Gas prices this, gas prices that. The historically popular small-talk conversation about the weather—which was water in 2007—has now turned its focus towards gasoline, and is not letting up anytime soon. Many North Carolina residents are taking note and using other modes of transportation rather than the automobile.
With an estimated national budget deficit of $482 billion and the economy in a fragile condition, it is good to see that North Carolina drivers drove 3.9 percent less miles in May than in the same month last year. The drop was from 8.86 billion miles in 2007 to 8.51 billion in 2008. This means that North Carolinians drove approximately 350 million less miles in 2008 than they did in 2007.
Let’s put some calculations with these numbers. If there are approximately 8.8 million people in North Carolina—24% of which are under the age of 18—that means there are roughly 6.7 million drivers (give or take a few youngsters, oldsters, and outliers). 6.7 milllion drivers drove 350 million less miles this May than last. Each driver in North Carolina drove about 50 less miles. This is a great start, and while Raleigh will likely never have the bike population of Portland or the subway system of New York City, we can be better about using public transportation.
Noticeably, there are more small scooters on the road this year than last. A new scooter shop will open on Hillsborough Street beside the existing shop late summer or early fall. More and more bikes are on the road daily. Bus ridership is up and more residents seem to realize that they can get to work cheaper and in more environmentally friendly ways.
Maybe we could drop this number again by May of 2009. What are you doing to decrease the number of miles you drive on a daily basis? We can be a progressive 21st century city if we try. Forget what all these polls say about being #1 in this category and #3 in that one, let’s not only talk the talk, let’s walk the walk (or ride any other form of lower carbon transport that gets us there).