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udos to the Bedford Police Department for helping save the city $1,000 a month in fuel costs.
Though that savings wasn’t the primary reason for starting its bike patrol a year ago, it’s definitely a welcome side effect. As fuel prices continue to go up, pedal power is at least saving city taxpayers some money.
The department received national recognition for its efforts this past week, making national newspaper and Internet reports as well as being mentioned on CNN. The bike patrol saves from 200 to 400 gallons of fuel per month. The original reason for implementing the patrol: increased police visibility and the physical fitness of the officers participating.
But we’ll take the savings, too.
Still, the effect of the rising cost of gasoline and fuel is hitting hard. Area residents are having to make tough decisions. And the problem is likely to only get worse in the days ahead.
Last week the average price for a gallon of self serve regular gasoline in Virginia hit $3.89, the 50th record high price in the Commonwealth since the beginning of the year, AAA reported. And the summer driving season is just getting ready to kick into gear. The U.S. Energy Administration estimates that the average family will spend about $250 more for gas this summer than last year.
What should be done?
Many want to place all the blame on the Big Oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips Co. and Chevron. True, those companies are wallowing in record profits. But those prices are based more on the cost of crude oil, some $135 a barrel, than on what’s being charged at a local gas station. As prices of crude go up, those companies are banking profits because of their own drilling efforts.
Still, it’s hard to swallow seeing those companies — awash in billions of dollars of profits while its consumers are getting punched in the stomach — receiving federal subsidies and tax breaks.
Congress took the leaders of those companies to task over just those issues recently. But lawmakers need to look at themselves as well. Congress has limited the exploration for oil here in the United States in places such as the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, parts of the Rocky Mountains and off the shores of the east and west coasts. No compromise on that issue is expected anytime soon.
And don’t expect renewable energy efforts to make any major impacts in the near future either.
The fact is the demand for fuel is up around the world and that’s causing prices to rise — dramatically. Before too long, we all may need to pedal a little bit more to save money.
And if we feel a little bit better physically because of it, that’s OK too.