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Old 09-01-2005, 08:32 AM   #1  
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Default Small Rant about US "gas" prices!

I've been reading a lot on these boards about people who aren't going to the gym, etc because of the US price of "gas". Just worked this out, since I thought, "Wow! They must have HUGE petrol prices over there!" Well, per gallon, the average US citizen pays LESS THAN HALF what we do per gallon! And I've taken into account US gallons differing and all that! LESS THAN HALF! I'm going to live in America, I could afford an "SUV" over there!

Keep on TRUCKIN!
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Old 09-01-2005, 09:01 AM   #2  
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We lived in the States for a year - and there are downsides to cheap gas! Firstly, everyone drives everywhere so much so that when the *eccentric* limey/Aussie students in our small university town would walk to uni (which we did - it was only 20 mins away!) people would pull up in their cars and ask if you wanted a job, assuming you were homeless or something because you weren't in a car! It got to be a pain. But the whole culture is about driving in a way we Europeans can't comprehend.

Second thing was, people over there really are generally more obese (or there's more of them that are obese) than here - because of the car culture. It really does them no good! But it's hard to walk everywhere in some towns or cities - as you do get pestered by people, if you even try it, as we found out! So that's the price they pay for cheap gas. Not worth it really, eh?

The other thing is, they need cheap gas - again, the culture is so different. I had British friends who'd lived over there years (and had green cards!) all of whom warned me that just because we *speak the same language, don't think it's England but bigger - the culture is as alien as if you went to Africa!* Most Brits go to Florida for a couple of weeks holiday so their knowledge of the US is limited to that very enclosed, holiday environment. But when you live and work there - by god it's different! I met a British black guy who told me when he got back to England and the plane touched down, he got off and kissed the tarmac - it was such a hostile place, it made him realise Britain wasn't as bad as he'd thought!

The distances are vast! People think nothing of driving 50 miles for a night out. We Europeans just don't live like that but I think brits and Aussies often assume the culture is like our's with a different accent. It isn't! Even the murders are drive-by - that's how much of a car culture it is!

We lived in a smalltown in the MidWest. Had a Safeways just like in England. We think of the US as more advanced than us, but it's a long way behind in many things. In the UK, we have only a few hundred miles between one end of the country and the other so we expect our supermarkets to have their shelves stocked. Have you ever gone into a supermarket and found the shelves empty of a total essential (I remember they ran out of nappies (diapers) one week - that would never happen in Europe!) We were horrified and then realised the distances involved - maybe their stock came from hundreds if not over a thousand miles away. The distances are incredible. If their petrol prices were like our's nothing would ever get done, believe me! (We also had interesting incidents like no water for 3 days *because a rock fell into the reservoir*. The school I worked in had computers so primitive and educational programmes for the kids on them so out of date we'd had better stuff 10 years before in the UK! We should realise how lucky we are to live in such a great country as we do - where everything is to hand and where you can walk the pavements without people assuming you're a hooker/bum/weirdo!

The fact their petrol is so cheap has a lot to do with the fact that they have a population over 300 million bigger than we have - so it's economy of scale. We couldn't fit another 300 mill folk into these islands, so we'll never have it so cheap. But having lived there, the disadvantages well outweigh the advantages, trust me!

I guess what I'm saying is - it's not justt he fact they've always had cheap gas so are shocked if it goes up a bit - but also it's a car culture like you wouldn't understand if you hadn't been there (and again most Europeans who have either just go to Disneyland or some big cities back East which aren't so different to here in Europe) - so it's also a very threatening environment for a woman to walk alone in.

My closest friends over there were other Brits, Aussies and some students from Far Eastern countries and we'd walk everywhere together, as the pavements and subways were so deserted that if you'd seen a man walking towards you, it would have been scary! So I guess many American women would find it quite threatening walking to the gym. Violent crime there is through the roof, too.

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Old 09-01-2005, 09:15 AM   #3  
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He he well put! I was just amused about how people were thinking that it was expensive, so I thought it would be astronomical!

Thanks for your informative post! I used to live in the country and all my nights out were 60 miles away! I actually managed to write off a car on the way home one night!

I guess we don't really appreciate how truly VAST America is at all. The fact that flying from one side to the other isn't a luxury, more an essential is a fair indicator!

I was reading "Fat Wars" and in it the author was talking about an island where people would offer you a lift if you decided to walk the short distance around/along/across the island because they thought you were too poor to afford a car! But they had all sorts of other wierd problems too, like eating turkey tails!
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Old 09-01-2005, 10:50 AM   #4  
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Right after I graduated from high school, petrol dropped to 98 cents per gallon in my hometown. I think that works out to around 14p per litre. Insane, isn't it?
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Old 09-01-2005, 11:00 AM   #5  
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LOL...I lived in the UK for a while, so I feel YOUR pain at the pumps. Phew! You guys get NAILED over there. It costs something like $150 for my friend to fill her Land Rover.

But bear in mind, though, that we've been very spoiled for a loooooooooooooooooong time. When I lived in Colorado in the late 1990s, gas was about a dollar a gallon. THATS what most of us remember. Also, like someone else mentioned, most of us have no way of getting ANYWHERE without a car. I live in a relatively large town, but to go to the grocery store, it's a 4 mile drive. Not to mention the fact that in order for me to get to school, I have to drive 45 minutes each way (for a total of 60 miles or so 5 days a week). The only way to get there via public transport would be to take an hour-long train ride into Boston and then transfer to another hour-long train ride to Worcester. After which, I'd have to walk about 15 miles. Which -- by my calculations -- means I would have to get up at about 1:00 am to get to my 8:00 am class on time. Unfortunately, we just don't have the public transport infrastructure you guys have. It's a bummer. But you're 100% right...I think you pay the equivalent of like $8 or $9 a gallons over there. And if that happened here, we'd probably have a second Civil War. Yikes.

I also wanted to add this: I had 2 friends visit me from the UK a few years ago. At that point I lived in an apartment on a relatively busy street -- sort of like an "A" road in the UK. My car was at the mechanic, and we wanted to go to the movies. So we walked. BUT there was no pavement/sidewalk. So we bushwhacked our way through shrubs and car parks/parking lots and people's front yards. We had to cross the road, and there was no zebra crossing/crosswalk. We stood on the side of the street for TEN minutes waiting to cross...and then put our lives on the line by just making a death-defying run for it. It was a bit like that old Atari video game "Frogger." AND, like someone else mentioned, 2 people stopped their cars and asked if we had broken down and needed a ride. A ride WOULD have been nice, but even out here in suburbia, my first thought was "No thanks. You're probably a serial killer."

Okay...this is about the third time I've edited/added to this post . ANOTHER thing, most Americans just haven't BUDGETED for this rise in prices. Just look at New Orleans right now. People couldn't AFFORD to leave the city. If they were even lucky enough to have a car, they could not scrape together the $30 or so they needed to fill their gas tanks. There was a report last night on CNN about people in coastal Mississippi -- in a town where 20% of the people live below the poverty line -- of people before the hurricane BEGGING on the streets for $20 so they could get out of town. The area hit by Katrina is one of the most poverty-striken areas of the US. And people who live on Welfare don't get their checks until the last day of the month. Katrina hit on Aug. 29th. Survivors and a sheriff's deputy in the town said if Katrina had hit September 1st, more people could have afforded the gas needed to get out of town. And fewer people would have died. And this is BEFORE gas prices got so out of hand. Can you imagine? DYING because you don't have gas money? Yes, there were some people who stayed because they'd survived Camille in 1969 and thought they could ride out Katrina safely, but many, many, MANY people could not afford to leave.

We're just SO dependent on our cars. TOO dependent. And about all some people's cars were good for down there was something to stand on when the waters rose.

By the way, I've driven out to see my Mom in Colorado a few times. It took 36 hours of drive-time. She's 2,100 miles away. I think 36 hours of driving from London might get you to Istanbul or Moscow. That's the kind of distances we're dealing with over here.

Okay. No more editing. Done now.

Last edited by LovesBassets; 09-01-2005 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 09-01-2005, 11:17 AM   #6  
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When people complain around here when the gas first started going up last summer, when it hit $2.00 a gallon, people were complaining. And all I could think about was "Well, you do know they pay close to $10.00 a gallon in someplaces in Europe. Stop complaining and take the bus sometimes."

I do live in an area that has a pretty decent public transportation and people look at me like I have 2 heads when I tell them I take the bus. "But you guys have 2 cars, why would you take the bus?" In my neighborhood you could walk to the store in about 15 minutes and nobody does, they all have to drive.

Nobody lets their children walk to school any more. The school is less then 1/2 a mile away and the parents "Have to" drive them to school. No wonder we are so fat in this country.

My parents live in a very rural area in Kansas, which is in the center of the US. They are retired. The closest grocery store is about 20 miles from their home, and that's just a country store. The real grocery store is about 40 miles away and they make a monthly trip into town to stock up on groceries. They have 2 chest freezers at their house that they keep stocked up. It's not fun for them.

I live in Maryland, on the East coast. To get to their home, it takes about 20 hours driving straight through.

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Old 09-01-2005, 11:50 AM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LovesBassets
By the way, I've driven out to see my Mom in Colorado a few times. It took 36 hours of drive-time. She's 2,100 miles away.
I drove from upstate New York to Los Angeles a few years ago. 2,680 miles in 40 hours, which broke down to 5 days after stopping at a hotel every night. I'm never doing that again!
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Old 09-01-2005, 11:54 AM   #8  
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Hi, I just thought I would add to your discussion here. I'm American, married to a Brit. We lived in London in 2000, so I know both sides of the pond. There have been a lot of really good points made in this thread!

In London we didn't have a car (though through some quirk of fate we had not one but TWO parking spaces at our flat), so we took the buses and the Tube, or walked. The infrastructure was there, and only occasionally did we see the need for a vehicle. In those instances, we just called a cab.

We now live in San Diego, and the transportation system just isn't here. We have a Trolley system that runs through downtown--but not to outlying areas. We would have to drive 10 miles to get to the nearest Trolley stop. Our bus system is slow and unreliable. Thankfully we live about 4 miles from my husband's office, and he bikes to and from work. I do what I can around our home on foot.

Keep in mind that distances in America are vast. Your entire island--counting Scotland and Wales, and adding on the "mass" of Ireland--fits inside my state (I live in California). A drive from London to Edinburgh is about 8 hours, and gets you into another country. A similar drive from San Diego to San Francisco is also about 8 hours--and doesn't get you out of the state. In fact, you still have to drive for 4 hours just to hit the California/Oregon border! My sister now lives in Pennsylvania, and is 3000 miles away. She is closer to *you* in the UK than she is to *me* in the same country!

I agree that we are waaaaay too reliant on our cars. I wish I could walk more. I wish there were more places to walk to. I wish it were safer. I miss being in London.
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Old 09-01-2005, 11:56 AM   #9  
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Yeah you guys have it both ways I s'pose. Cheap gas, but more distance to go and bigger cars too! I can't imagine not having any footpaths so you couldn't walk even if you wanted to!

I'm sure it's a status thing too! It's wierd, people (over here too) drive to the gym to go sit on a stationary bike for an hour. Cycle to work!!!!! Save the earth and money and your bum! Everyone's happy!

It must be really sucky to live right out in the sticks though, miles away from anywhere! I thought it was bad living in Yorkshire, where anything "big" was about 20 or 60 miles away!
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:03 PM   #10  
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I posted this a week or so ago in our "Southern" support group but it applies here too.
Quote:
Quote:
The South "has the highest level of sprawl," he said. Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Birmingham, Jackson and other of the region's metropolitan areas are growing outward. Cars rule. Pedestrians are figments of the past.

Developers "build cul-de-sac type subdivisions. People can't walk to school, work or church. You have to get in the car and drive to go anywhere," said Glendening. "As a result, there is a reduction in physical activity."

Many suburbs are built without sidewalks, he said. There are no neighborhood stores in these communities and schools are usually distant. End Quote



To respond to 2 posts at once: That's what I loved, loved, loved about London. I think I only got in a car twice in the 9 (winter) months I was there. I walked a lot of places and then took the tube or a bus others but there was still a walk from the station to where I was going. I have seriously thought about moving to downtown Chatt into one of the loft/condos they're putting in just so that I could walk out my front door and go somewhere without getting in a car. I'm lucky now in that I live in a really old (read dilapidated) area of town where there are still sidewalks and people do actually walk down them (unfortunately they're mostly crackheads ), but I would really like to live somewhere that I could walk to get my groceries etc. London caters to that type of thing. There's a little market on just about every major street corner that has things other than chips and candy so you can just pop in on your way home from work and pick up some fresh stuff to make for dinner. That's the real reason that people in major metropolitan areas (NY, London, Paris) are skinny - they're either eating in overpriced chi chi little bitty portion restaurants or they're only buying as many groceries as they can carry home at once.

I had a friend-who is just now learning to drive at 30-visit from London and woke her up to see if she wanted to go with me to breakfast. She said no that she would just walk out and get something later. I had to remind her that there wasn't going to be any walking out to get anything to eat unless she wanted to brave life and limb walking down a freeway (I lived somewhere else at the time). She couldn't believe that anybody could live that way. She also made the comment that Europeans are always talking about how fat Americans are but that if the food was as good in the UK as what she ate here everybody there would be fat too.
Virtually the ONLY people in the US that don't have cars and drive everywhere they go either live in a major metro area with good public transport (DC, Chicago, NYC) or live in abject poverty. It's really true that 95% or more of the people walking down the street where I live are either homeless, crackheads or their car just broke down Even carpooling isn't a really meaningful option for most people. I don't live close enough to anyone going the same way to make it worthwhile.

From what I understand the majority of the people that were killed by Katrina were those who either didn't have a car or couldn't afford to go anywhere in it if they did - and therefore didn't have any meaningful chance of evacuation. I often campaign for higher gas prices around here, and believe me that earns me a lot of friends. Maybe if it hurt a little more to drive 100 mi each way to work there would be a lot better public transport. The lack of which is one of the reasons for poverty around here. If you are limited to a job that is within 2 miles of your house in the ghetto your opportunity for advancement isn't so very great.

OK, this is me getting down off my soapbox.
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:07 PM   #11  
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We have a Trolley system that runs through downtown--but not to outlying areas.
We have free, FREE I'M TELLING YOU, electric shuttles -aimed at downtown tourists- that run on approx 3 streets downtown. How ironic is it that those 3 streets are the most pedestrian friendly ones within 50 miles?
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:28 PM   #12  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuliaTN
We have free, FREE I'M TELLING YOU, electric shuttles -aimed at downtown tourists- that run on approx 3 streets downtown. How ironic is it that those 3 streets are the most pedestrian friendly ones within 50 miles?
Oh, I hear you. San Diego is a cluster of suburbs, and downtown is actually really small. So guess where they decided to run the Trolley lines? They have built it across Mission Valley now, and tout the fact that you can now access all the malls in the Valley without getting in your car--but you still have to drive to the Valley to catch a stop!

Anyway. This July we went back to Bristol for my SIL's wedding. We walked a good deal--to the bakers, to the deli, to the corner shop, to the social club--and people were amazed by this because "you're American!" I was a bit put off by that. The corner shop was only just at the corner--why on earth would I drive?? But I did notice that a lot of people were driving, and not so many on foot anymore. My MIL, even, drove to a shop that was right next to the baker's. She was getting out of her car as we walked up! My point is, the "car culture" seems to be moving in on the UK, too. It seemed like we were spending a lot of time in cars, veering through tight streets. Maybe that's just because Bristol doesn't have a tube, though.
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:28 PM   #13  
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I live a relatively short distance from my office...about 4 miles. I work in a large city area with a train station, bus transportation and university, Level one Trauma Center Hospital with 4-5 campuses between 2 towns.
My job charges me $600. per year to park my car in their parking deck...it's directly deducted from my paycheck along with heavy Union dues...(the entire university is unionized by about 6-7 different unions, I happen to be a Teamster).

Ride my bike the short distanceto work? IMPOSSIBLE!! someone would hit me with their large SUV because they are yakking on the cell phone, or mug me and steal my bike, there is no place to PARK the bike, I must pass the homeless shelter and drug rehab center on my way....like I said impossible. I take public transport to NYC (about 30 miles each way) but other than that I drive....

(if it's a good restaurant, it doesn't matter how far we go...it's a *treat*)

I did live close to the grammar school and high school and was one of the few parents that made their child walk to school....she could walk it faster through our neighborhood (with other kids for company, not alone) than I could drive her around the block on the highway & traffic lights. And the exercise certainly couldn't hurt...but ohhhh did I hear about how "other kids" parents would drive them......

I gripe at the gas station now that it is almost $3.00 a gallon, but today there WAS NO GAS available.....so I wind up on the bus yet....
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:41 PM   #14  
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someone would hit me with their large SUV
NOBODY wants to get me started on SUV's. Especially the single passenger 4 wheel drive versions that have never left dry asphalt. The ones like my sister's Land Rover which she bought because she has a Great Dane (who has ridden comfortably in my teensy tiny mini that gets 50mi/gallon )
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:54 PM   #15  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuliaTN
NOBODY wants to get me started on SUV's. Especially the single passenger 4 wheel drive versions that have never left dry asphalt. The ones like my sister's Land Rover which she bought because she has a Great Dane (who has ridden comfortably in my teensy tiny mini that gets 50mi/gallon )
Oh, I love Minis! I want one for my next car. My car is a Saturn and is 9 years old, and people keep bugging me about having an old car. She runs, she's reliable, she gets good gas mileage--why woud I want a new car? I'm going to drive Bella into the ground, then I'll worry about a new vehicle. As for the Mini, people complain about how small it is, but how much space do you need for you and your spouse?? We don't have kids and have no intentions in that direction. Why on earth would we need a huge car?

My friend has two dogs that she puts in crates for travel, and she went out and bought this huuuuuuuuuge van--4 captain's chairs, and a back bench seat that lays down to a double bed. And it's just her and her two dogs! She struggles to park it, struggles with mileage, and puts $80 worth of gas in on a good day. Not worth it!
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