Benefits exist for high gas prices, some say

By Denise Trowbridge and Paul Wilson The Columbus Dispatch

High gasoline prices are awesome.

OK, you might not agree, but a surprising number of Columbus residents do. At least, they see another side to the story.

To them, higher prices could bring investment in fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuels, increased interest in public transit and carpooling, and a decreased dependence on oil from politically unstable regions.

But in the days of high octane carping about gasoline prices, they aren’t saying this too loudly. Unleaded gasoline cost an average of $2.85 a gallon in central Ohio late last week, moving closer to its all-time high of $3.08 last September, AAA said.

“I don’t like paying any more than I have to, either, but too much cheap gas is not good for us,” said Columbus resident John Gideon, who commutes to work by bus or bicycle and is president of the nonprofit Central Ohio Bicycle Advocacy Coalition.

“It’s killing us with global warming, air pollution and an epidemic of inactivity.”

Bottom line: America’s dependence on the automobile is inefficient and unsustainable, Gideon thinks.

“Every time the price goes up, more people see that we need to do things differently,” he said.

It takes a lot to get people to change their habits, though.

Weinland Park resident James Bach doesn’t like reading the paper or turning on the television and hearing people “complain the government isn’t doing anything about gas prices while they drive 40 miles each way to work in vehicles that get 18 miles to the gallon.”

Bach purchased a house within a mile of his job so he can walk to work. He and his wife try to use their car as little as possible.

“If everyone conserved, everyone would pay less” for gas, said Upper Arlington resident Ken Ladell.