It has been a long time coming, but for anyone that uses a car, how does it feel now to own a piece of the road? That freedom to get up and go anywhere? And the fact that it now costs £1.35 per litre of fuel (and for anyone old school that is over £6 per Imperial Gallon).
Even for my little motorbike, I am going over the £10 mark to fill up a full motorbike tank. Small change in today’s worthless currency known as Sterling, but interesting to note that before the New Year I was struggling to put anything more than £10 of fuel in my bike.
So what is going to happen to us, in Britain? How are we going to cope with arguably the most expensive petrol prices in the world. Yes, I know that most of it is taxes, but the simple fact is that we have run out of cheap oil. Even if the tax was reduced, eventually, the price of petrol will shoot up.
And while the shock of going over £1/litre remains fresh, the fact is that it is pretty easy to see petrol hitting £2/litre by the Olympics next year. And then what? Are we still going to be driving to that out of town shopping mall? Is that commute to work going to be made easier by blasting out the Heart FM breakfast show? Are we going to go cruising every Saturday night in overpriced sports cars in an attempt to let off my testosterone?
The Internal Combustion Engine is heading the way of the dodo. While there will be plenty of years left in it, and plenty of oil left, the key to mass car use is affordability. Once the price of oil reaches a certain level, it becomes unsustainable. And that is exactly what is happening now with the price of petrol. No we are not going to see a sudden cycling revolution, but small shifts in the pattern of behavior will happen. People will drive less to the take away, opting instead to walk. Those damn buses are going to get more crowded.
And most importantly, that Great British Tradition of queuing up on the motorway to get to some awful shopping centre to queue to get into the car park to queue to max out the credit card and then queue to get a cup of coffee will dry up in favour of something less abominable…like queuing for tea…
All right, I am a bit tongue in cheek today, habits will not change over night, and cars will remain king for a while to come. But people will one day look fondly back at the time when noxious gases and smog filled the air around London. At least the sunsets have been nice…