Save on Gas - Alternative Transportation
With gas prices climbing and the impact of the BP Oil Spill to consider, we need to think about alternative ways of getting around other than the regular old automobile. Here in the United States, as of the date of this publishing, the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded is near $4.00/gallon.
In Europe, people pay much more for a litre of petrol (which, by the way, is less than a gallon). We are all aware of walking, biking or riding mass transit to work. But if you're not in favor of these tried and true methods, what else can we do in this day and age?
Although this article was written from a humorous standpoint, the reality is that we seriously need to consider ways of getting around that do not require gas! Whether you can commit to walking, riding the bus or biking is up to you. But do give it some thought.
Many Have Considered Alternative Transportation to Save on Gas
Fortunately, there are some very creative inventors that have considered this question, long before we have! In fact, in the early 1900s, a "sail wagon" was invented. All you need is a really windy day and some strong arms to steer the contraption. This would be ideal in Chicago and other similar cities!
Perhaps this contraption doesn't, er, "float your boat?" Well, there are many other ways of getting around by human-powered energy. No fossil fuels required. Some don't even require electricity, either! Have you seen the road vehicle that is completely human energy driven? Check it out in the video to the right! The biggest challenge is getting together a great carpool group of similarly minded individuals. This ought to make heads turn at the office.
You might be more of a loner. Maybe carpooling in the 21st century is not for you. Then you may want to consider a human catapult. For relatively short and straight commutes (as a crow flies) you can put together a contraption that can fling you at least 100 yards towards your work or the grocery store. Return flight not included. Can you stomach it?
In all seriousness, there are many inventive options for traveling that you may not have considered. Read on for more ideas...
Scooter-type Options for Alternative Transportation
The Segway Human Transporter was unveiled with great hype in 2001. Steve Jobs claimed that "IT," as it was formerly known, would be as important an invention as the PC. Obviously, since many people do not even know about it, the Segway has not lived up to such hype. Nonetheless, if you are looking for a creative way to travel around town, you may want to consider this device (shown on the right). It travels up to 13 mph, and has a range of 8-12 miles. It runs on a battery-powered motor that is recharged by plugging into an electrical outlet. Just stand on the platform and lean forward to go - lean backwards to back up. Perfect balance is not required, as it self-adjusts with gyroscopic sensors. It may not be good for Grandma, however, as the Segway lacks brakes!
For an even more thrilling ride, you can travel on a wireless remote controlled electric skateboard! Be sure to wear a helmet with this beauty. You control the board at speeds up to 22 miles per hour from a digital wireless remote control. Some (but not all) models have electric brake options. I'm thinking that if I got one of these, there would be an automatic "break."
My favorite of these options is the Zappy Pro Electric Scooter. Like the Segway, this baby can move at up to 13 mph, but it has a longer range. Zappy can travel up to 24 miles without a recharge. It also runs on a battery-powered motor. For trips to the store or school, there is a convenient basket in the front. When the sidewalk gets a big congested, just honk the horn to get people to move out of your way! One small drawback, however, is the resemblance to a child's tricycle. Look at the big guy to the right. Its just not macho.
The coolest ride of these is definitely the Personal Hover Scooter. Check this thing out! The New York Times declared it a "miniature flying saucer with handlebars." Getting around on this device could definitely be hair-raising. You are literally hovering above the ground on an air cushion. An engine powered fan lifts the hover scooter above the ground, while air exiting the back vent propels it forward. Make it go faster by leaning back - you can move at speeds up to 15 mph. Oh, and it can be yours for only $17,000!
Cool Cars Can Help Save on Gas
At least for the next few years, it could still be economically feasible to drive a car. You will want to think about shifting to a hybrid, or at least a very small car that merely sips gas while enjoying impressive gas mileage.
For one of the latest models that is expected to hit the market soon, explore the model created by Venture Vehicles. This is a 2-passenger, three-wheeled car that is said to have the capability of delivering over 100 miles per gallon, at over 100 mph. It will be powered by an efficient hybrid propulsion system with amazing acceleration: 0-60 in less than 6 seconds. Once this car is available, you should be able to purchase one for approximately $20,000. Two hybrid options will be available: regular HEV and a plug-in electric hybrid model (PEHV).
A little too futuristic for you? Then how about the 100% electric Chevy Volt? It is a slick looking ride! Unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2008, this model is unlike other hybrids. It is entirely powered by batteries that are re-charged by either plugging it into an electric socket, or by a small gasoline engine. The time is almost here when we can commute to work in a car, without using any gasoline. The corporation hopes that it will be available in 2010.
The Smart Car Can Help You Save on Gas
One hopes that the "SmartCar" will get a bit more intelligent and add some plug-in or other hybrid options for consumers.
Currently, however, this tiny car is very fuel efficient for a regular "gas" vehicle. It can travel at speeds up to 90 mph and boasts highway mpg of 40-45 (in town 33-40 mpg). Only 2 passengers can fit. Groceries, optional.
Other Inventive Options of Alternative Transportation
Working out while you commute is also an option if you have to travel across a body of water. Check out the human-powered hydrofoil in the video below! Absolutely no batteries and no gas to make this thing move. Your sack lunch might get wet, though. Maybe a kayak would be a better choice after all.
When its time to take to the friendly skies, maybe you need not fasten your seat-belt and put your tray in the upright position. You can simply fly yourself to your destination with a jet-pack. Think about the thrills you could have. "It's a bird, its a plane.... its a man with a jet-pack!" Surely this device uses much less fuel than an airplane. Your insurance costs may outweigh any savings, however.
For a little more down to earth experience, consider the "Go-One3." This is an encased reclining bicycle that protects its rider from the elements with a windshield. It features headlights, a taillight and turn signals! 100% human-powered, you need not worry about batteries dying or stopping by the gas station. A great alternative, the main drawback appears to be the cost - starting at nearly $11,000.
Fly with a Jet Pack!
What Would you do to save Gas?
Now that high gas prices are here to stay, what are you willing to do?
Tried and True Methods of Saving on Gas
To save on gas, its easy to overlook many of the basic methods that have been around for decades or longer:
- Mass transit (bus, subway, tram, train, etc.)
Many workplaces offer incentives for employees who use these "green" commute options. This may include a discount on transit passes, carpool parking, or even lower health care premiums for walking or bicycling to work regularly.
It is time to get creative in our decisions concerning personal transportation.
While some of the options discussed in this Hub are unusual or even outrageous, we may not be laughing as hard when we get our monthly fuel bill, or when we hand the cashier a $100 bill to fill the tank of our compact car.