Gas prices a perfect excuse to cut fuel usage |

Gas prices a perfect excuse to cut fuel usage

The recent spike in gasoline prices makes now a good time to examine our personal fuel-consumption habits.Nearly everyone living in the valley has surely taken note of the sharp increase in gasoline prices over the last few days. At the corner of Main and Monarch, a gallon of regular unleaded that cost $3.08 on Tuesday was up to $3.28 on Thursday. At the Amoco at the Aspen Airport Business Center, prices jumped 21 cents a gallon Wednesday afternoon. Similar hikes are occurring downvalley as well. The 7-Eleven in Basalt, which often has the least expensive gas in the midvalley, was charging $3.09 for a gallon of regular unleaded Thursday morning. Gas prices in Carbondale jumped 20 cents per gallon over two days in early August.Whatever the root causes of the price inflation, Hurricane Katrina or not, there is an opportunity here. As residents of the Roaring Fork Valley, we are at the top of the energy food chain. A great many of us live in air-conditioned homes, park on heated driveways and drive huge cars, trucks and SUVs. As people consider replacements for their Hummers, F-350s and Range Rovers, hopefully they will look to the ever-widening selection of hybrid vehicles, most of which offer fantastic mileage.But even before replacing their cars, locals have other options that are even more environmentally friendly. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority operates the state’s second-largest public transit system. Buses run every half-hour from Aspen to El Jebel, every hour from Aspen to Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, and a few times each day from Aspen to New Castle, Silt and Rifle. Express buses run during rush hour. Free local service runs all day throughout Aspen.You pay for RFTA with your sales tax dollars; you might as well use it.Another option is carpooling. Day-in and day-out, many of us commute to work alone, even when we could easily pick up a co-worker and share the ride and its costs into town. Along with splitting the gas bill, car-poolers are rewarded with stress-free, no-cost parking in Aspen.And for those who prefer a little aerobic exercise before parking it at a desk or picking up a hammer, there is a fantastic network of bicycle trails and cycle-friendly roads between Aspen and Carbondale. Riding and walking are options for much of the spring and fall, and all summer.With all those choices so readily available, ask yourself this question: “Do I really need to drive?”If the answer is “no,” then try getting there without your car. After all, it’s getting cheaper every day.

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