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Transportation & Fuel Source Technology

Increase in Popularity of Alternative Transportation Leads to Decrease in Oil Usage

Alternative forms of transportation are becoming more popular in North America, leading to a small but significant decrease in fuel consumption. The National Household Travel Survey conducted in the United States found that usage of private vehicles decreased while public transportation use increased slightly. People are also walking more, particularly in larges cities. The survey found walking increased by 20 percent between 2001 and 2009 in cities with more than three million residents. Other forms of transportation, including biking and car sharing, also was more popular. You can do your part to decrease oil usage with some simple lifestyle modifications.

1. Rent a Ride

Services like Car2Go have fuel-efficient Smart Cars that you can rent by the minute instead of using your own gas-guzzling vehicle. Relying on a rent-a-ride service means you do not have to a car of your own, but are not held to public transportation when you need to get somewhere quickly and with room for items like groceries.

Car2Go already operates in three major Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. The service is also available in some US cities, including the nation's capital. One of Car2Go's main benefits is that customers can pick up and drop off their cars at many locations instead of having to return the car to the same place they picked it up. It can also be significantly cheaper than a taxi or other car service.

Many who don't want to give up their car, when they move, might look into car shipping. Car shipping moves several cars at one time, significantly reducing fuel usage compared to driving each individual car or getting a new car.

2. Find a Trail

The increase in walking and bike riding is possibly due to an increase in trails, bike lanes and bike racks. If you have not considered walking or biking as potential alternatives to driving in the past because of a lack of trails or lanes, consult a map in your area to see if new additions now make these options more realistic.

Many larger cities in North America are allocating funds to making more bike trails and cycling lanes. DC alone recently added around 50 miles of cycling lanes.

3. Join a Bike Share Program

If you do not want to invest in a quality bike or worry about what to do with it when you are not using it, join a bike share program like CaBi. According to, a recent survey found that 56 percent of more than 5,000 people surveyed are taking fewer taxi rides because of a bike-share service. You can pick up and drop off a bike at one of many convenient locations.

Join a bike share program for around $75 per year and then instead of hailing a cab or jumping in your car for short trips, borrow a bike. The annual membership fee includes all rides up to 30 minutes long. Another option is Bixi, which serves cities in Canada including Toronota, Monteal and Ottawa. The price for an annual membership in Toronto is $95.

4. Request a Ride

For people who like to sit back and relax while someone else does the driving, but who need to get places that are not convenient with public transportation, consider an on-demand private car service. Unlike taxis that drive around looking for fares, these services send out cars quickly when needed. You can even request a car from companies like Uber with smartphone apps.

5. Go Electric

If you need your own car, get a hybrid or an electric to save fuel. Even though gas prices are going down, sales figures for electric and hybrid cars are increasing. Alternative-energy vehicle sales went up by more than 164 percent in June this year.

Saving fuel saves you money and helps the environment. Using these options also supports more sustainable practices that conserve resources for future generations.

Written by Pete Phelps.
Pete writes about the entertainment scene on the West Coast. As an LA native, he's equally frustrated with and thrilled by the growth he sees in LA.

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