People pedalling, E-biking and parking as gas prices rise

The success of the LRT will depend in part on its popularity with riders. As near record gas prices hit drivers, new public transit could get a boost.

The average gas price across Canada right now is $1.33.  That's the highest average we've seen in nearly four years but there is good news on the horizon at least in the short term.

The sticker shock, at $1.34 a litre at most Ottawa gas stations, is enough to make you want to stop driving.  Well, almost.

“How high will it go before you park your car?” Madison Moore is asked as she fills up her vehicle at a station in east end Ottawa, “I need my car, so it’s not an option,” she says.

“When you rely on your car so much, there's no dollar you're not going to pay,” adds Natasha Jamieson.

Gas prices have been on a steady and dramatic climb over the last few weeks.  But petroleum analyst Dan McTeague says they appear to be peaking.

“We could see prices move down one or two cents a litre,” says McTeague, who runs a website called GasBuddy.com, “That's on the wholesale side.  That means at the high end, you may not be seeing prices not much higher than $1.34 and at low end, about $1.20 by the weekend.”

That's the good news.  That bad news is that it is not going to last. There are options to gas powered vehicles and one of them is the E-Bike.  They are hugely popular in Europe where gas prices are really high and they are catching on here as well. Full Cycle, a bike shop in Ottawa’s east end, sold 3 in all of 2017 and so far this year, have sold that many in just a few months.

“Right here, we've got 82% battery power and it can go 126 km right now,” says Matti Pihlainen, as he demonstrates how an E-Bike works. The bikes are powered by a battery but the user can cycle as well.  They're not cheap but they are economical.

“A good E-Bike is $3000,” explains Pihlainen, “If you're paying every month for parking, you've paid for the bike in 2 years, let alone the gas you're saving, and depending on traffic, it can be faster to ride downtown.”

Then, of course, there is the old-fashioned pedal power and more folks are hopping on with the hike in gas prices.

“I do it to save money,” says cyclist Danielle Rutty, “I don't pay for parking or gas. I try to do groceries on my bike, too.”

“It's definitely the cheapest, most affordable way to get around,” adds another cyclist, “and during rush hour, probably faster.”

As you've noticed gas prices fluctuate even on daily basis. Dan McTeague says the best time to fill up is on evenings and if you can wait it out, Saturday and Sunday evenings are better yet.

McTeague says while prices are expected to drop this weekend, they are likely to bounce back up as we head into the summer with some of the highest prices we will have seen in 3 years.