality of life and that’s o.k.
    Last edited by ofos; 06 May 2008 at 12:00 AM.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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