Pacific NW Per-Capita Gas Use Down to 1966 Levels

Gas Consumption is DownAccording to the Sightline institute, gas consumption is down in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington and Idaho. For more stats and details, read the full report.)  In terms of weekly gasoline consumption per person, Oregon and Washington are in the top 10 least consuming states (Washington D.C. actually leads the pack.)

This is good news–way to go northwesterners, but don’t go celebrating just yet.

Our total consumption, keeping pace with population growth, has not dropped. Per-captia we still consume more gas than a handful of states including New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Alaska, Utah, Illinois and Pennsylvania. And compared against the world, the report reminds us we still have a long way to go:

Despite recent reductions, northwesterners still consume prodigious amounts of gasoline. Daily consumption in the Northwest states remains nearly twice as high as the global average for high-income countries. 

This is not surprising but shameful nonetheless. Americans do love the freedom of driving on the open road.

In the past eight years, our family has drastically reduced our gas consumption. We used to drive to work (sometimes in two cars despite the proximity of our offices to one another) and shop for entertainment in our car. We occasionally took the bus, but most of the time we were out there burning up fossil fuel like good Americans. Now Tim bike commutes exclusively and I ride my bike for errands, kid hauling etc. We walk more and basically park our car and only use it on occasion for out-of-town-trips. As we’ve said before it’s fun and not that much of a sacrifice.

I wonder if Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi,has read the report? According to the PI, he has a grand plan to move proposed Eastside light rail funds to carpool lanes. Do we need more HOV lanes? Are people really going to be driving cars 30 years from now when these hypothetical lanes would be completed? Instead of building more lanes, why not work some more on our consumption and give northwesterners options, other than personal automobiles, for getting around.

I know a number of our readers are completely car-free and have zero gas consumption. I admire and applaud you. I’d love to hear how many of you are completely car-free. How about the rest of you – how’s your gas consumption?

 – Anne

5 responses to “Pacific NW Per-Capita Gas Use Down to 1966 Levels

  1. Meanwhile down in Aus I am hearing more adds on radio and TV promoting V8’s as sexy, cool, and fun! One car lot was suggesting that young men could get down there with their friends to buy a v8 so they could be ‘V8 mates’. Then on the radio as I was cycling home I hear the most disgusting country song I’ve ever heard. ‘V8 town’ by Troy Cassar-Daley, one of Australian country music’s favorite sons. Blagh it makes me sick!

    So our consumption is about 35 liters a fortnight. Usually if we go anywhere as a family we take the car, but we live in a reasonably small town/city. Since starting a new job I bicycle commute about 18km every day and rarely use the car to go anywhere on my own except at night or for trips that are greater than 10km. I am more committed to reducing car use than my wife but that’s still making an impact because it means we have one less car, (for now).

  2. My wife and I use about 32 gallons of gasoline per month in our one car. Most of our car trips are 5-15 miles with our two little kids. I bike commute 3 days/week (28 miles round trip) and carpool the other 2 days. My wife has the shorter commute; about a 1 mile walk. Once our youngest is big enough to ride on the xtracycle with our toddler, we’ll likely do more family outings by bicycle.

  3. Here’s a great big pinkie wave ( ) to all the V-8 Mates! Me, I’ll stick to my V-twin…yeah, it’s a hemi.

  4. I’m a bit confused here, maybe you can clarify. So Rossi’s plan is no good, because he’s encouraging HOV and Light Rail so people carpool and use public transport more, thus decreasing gas consumption. Isn’t that what you’re also promoting? Non Sequitur, anyone? Anyone?

    Shouldn’t you be lauding Rossi’s plan for making such a large commitment to cut gas consumption? Also, what about his goal to reducing grid lock so people aren’t spending time in their cars idling, using more gas? And offering hybrid tax credits and switching the entire fleet of Washington State vehicles to hybrids? If you care to clarify, I would just LOVE to hear how your conclusion computes.

  5. MMortenson – I hesitate to respond and drag this thread into a political quagmire, but since you asked us to explain our conclusion, I feel obligated to give it a shot. ONCE.

    We can’t laud Rossi’s plan because it a) isn’t genuine. Among other things, he wants to make more HOV lanes ostensibly for bus use, but then proposes to open said lanes to non HOV traffic for a large part of the day. b) We’re not going to cheer anything that makes it easier for car drivers to continue in their destructive behavior.

    I could go into the part about his tax credits for driving hybrid and his plan to convert state cars to hybrid, but those are herring issues (and conveniently Rossi would benefit from a hybrid tax credit because he drives one).

    Neither of those ideas attack the real problem– that for too long it’s been too easy for developers to build high-profit, sprawl inducing commercial and residential developments and it’s been too easy for employers to locate on cheap land — all of which adds major automotive loads to the heavily subsidised transporation infrastructure.

    Instead making it easy to keep going about our misguided automotive ways, how about if Rosso comes up with some tax credits that could spark change in the system. For example, How about credits for employers who choose to locate in dense urban areas? Or whom field virtual workforces? How about tax credits (for employees who don’t drive (bike, telecommute, walk) or choose to live close to their jobs…

    Those are just a start, but should give you an idea of why we conclude Rossi’s plan doesn’t compute.

    We here at car free days are all about making a difference one day at a time, one family at a time, and one bike at a time. About the only way we are going to get behind a pols “plan” will be if it supports those ideas.

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