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domingo, junio 29, 2008

The End Of The World: Across America Cruising Dies

It's another sign of the End of the World. The NY Times writes the obituary for summertime teenage cruising:
For car-loving American teenagers, this is turning out to be the summer the cruising died.

Kevin Ballschmiede, 16, pined for his 1999 Dodge Ram — “my pride and joy” — the other night as he hung out in a parking lot in this town outside Chicago. Given that filling the 26-gallon tank can now cost more than $100, he had left it at home and caught a ride.

From coast to coast, American teenagers appear to be driving less this summer. Police officers who keep watch on weekend cruising zones say fewer youths are spending their time driving around in circles, with more of them hanging out in parking lots, malls or movie theaters.

The price spike in gasoline, to an average of $4.07 a gallon for regular unleaded, is so recent that government statistics do not yet capture the teenage-driving trend. But the figures show that overall demand for gasoline is dropping. In dozens of interviews, teenagers and their parents said the price of gasoline was forcing hard choices on them.
I could've told you this. I'm seeing it in my own household. My daughter's driving a 2000 Honda Civic. It gets really good mileage. But gas is $4.169/gallon. The tank holds 12 gallons. A 10 gallon fill up is $41.69. This will put a helluva hole in a student's budget and lifestyle, let alone the budget of adults who have families to support.
Perhaps the summer’s most visible change is occurring in the downtown strips of small towns where, for decades, cruising on Friday and Saturday nights has been a teenage rite of passage. It is a peculiarly American phenomenon — driving around in a big loop, listening to music, waving at one another and wasting gasoline.

“We’re not cruising around anymore, with gas costing $4.50 a gallon,” said Ewelina Smosna, a recent graduate of Taft High School in Chicago, as she hung out the other night at the Streets of Woodfield, an outdoor mall in Schaumburg. “We just park the car and walk around.”

According to police officers in towns like Elkhart, Ind.; Grand Haven, Mich.; and Mount Pleasant, S.C., traffic has dropped markedly on cruise nights.

“Teen cruising is way down from 2005, when it used to be bumper to bumper downtown,” said David Scott, a senior officer in Grand Haven, a popular resort town hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline. “Traffic downtown used to be so bad in the summer, you couldn’t drive faster than 10 miles an hour. Last Friday night, I didn’t even have to wait in line to get through a light.”
Remember this? Well, soon it will be gone.

May cruisin' rest in peace.

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