Fuelproof redux

Kasy Zook (left) and Andrea Mules bike to the grocery store in South Philadelphia. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

The last time gas prices were flirting with $4.00 a gallon was in 2008. The Daily News did a series of "power page" special packages on how to get around without breaking your budget, called Fuelproof Your Summer. That feature wound up planting the seed from which grew Earth to Philly.

There was an upsurge in SEPTA ridership but once gas prices retreated so did a lot of car-owners, getting off the bus and back behind the wheel. Again this year, though, a lot of drivers are feeling the pinch, and as Molly Eichel reports in today's Daily News, once again "Philadelphians ditch cars for bikes, SEPTA and walking."

[T]hanks to a still shaky economy, rising gas prices and a newfound appreciation of Philly's walkable (and bikable) streets, living without a car is an increasingly attractive option - something a lot of residents have figured out. Nearly a third of all households in the city don't have a vehicle, according to the Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey. At the same time, only about 60 percent of city residents get to their jobs via an automobile, according to census data, a figure that is lower than for all but a few other cities. A quarter of Philadelphians commute via public transit, and nearly 9 percent walk to work - figures that are among the highest in the country.

Check it out - it's a great package, as the main story goes into how Philadelphia is beter primed than a lot of cities for walkability and/or bike-ability, and it's supplemented by quick takes on the pros and cons of car ownership, some must-have swag for the carless life, and even a mobile-phone game where you can hone your mad skillz on two wheels.  

As more people step out of their single-owner cars and explore different avenues of transport around town, it's inevitable that some will see the advantages for themselves and work such eco-friendly travel into their daily routines. What remains to be seen, though, is whether enough Philadelphians will stick with the switch if economic pressures recede. Keep your fingers crossed, but before crossing, be sure to look both ways!