What is the overall energy expenditure of your transportation system ... what is the best way to increase that efficiency?
for some people the bicycle is part of the answer...
Copenhagen ... check out the movie. (I assume Corinne, Jeff and Bjarne will comment).
Our own township has a few core shopping areas that are within a two mile commute of about half the population. Some nice bike and walking paths have been created - almost all of our grocery shopping is down via walking these days (only 1.7 miles for us). The number of people who take advantage of these features is very low ... perhaps $4 gas will change that a bit.
One has to wonder what a penny a gallon on gas devoted to human transportation would do (we currently use nearly 150 billion gallons of gas a year, so this would be $1.5 billion a year. In our township bike paths cost between $10,000 and $25,000 a mile). I'm sure some political groups would complain that this would destroy budgets, but the benefits of having some people use human powered vehicles for short trips could be very high - from improved health, to CO2 reduction, to less money being shipped out of the country and more money being made available for uses other than transport. Perhaps the value of your town would be enhanced if it was bicycle friendly ...
Another interesting question -- are there designers capable of creating extremely desirable devices - is there an "ipod" of HPVs? Is there a Ferrari?
note. when you do calculations for short trips, you can't assume your gas or diesel car is working at reasonable efficiency. A cold engine gets terrible economy - a friend measured 11 mpg on a cold three mile commute to and from work on a car that had a 26 mpg EPA rating.