Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Gas Prices and Motorbikes, Fuel Economy and Noise: The View from Paris and Montreal

Gasoline in Montreal hit $1.51 a litre this week, although on Sunday when we filled up, it was an "affordable" $1.37. The price seems absolutely fantastic compared to what we were paying—and complaining about—just a year ago.

In France, though, gas was even more expensive earlier this month. The little filling station on Gay Lussac near the place we stayed in the Ve district posted prices around €1.67 a liter most of the three weeks we were there. In the XIIe nearer the Périphérique, the ring highway around paris, the price was lower: €1.57. Given the current exchange, the higher price works out to $2.66 CAD a liter.

It looks like the high gas prices are having an effect on how Parisians get around town. Making it easier to use bicycles in the city—Vélib' offers 20,000 bikes around town for pennies--and providing excellent public transit has helped cut automobile use in the city drastically. But people are also turning to motorcycles both because they can weave in and out of gridlocked traffic and because they use much less gas. Sales havve gone up markedly in the last couple of years. Supposedly the new machines are fuel efficient and low on green house gas emissions, but they are noisy. Maybe it’s time to start considering noise pollution in all the environmental equations we do.

Vroom, vroom...

3 comments:

Muzition said...

I don't like anything noisy. I really hate the extremely loud noise that motorcycles make. But that's the only thing I hate about them. At least motorcyclists never ride on the sidewalks, ride the wrong way on the street, talk on cell phones while riding, or listen to iPods while riding, like cyclists do.

I think Montreal should have more bike paths. This would partially solve the problem of pedestrians like me nearly getting hit by sidewalk cyclists.

Montreal is working on improving public transit: http://940news.com/local.php?news=29231
Now, if only they'd improve the late-night and weekend services in the West Island...

SBVOR said...

If you care to, click the link and spread the word.

lagatta said...

The rebirth of bicycle culture in Paris (following Strasbourg, which many French think of as half-German anyway) is truly momentous and should have a great impact in Montréal.

There are a lot of things wrong with the Vel'lib scheme, but at least it will contribute to making cycling a normal part of Parisian life. There are a lot more cycle paths than before.

Yes, more bicycle paths - the lane on St-Urbain has proved very popular.

muzition, there has been much more of a clampdown on cyclists disregarding traffic rules than before.

There is one place I will continue to go on the sidewalk - though I get off if I see a lot of pedestrians, "challenged" ones (disabled, elderly, with small children in tow) etc - under the viaduct between Mile-End and Petite-Italie on St-Laurent. Taking the narrow street with the cars is a death trap - there is nowhere to pull over should your chain slip off or something.

And the access to the St-Urbain bicycle path is insane, wandering all about the place.