As gas prices continue to rise past $4, it's a good time to talk strategy for coping with what could be a permanent fact of life.

If you haven't considered it already, the commute to work or school might be a good way to cut your gas expenditures. We offer discounted transit passes for the six municipal operators serving our campus; roughly 165 vanpools; bicycle infrastructure, including a popular bike lending library; and discounted carpool parking permits. And if you need help finding a carpool, we offer Zimride, a social media-driven online ridematching service. There are over 4,400 people who have signed up to share rides on Zimride. I encourage you to sign up today.

For those days you must drive, there is a whole school of thought on strategies for saving fuel. Some are painfully obvious, while others might require some behavioral changes.  Consumer Reports advocates for doing the following:

  • Driving at a moderate speed
  • Driving smoothly
  • Reducing unnecessary drag
  • Not using premium gas unless it is absolutely necessary
  • Minimize driving with a cold engine (luckily for us -- or not, if you consider the implications of climate change -- the weather is getting warmer)
  • Keeping tires properly inflated
  • Buy tires with lower rolling resistance
  • Avoid idling

NBC4 Los Angeles offered some more creative ideas for saving fuel:

  • Turn down the sound. This is because, according to one person on Facebook, drivers tend to drive more aggressively while listening to loud music, thus wasting precious fuel. Hmm.
  • Lose weight. NBC4 writes that several sources say that decreasing the load in your car by 100 pounds increases your fuel economy by 2 percent. But it would probably help to lose weight too.
  • Use a windshield shade to lower your car's interior temperature, thus reducing the energy your air conditioner must consume.
  • Stay inside. NBC4 cites a 2009 US Department of Transportation report which states that 45% of fuel is consumed by Americans completing discretionary trips. Although the wording is a bit blunt, and potentially misleading, there is some truth in devising creative ways to cut on discretionary trips by ordering stuff online, or combining trips.

Treehugger has a whopping 66 ways to save fuel. I'll let you peruse them here.

I have found that most of my vehicle trips are to destinations that are over 15-20 miles from my house -- but they aren't entirely inaccessible via mass transit. As gas prices rise, I vow to take advantage of my UCLA Transportation-subsidized transit passes and complete more discretionary trips via mass transit and my bike or Xootr.