A while ago I wrote about E85’s emergence in the region. (E85 is an alternative fuel made of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, and can only be used (reliably) in vehicles with specially designed engines.) In my first post, I felt that E85 was likely to have a positive financial impact on the local economy, would be more environmentally friendly that regular gas, and would lead to less dependence on foreign oil. Not surprisingly, local politicians like Richard Lugar have made arguments along the same lines.
But recently, Consumer Reports (CR), a non-profit organization generally thought to be objective, has published an informative article on E85 (the online version is abridged) in its October issue. Their findings cast doubt on E85 as a sustainable alternative fuel on a number of fronts, and provided what I learned reading it, I felt a follow-up was needed to clarify its pros and cons.
Continue reading "Update: E85 in Indiana and the "Ethanol Myth""
Recently I've been hearing more and more local buzz about E85, which is a cleaner and less oil-dependent fuel mixure of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. I've read about success stories in Brazil for awhile, and occasionally heard it knocked around in domestic news, but it seems like Indiana (and the Midwest in general) is starting to really pick up on it. And for good reason: ethanol is produced from corn -- and yeah -- "there's more than corn in Indiana," but c'mon. This trend should be good for local farmers, which should be good for the state in general.
With gas prices soaring, and E85 sold for about 30% less than regular unleaded, it seems likely that demand will increase. My understanding is that modern cars can run on E85, but really aren't designed to, so may experience problems or serious inefficiencies. GM is coming out with some cars that handle both E85 and regular 10% Ethanol well, which should also help spur demand.
UPDATE: I've written a new post based on a useful article published in Consumer Reports that casts some doubts on the benefits of E85.
If you live or commute on the north side, you’ve probably noticed a few roundabouts by now. The newest roundabout that I’ve seen is at the intersection of 96th street and Westfield road. This intersection is part of my daily commute, and I can say without question that it has saved me two minutes each way, on average. And when you’re barreling into work for an early morning meeting, two minutes is pure gold. This got me thinking about the pros and cons of roundabouts (as compared to traditional 4-way signals) and I came to the conclusion that we should demand more roundabouts from our state and local planners. Here’s why...
Continue reading "About Time for Roundabouts"
INtake Weekly did an article this week on taking the IndyGo bus as a transportation. The article's writer, Meghan McCormick, is a bit too much of a cheerleader on the subject, and glosses over a few issues with our public transportation that a serious reporter would address. One like me.
I have taken the bus, and it's not pretty, the way Meghan describes. Oh, the bus is clean, and in general the people are very pleasant. The problems are with the schedules and routes.
Continue reading "INtake writer drinks the kool-aid regarding IndyGo"
Once again - the disclaimer of this series is that the "moron" in question is yours truly. In anycase, I was finally able to haul the bike out of the garage, dust it off, and take advantage of the location of my new home - which is pretty much right next to the Monon. It gives the home a park-like feeling to be able to look out and see people riding their bikes, jogging or just walking past on the trail.
My main destination was the Indiana State Fair. I didn't plan on going, but since I can hear the nightly concerts from my house, I just wanted to cruise on by. Rows and Rows of cars filled the overflow lots and the grounds of the Indiana School for The Deaf. Upon passing 40th street, the rows of cars turned into RVs. It seems not every traveling fair is like HBO's Carnivale, as evidenced by the tripod supported Direct TV dishes hooked up to many of the RVs. Ah - the comforts of home...
One nice thing about using the Monon to access the Fair Grounds is something called "Pedal and Park". Near 38th street and Gate 18, a fenced area is set up, with attendants, who allow bicycle riders to park their bikes freely and securely. Open from 10:00 a.m. until 7 p.m., running August 10th through the 21st (ok - it's a bit late, yes, I know - but what do you want? I've been busy), Park and Pedal is in place to encourage non-motorized transportation - including roller blades.
Recent efforts to improve public transportation in Indianapolis have focused on creating public transportation options for commuters who live outside of Indianapolis in suburban counties, starting with a line between Hamilton County and downtown Indianapolis. A failed plan created by the Regional Transportation Council was to create public transport lines from outside Indianapolis to downtown using a combination of federal and local funding, and using one of three different potential methods: buses on dedicated lanes, a trolley-like light rail system, or an elevated monorail.
Continue reading "Indy public transportation project stalls"
We had an out-of-town guest at work yesterday. She needed to get back to the airport so we called Yellow Cab a little before 4:00 and asked them to send a taxi over to our office building near 96th and College. Upon calling again at 4:30, the dispatcher said a cab had been there but no one had shown up (a lie), but she would send another cab. At 5:10, after another phone call and another promise that one was on the way, no cabs had shown up and Brad had to drive our guest to the aiport himself so she wouldn't miss her plane.
This happened last year as well when I called for a cab to come to my house to drive a car-less friend back downtown. Two hours and repeated calls later, and still no cab.
Lesson: don't count on a taxi to get you around. If you have to call a cab, make sure you have a backup plan. Or better yet, find an alternate plan because these guys don't deserve your business.
We all know that gas prices are insane right now, but I was shocked by something other than the total price after filling up my car on the way home tonight. The pump actually stopped working when I reached $50.00. OK, I was shocked by the price too, but the bigger issue at hand: have we reached some bug with pay-at-the-pump systems that limit how much gas can be pumped at a time? Are gas prices so high that they have outstripped the functionality built into the pumps? When gas prices top $5.00/gal will I have to actually make two transactions to completely fill up the car? Is this a sign I should trade in my SUV for a Prius?
- about 21 gallons were pumped in the car
- price per gallon was $2.38 (87 octane)
- I used my debit card
- I used a pump at Kroger on 65th and Keystone
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