Before leaving Utah I never drove over 60 mph. I know that fuel economy is based heavily on how we drive. I drove like a little old lady and could get nearly 30 mpg in our minivan. Since I didn't drive much, I felt really good about driving slow and getting the most out of the miles I put on the car. In fact, before leaving Utah, I didn't ride alone in a car more than once every 8-12 months. Every mile on the car was done taking several people somewhere (thus the car was necessary).
Today driving home I found myself going 75 mph in a 70 mph zone (please don't report me). I know that I'm still far from being a dare devil or a thrill seeker, but that is uncharacteristic of me. I should be driving 60mph with really slow accelerations to improve gas mileage. It is even more important now because I drive alone every day. My gas mileage has gone down to 20mpg here in Kentucky.
My driving habits are a little dorky, but I'm OK with that. The question that arose in my mind as I was driving was, "why have my driving habits changed? Why am I allowing my gas mileage to plummet when I know the changes that I could make to improve it?" The answer... I want to get home to be with my family and if I drive faster it will make a difference in that aspect. That really pulls me to live closer to work.
Here's the issue. I know that I've blogged a lot about this and nobody probably cares, but it's on my mind so I'm writing about it. Crime in the parts of the city that we can easily afford is bad. We looked at a house (that we actually liked a lot) that was in our price range, but near a not so great part of town. A little research on line revealed that there had been a shooting at the end of that street last month. I can't live in a home where I don't feel comfortable taking a walk at night. That criteria pushes us into nicer neighborhoods which cost more. By the time we're in areas where we feel comfortable, the neighborhoods are these monstrosity things without sidewalks so we still can't walk anywhere. Why wouldn't I want to live outside of town (but still within cycling distance) if my family can't walk places anyway? That is the attraction to contributing to sprawl. Even though it's against everything I believe, I see no attraction to living in a huge non-walkable subdivision.
We're still looking for a place. We've found some places in town and we've found some places in the country that we want to take a closer look at. I'm really attracted to the city at this point (as long as we find the perfect house that is walkable and is close enough to a park that the kids can play outdoors).