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Sunday, October 29, 2006

how we get around...

A gentleman on the ROE3 list wrote about the 30mph solution, where the speed limit would be limited to 30mph, and infractions would be dealt with severely. He is correct in one sense: faster vehicles eat more energy, so drastically reducing the limit would certainly reduce demand for gas.

What he failed to realise is that many cars are tuned for optimal mileage at a much higher speed - as one cruises the highway at a steady 2000rpm, it is easier for the electronic fuel distribution to optimise. At lower speeds, one speeds up, slows down, speeds up, slows down, etc. This results in suboptimal mileage, even though you are technically going slower.

The Toyota Prius purports to fix this a bit by shutting the gas engine off when stopped or otherwise not needed. This helps.

The biggest obstacle to such an idea is not technical, but social, and it has to do with the fact that most people are stupid and lazy, and are not going to give up the Ford Excursion until the keys are pried out of their fat dead cold fingers, because, well, they're lazy and stupid.

I replied to the gentleman, and this is my reply:

The 30MPH Solution (30ms) is right but incorrect.

Earlier someone posted that they get better mileage at higher speeds. This was also true of my recently deceased Audi A4. But - that's really not the point, oddly enough.

We have to look to what we use transportation devices for, and that's a variable. I have to go visit a friend for breakfast. I have to go to work. I have to collect gorceries. I have to take my daughter to school. I have to move some furniture.

Visit a friend? I can ride a bike. Because I live almost 180 m above sea level, and only a few km from the beach, getting home is a climb, so I find an electric assist bike is extremely efficient.

According to Heinberg, an electric bike uses less energy than actually pedalling, due to the embodied energy in the food - but that is also a digression, albeit an interesting one...

So, I roll down to the Haight, stumble into All You Knead, and chat up the lovely blonde bespectacled waitress, Sarah, until my friend Jerry shows up with a copy of the Guardian. After a big breakfast that's damn hard to beat for the dollar, I can climb back on the ebike and make my way up the hill. All told? just a fraction of the 24v 500w battery was used - VASTLY more efficient than the A4, which had to not only haul my giant frame up the hill, but also the 1500 kg of its own glass, steel, and plastic.

The ebike is extremely efficient and does the job.

I also have to go to work. that is also handlily accomplished with the ebike, as it is only a few miles away.

But: on the way - I have to take Avanti to School. So, the eBike isn't going to cut it. I *could* do it, but she finds riding on the back of it too scary... So, Mrs S. drives us both in the Fambly Car, once, an Audi A4, now a Toyota Prius, and I take the subway home to face a long nasty uphill trudge, which is what passes for exercise around here.

And moving furniture? If it doesn't fit in the Prius, we rent a truck.

Now, most of America doesn't have the dubious blessing of the San Francisco Municipal Railway System or the Bay Area Rapid Transit. And a large portion of America has a double digit IQ. And so, when they work their pointless job they want the comforts of "home", they want "comfort", they want to suckle on the breast of the motherland and rather than think about an appropriate vehicle, they will think "Fuck that shit - I'll just drive an SUV and be done with it."

And they will have barbecues and tailgate parties, and all the other princes and princesses will come and feed from the mad largesse of a planet depoiled and with fatty stained tongues say, "oh my, how delicious, how delicious, oh how boring..." and their children will move to the city, just like they did, where they meet their mates, and dance the dance, and collect a career and a mortgage, and a car payment and a divorce, and an endless monotonous slogging excuse of a life where they will wonder where the time went, and why it's all coming apart, and they will blame the faceless empty OTHER for their problems and deficiencies, not seeing how it all made sense; because to them, the notion of a "level of abstraction" is something they forgot about in junior high school math, and they don't, can't, and won't understand.

So, they will feel threatened and destroy anyone who will remove their conveniences, and they will leave their pointless little lives behind, thinking they will go to heaven, never understanding that heaven's just a metaphor by which one can measure one's suffering in the here and now.

We will use it all up.

Sometimes I think it's all downhill from here.

"Hey dad - Look! No hands!"

fascinating that you've finally foundered on the rocky shoals of peak oil perseveration.

it's a rule-of-thumb that most i.c.e. vehicles run optimally at between 35-40 m.p.h.

later, dude!
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