Friday, January 19, 2007

How Far Does a Penny Go?

Several days ago, I was out in the car running some errands. Nothing special, just a little zipping around the local area, but the time spent driving and sitting in traffic was enough to start me thinking about the fuel I was using. In general, I wish there were a way that I could safely ride a bicycle, or in the winter some enclosed human powered vehicle (google search "velomobile"). We would all be happier and healthier if this were more practical. Before I take my place atop my soap box and start making excuses for why my (not to mention much of the rest of the US's) weight and blood pressure are up and my energy level is down, let me get back to the point. Gas costs money. We Americans still get it pretty cheaply, but nonetheless, I started doing calculations in my head. I noted that, at the time, gas seemed to be going for around $2.10- $2.20 per gallon. That made the calculations easy, since my car averages around 21-22 MPG. 10 cents per mile somehow seems a bit more concrete than thinking in terms of dollars per gallon and miles per gallon. Then I took it a step farther. The limit to this seems to be the penny. With 5280 feet to a mile, my car will consume one penny worth of fuel every 528 feet. Thats about 161 meters for those of you metrically inclined. Put in different terms, at a nice leisurely 35 MPH average speed, the car is consuming one penny worth of gas every 10.3 seconds. It's enough to make me want to brave the elements and traffic and start riding again.