We all know that when it comes to everyday transit bicycles, motorcycles, car pooling, and mass transit are all better alternatives than the one-person-one car option. As several of us have pointed out that will more or less solve itself in many locations when gas gets up around $10 to $15 a gallon and the freeway commute becomes even more clotted. I suspect our large cities will then have more the look of say Bombay in the 1960s, with many more bicycles, small motorcycles, pedicabs, and pedestrians than at present. We might even see rickshaws on the freeways in our lifetimes! And of course in most cases the transition won't be pretty. It will be the wealthy (with their cars and Humvees) versus the poor, and the less affluent will be the ones getting run down - literally.
The other thing that will probably occur will be the construction of more paid turnpikes and autobahn type freeways where the wealthy can drive their Mercedes at 100 mph while the underclasses trundle along as best they can on less direct routes. Large corporations, for example, might build or buy a special throughway for their employees to drive to work on.
I am still wondering whether anyone has ever figured out whether planes or ferries would be more carbon friendly for Hawaiian inter-island transport and commuting. I suspect properly designed ferries would have less of an impact in the long run.
I'm very interested in the small percentage of people who actually travel because they must - are driven to it if you will, not the every day commuters that most of us are. And frankly, I don't give a goddamn about anyone's opinion on whether they should or not, or if they are being irresponsible, insensitive to the environment, etc. The human urge to travel and explore for some is much like the sex drive of teenagers - morality or ethics will have little say in the matter. The fact is some will always be driven to travel, migrate, live like Gypsies or Nomads or whatever, and I firmly believe that it is in the interests of all intelligent young people to take to the road at some point, even if only just over the state line. I am more sedentary myself, but I find such groups and individuals to be among the most fascinating folks I know, and have learned much from the wanderers I have encountered.
Perhaps not the elephant, but at least an ox or bull in the room is a huge population of retirement minded folks with a bottled up urge to do some traveling. I think economics will sort out how they do it, and Buehler is getting to the nuts and bolts of it. It might be interesting to compute whether they use more or less fossil fuels by shutting down the family home and going on the road, and whether this life-style will have more or less impact than staying at home, and as this is a group that numbers in the millions, it is of question of some moment.