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Rising gas prices and curing obesity

January 7, 2011

As most people who read this blog know, most of my training/cycling/riding is done to and from work on a lovely commute through West Houston. I love riding to work to save money on gas and to stay fit.

John Hoffmeister (not necessarily a reliable source) is back in the news recently with the rising gas prices.  Gas prices in the US are averaging over $3 /gallon again, which always gets the media talking about when it will go to $5 (magic voodoo number?!?!).  Hoffmeister says sometime by the end of 2012, although I think it might more like 5 years down the road.  This could pose a huge problem for people, especially Houstonians, who love driving in rush hour traffic and consider it their favorite hobby and pastime.

Another huge problem Houston has is obesity.  Houston is a fat city, and most people I come in contact with are overly fat.  It doesn’t help that Houston has some awesome restaurants and terrible public transportation. The car is king in Houston, and sprawl is the right-hand-man.  There is an upside: sprawl leads to lower house prices and cost of living.  Cities like Houston and Dallas, have much cheaper house prices and some of the worst traffic in the US because people will live in the cheaper suburbs and commute to the city for work.

Eventually, I believe that gas will become so expensive that it will be more costly to live far away from work and drive a long distance than it would be to pay more for your house and walk, ride the bus, or bike.  This will cause people to walk and bike more, getting more exercise, leading to less obesity.  Parents would make their kids walk to the bus stop and catch the bus, or ride their bike.  Cars could be reserved for trips longer than 10 miles, for average people.  I think people will eat out less as well, adding to calorie frugalness.

I had no vacation to take off between Christmas and New Years, so I was stuck in the office while 90% of the people were gone.  The thing I noticed the most was how great my morning commutes by bicycle were. There were almost no cars on the streets!  There was no traffic, so the drivers of the cars and I were both more at ease.  I hope this is what it is like in the future, when more people leave their cars in the garages and bust out the bike to travel 3 miles to work.  This would also lead to less roadways being built and less upkeep due to less demand.

So, riding your bike is like killing 5,000 birds with one stone!!

People for the most part will not ride their bikes to work anytime soon.  But, at what gas price ($/gallon) would YOU consider alternate transportation (BIKE, bus, walking, vanpool) to get to work or school?  Take the poll below!!

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