If you go back several years when gas prices were hovering around $5/gallon, something very obvious happened; People started driving less! It was the only logical thing to do to save money. It cost some people over $100 just to fill their tank. I can remember myself being careful to use my car more wisely and efficiently. It certainly was not a good time to take a nice Sunday drive. Then all of a sudden gas prices started to fall. Now the reason for this seems to be that the oil rich countries became concerned that the demand for their oil was falling. These same countries knew that when demand for their product falls, lowering the price will increase demand.
I assume you can see where I am going here. Imaging how quickly the demand for oil will fall as more people utilize their bikes for transportation. By example, if your roundtrip commute to work is 20 miles and gas price is $4/gallon, it would cost you 132 gallons of fuel for the year.
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There are approximately 128.3 million people that commute to work every day in the United States, according to National Household Travel Survey, US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. If only 10% of the people commuted by bicycle, that would reduce our demand on foreign oil by approximately 1.7 BILLION gallons of gas or roughly 40 Million barrels of oil. Now the united states consumes approximately 18 million barrels a day. So even though that will only lower the demand by .5% it is a start. In some countries, such as the Netherlands, over 43% of people commute by bike. If we could attain numbers like that in the US, demand would be lowered by over 2%! I have written before about all the other amazing effects of more people biking: less traffic, less pollution, healthier people, less medical costs.