Effects on US if citizens boycotted driving for one year.

I don’t think I’ve ever posted in GD, so be gentle, please.

I’m neither an economist nor fossil fuel expert. I’m hoping to learn much from this hypothetical. Assume near 100% compliance with the boycott. To the best of their abilities, folks figure automobile workarounds.

How does this alter the complexion of our world? Domestically? Internationally?

NB: The idea for this thread popped into my head as I packed my paniers for this weekend’s bike tour. Promise I’ll return Sunday to absorb your erudition.

Um, if you live outside of a few central cities, I hope you’re on good terms with your local farmer…

Most goods in this country are moved via truck, largely from Los Angeles/Long Beach. Additionally, as I’m sure you’ll note, most food is moved via truck from rural areas to the rest of the country.

So, I will take a step ahead of you and assume your statement applies only to civilian driving, not industrial, military, or commercial.

First of all, that whole Los Angeles place? San Diego? Probably Miami? Wouldn’t exist anymore. While I assume that some of the larger, denser cities could resort to mass bike and mass transit options…

Well, I have this theory of “1”. “1” is the furthest distance you travel daily - the distance to work, the distance to college, etc. Every other distance is relative to “1” - if a grocery store is farther away than “1”, it is “too far away”, and if closer, is “I live by it.” I developed this theory as a pedestrian/mass transit rider, going from Oakland/Berkeley to San Francisco. I noticed that my previous “1” of maybe 4-5 blocks in Berkeley turned into a 45 minute train ride and two 10 minute walks. Suddenly, I was much more willing to go further distances.

Now, applying that theorum, “1” would, overnight, become a very short distance for millions of Americans. :wink: Cities would shrink, basically. Their carrying capacity would become smaller. If you’ve ever played city-building strategy games, like Caesar, you’d know that the life of a city is based on proximity to goods and services. In a larger, denser city, one market serves more people. When they have to walk too far to the next market, they just get pissed off or move. And lower your City Rating, which is a bad thing.

We would certainly be traveling less.

Well, the general gist is, regionalization. You’d probably see local politics being more important again :wink:

In general, it would cripple industry, destroy society, put a chokehold on the economy, devastate cities…

Probably would be a lot less pollution, though.

It might be interesting if the ban only includes cars. Public Transportation, busses, trains, and shipping can run. Your ‘1’ wouldn’t change that much in a metro area.

The country would probably collapse. America is oriented around personal transit. Even in cities where there are decent mass transit options, most people still use their car to get around. Cities in the southwest especially rely heavily on personal transport. Albuquerque would essentially die…as would Pheonix and most of the other southwestern cities I can think of.

lol…too funny. :slight_smile: But true…very true.

I live 12 miles from the nearest grocery store, 25 miles from where I work and 75 miles from the nearest public transportation. If this is voluntary, count me out.

On the other hand, I do live on a farm. If y’all want to get something to eat, you can figure out how you’re going to get out here to my place. :smiley:

What would be more reasonable is to slowly phase in eco-friendly changes to how we do things.

I’m not talking about the “recycle your inkjet cartriges here” movements, we have to start looking at MAJOR things we can do in our daily lives to help the environment so that (sadly) we can at least kill our planet at a slower pace than we are today.

We’re not even anywhere close to really fixing up the planet. Hopefully with some green friendly (and I’m not talking about $) movements our kids and grandkids will live in a society that gives a rats ass about our planet instead of talking about the problems on the cell while we drive around in SUVs.

I’m with clayton_e in believing that it is not very useful to consider “if pigs could fly” hypotheticals. It makes more sense to consider hypotheticals that have some grounding in reality. [This whole thing reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit from many years ago where they discussed the implications of “What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?” with an aviation engineer and a historian.]

I think it would be much more useful to consider what would happen if we weaned ourselves off of automobile use to some extent over a period of many, many years.

One might also ask the (slightly) more realistic question of what if people actually responded to the current spike in gasoline prices by reducing their driving by, say, 20% (through car-pooling, more use of public transportation, walking, and biking, …), and buying more energy-efficient cars when they made their next vehicle purchase.

[QUOTE=choosybeggar]
To the best of their abilities,** folks figure automobile workarounds.**

How does this alter the complexion of our world? Domestically? Internationally?/QUOTE]

So. You working on a Mr. Fusion? :wink:

So, aside that this just isn’t going to happen, what would the effect be?

Lower gas prices for one. Nations that export a lot of oil are going to be in trouble.

Theoretically, I could commute by rail every day, myself.

It would add a full hour to my commute, each way, and approximately thirteen dollars in cost.

Anyone else done a calculation?

Are you assuming some sort of magical intervention? Or are you assuming that we have to find real solutions to our travel problems?

We might be killing ourselves along with other forms of life, but the planet will survive very nicely without us. :wink:

I’m sure your time figure is accurate, but the money figure might not account for savings by either not needing a car or by driving it less. In accounting terms it’s roughly .33/mile to run a car, right?

It costs me $8 a day to park my car near work, plus gas and maintenance costs. It’s a $5 round-trip bus ride, and the bus stops two blocks from my house. The bus takes about the same amount of time as driving.

So, I’m fantastically lucky. It’s easier, cheaper, and not slower to take public transit. The vast majority of people can’t say that; at my last job, there was no ready access to public transit–the nearest bus stop was over a mile away.

The rising cost of gas feels like something they do in the Bay Area to convince people to use public transit–they have planned highway reconstruction which will take years to accomplish, create massive traffic jams, and, in the long run, have absolutely no effect on how many cars the freeways can accommodate. However, while the construction takes place, a certain percentage of the drivers will switch over to public transportation because it avoids the traffic jams…

A friend of mine felt a great many health, resources and pollution issues would be solved by taking away all the cars and replacing them with bicycles.

Another felt that, one month a year in rotation, everybody should have to ride a motorcycle. It would reduce the number of cars, increase parking space availability, and kill off a lot of stupid, rude people.

Every time I see this kind of statement my memory goes back to pictures of industrial cities in the early to mid 1900’s. I think we have made tremendous progress since then. It’s not that I don’t think we could make additional improvements, I just think some ppl loose sight of how low the bar was when we started.

Now as for the OP, if we still had an economy that was based on ppl reporting to work at a local factory it might work for metropolitan areas. But unfortunately the bulk of the day’s travel only starts once the commute to the office has been acheived for a large % of today’s workers. The telephone and e-mail still have not replaced the value of a personal visit to your client for the vast majority of service providers.

Not to mention the ppl that live in smaller cities or rural areas where mass transit just doesn’t exist.

Nah, averaged it in, rule-of-thumbwards. Train ticket and a subway ticket. Maybe ten bucks more, but still more.

That was the intent.

Yes, it’s voluntary, but in the Jedi mind trick sense. You’d be on board.

Yes, it’s more reasonable. Current gasoline usage trends in the US defy reason, however. IMHO, we maintain a tricky, costly foreign policy, a vast private automobile road system, and an immense industrial infrastructure all because as long as most of our memories go back, that’s how things have always been done.

We dream of a replacement for the gasoline-powered auto, that will continue to fulfill our needs for convenience and freedom. This dreaming underscores our understanding that gasoline is not forever.

Nevertheless, political and social inertia resist phased-in change. Changes in energy policy are inevitable; preferrably, as you state, phased-in change. But what if change is precipitated by crisis, like this boycott. Pandemonium is an obvious beginning. As the panic fades, where does a wealthy nation, ripe with innovators, end up? Would the shock be too great for the nation to absorb?

You’d probably have your answer if prices rose to the $4-$5 dollar per gallon range.

No magic. Simply crisis, shock, followed by either implosion or recovery. AFAIK urban sprawl is not the only model for geographic organization of a society.

That’s the spirit :slight_smile:

Gotta get back to work. Be back later with a few ideas

PS My tour this weekend was 135 glorious sunny California miles