Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An 'Easy' Way to Waste Time

From a letter to the editor in the April 28, 2008 edition of The New York Times

“The Big Thirst” (Week in Review, April 20) left me gratified, mystified and frustrated by turns.

Gratified because as a bicycle commuter, I am apparently the rarest of commuting Americans. And most efficient, in terms of energy per passenger mile.

Mystified and frustrated because the energy expert Vaclav Smil’s “... Or Conserving It” graphic describing three strategies for conserving oil doesn’t mention the strategy that can be enacted immediately with absolutely minimal implementation cost. What is this mysterious and apparently obscure strategy? Drive the speed limit.

The impact on the fuel economy would be even greater if the speed limit — gradually raised by increments since being set to 55 miles per hour in the late 1970s — were reset to 55. And if observing the speed limit were considered a public benefit instead of a public nuisance.

Consider the costs — in dollars, lives and security — of impatience.

Robert F. Anderson

Ellicott City, Md., April 20, 2008

Apparantly some think that time is not money.

By this logic, I should take 60-90 minutes to bicycle to work rather then 14 minutes to drive.

Or we should drive clustered together at 55 mph rather then 65-75 mph more spread out with greater reaction time between vehicles on limited access highways that lack pedestrians and side streets, despite the advances in vehicular technologies that provide greater fuel efficiency. In the early 1990s in a research paper that I did for a class at the American University in Washington DC on traffic clustering, I found that the ratio between single and multi-vehicular accidents was roughly 40/60 with the 55 mph national maximum speed limit, shifting to roughly 60/40 with its repeal. Hence the lower speed limit had a greater proportion of multi vehicular accidents: the type more likely to involve non at fault drivers; with the higher speed limits having a lesser proportion of those and the greater proportion of the single vehicular accidents that by their very nature likely involve only the at fault driver (and any passengers in that vehicle).

This will save even less fuel given the propensity pf police officers to set speed traps on downgrades, causing drivers to ride their brakes rather then pick up some free gravity speed/momentum.

Nonetheless, at least one of the current 3 major party candidates for U.S. President favors a return to a 55 mph speed limit: Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's Untimely Proposal
Hillary Clinton Backs Return to 55 mph speed limit
Hillary Clinton pushes for reinstatement of national 55 mph limit

How many Hillary Clinton supporters -- particularly the lower level income people that she allegedly reaches out to -- know her favoring reimposing the 55 mph national maximum speed limit?

Drive 55- No New Technology

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