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Posts about Peak Oil


Breakfast Links: The cyclists are naked and rolling

Rolling stops in Loudoun: The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office ticketed a number of cyclists last weekend who were participating in a muscular sclerosis charity event. In defending the citations for riders in the event who had slowed to 1 mph at a stop sign, Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson noted that "[t]hey forget the fact that they're sharing that road with motor vehicles." More than 700 cyclists participated in the event. (Loudoun Extra, Pat O, Cavan, Gavin Baker, ah)

Photo by hoyasmeg on Flickr

Pedestrians are traffic too: For the first time, the Montgomery County planning department's Highway Mobility Report, which analyzes congestion at 130 intersections across Montgomery, also counted pedestrians, who until recently were often given short shrift in discussions about how to make roads and intersections safer and more efficient. "We wanted to make sure we were accounting for all different modes of travel," said Dan Hardy, transportation planning supervisor for the county's Department of Park and Planning. (Post)

Oil prices jumping: Cementing the recent trend reversal, prices of sweet crude passed the $71-a-barrel mark, more than double its low of $30 a barrel from four months ago. Some analysts are predicting $250-a-barrel oil in the future. Noted GGW tipper Steve, "If it goes there, new Metro alignments won't look so expensive." (Guardian, Steve)

(Near) naked: The fourth-annual "Naked Bike Ride" (potentially NSFW) to protest oil dependency will take place today Saturday 6/13 at 3pm, beginning at Franklin Square. In contrast to sponsors of the ride in other, less conservative cities, local organizers have stated that "riders are asked to conform to the DC laws, which means stopping just short of the 'full Monty.'" (WashCycle, Lynda)

Camera data in MoCo: Supporters of the always-controversial speed cameras in Montgomery County have produced auto-fatality data to argue for the devices' continued existence. This year, to date, nine people have died in traffic collisions, a number which is roughly half the number from the same period in each of 2008 or 2007. "This is not a blip on the radar. This is long-lasting, profound effects on our roadways," said Police Captain John Damskey, before continuing, "[t]hey've got to be playing a part." (WTOP)

Miami-Dade Car-way The Miami-Dade busway is on the verge of being opened up to cars in order to fill a budget gap. An oft-ignored drawback of busways over other fixed-guideway transit corridors is that, once paved, there may be considerable political pressure to open them up to cars. (Miami Herald via The Overhead Wire, Cavan)

And ... Froggie has a number of photos from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail opening (Va Highways) ... After finding additional sponsors—Comcast and the Trust for the National Mall—HBO has announced that Screen on the Green will not be cancelled after all, just shortened (DCist) ... It's the summer, so, as usual, a number of streets will be closed this weekend, this time for the "Lawyers Have a Heart" Race and the "Capital Pride Festival.

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Urban planning meets the raw material shortage

As we discussed the big highway projects in the news, like the I-66 widening in Arlington and the Intercounty Connector, I began to think about their long-term sustainability once they get built, cost overruns and all.

U.S. urban planning policy, 1946-? Photo by Bill A on Flickr.

I personally agree with the viewpoint that we shouldn't build any more roads until we properly maintain the ones we've already have. The materials used to maintain roads are getting increasingly scarce and expensive. There is currently a shortage of asphalt, on top of the already steep rise in price for this precious material this year.

Imagine the ripple effect should asphalt remain scarce and expensive. In the short term, we'll depletion of highway funds even faster than we already have this year. What will become of our source of funding for infrastructure in the wake of predicted future oil shortages? The Financial Times reports:

The [International Energy Agency] found that even after recent investment, production from the fields was declining at an annual 6.7 per cent and that this rate was accelerating. This means 45m barrels a day would have to be found and tapped in the next 22 years simply to meet an unchanged world demand. As it stands, however, the IEA expects demand to rise from 85m b/d last year to 106m b/d in 2030, making the challenge that much greater.
I think the Peak Oil theorists have a point, but I don't share James Howard Kunstler's apocalpytic predictions. With proper urban planning, we can greatly mitigate our dependence on oil. Building huge, unneeded highways are very harmful, both directly to walkable urban communities, and through the opportunity cost of not building transit. And, most frustrating of all, is we are sinking so many resources into building highways that we might not even be able to maintain in the very near future.
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