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Readers Say Botanical Garden & Zoo Are Favorite ZMD Institutions

Last week readers selected their favorite two institutions in the Zoo-Museum District (original post) .

Missouri Botanical Garden, June 2011
Missouri Botanical Garden, June 2011
St. Louis Zoo
St. Louis Zoo

Here are the results:

Q: Which TWO (2) institutions in the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District are your favorites?

  1. Missouri Botanical Garden 98 [31.61%]
  2. Saint Louis Zoological Park 94 [30.32%]
  3. Saint Louis Art Museum 77 [24.84%]
  4. Missouri History Museum 22 [7.1%]
  5. Saint Louis Science Center 18 [5.81%]
  6. Unsure/No Answer 1 [0.32%]

The botanical gardens are my favorite, but I’ve spent a lot of time at events at the history museum. I haven’t been to the zoo in 20 years, but I’ll go again this year.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Rarely Rent Cars

ABOVE: The Enterprise Rent-A-Car location on Washington Ave, just east of Jefferson Ave
ABOVE: The Enterprise Rent-A-Car location on Washington Ave, just east of Jefferson Ave

Nearly two-thirds of readers last week indicated they never or rarely rent a car (original post).

How Often Do You Rent A Car?

  1. Never 18 [23.38%]
  2. Rarely 32 [41.56%]
  3. Occasionally 22 [28.57%]
  4. Constantly 5 [6.49%]

St. Louis-based Enterprise is the largest in the rental car business:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car was established in St. Louis, Missouri in 1957 by Jack C. Taylor. Originally known as “Executive Leasing Company”, in 1962 Taylor renamed the company “Enterprise” after the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which he served on during World War II. The current company was formed in 2009 following Enterprise’s 2007 acquisition of Vanguard Automotive Group, the parent company of National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car. (Wikipedia)

But this month a new company started offering rental car service in Dallas’ DFW airport that may shake up the industry:

Booking a reservation is as easy as picking a location (for now, just DFW), and selecting a date and time for pickup and return. Users can specify their flight details, but it’s not necessary. This information can also be added on Silvercar’s website, including profile information or reservation info. But since using the service requires the app for unlocking the vehicle, potential customers shouldn’t try to book anything unless they have an iPhone or Android phone and can download the app.

Yes, the process is based around a smartphone app. Most likely anyone that can afford $110/day to rent an Audi A4 is carrying a smartphone. Many car sharing services also use the customer’s smartphone to unlock the car so extending it to airport rentals is a logical next step.

— Steve Patterson


The 2013 St. Louis Auto Show

Fuel economy is mentioned often in this year’s St. Louis Auto Show, which started yesterday and runs through 5pm Sunday.

ABOVE: Sign at the Toyota display
ABOVE: Sign at the Toyota display

No wonder really, given the views of today’s auto buyers:

15% of those surveyed said that fuel economy was their #1 criteria in choosing a new car, but as low as that figure sounds, it still outranked styling, reliability, and cost. In other words: fuel economy is leading the pack, but not by much. (Christian Science Monitor)

Consider where we were in 2008:

The cost of gas in June of 2008, the early stages of the heavy summer driving season and during the presidential campaign, was $4.10 per gallon. The 2008 gas crisis hit its peak one month later with prices averaging $4.11 per gallon. (CBS News/Face the Nation)

By December 2008:

Gas prices declined for the sixth straight day on Thursday, falling below the $1.65 per gallon, according to a national survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations. (CNN Money

Currently the national average is around $3.31/gal (AAA).

This focus on fuel economy is partly a response to consumer demand but also to higher standards announced by the Obama Administration in August 2012:

The standards — which mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year — will increase the pressure on auto manufacturers to step up development of electrified vehicles as well as sharply improve the mileage of their mass-market models through techniques like more efficient engines and lighter car bodies.

Current rules for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, program mandate an average of about 29 miles per gallon, with gradual increases to 35.5 m.p.g. by 2016. (NY Times)

I’m glad to see manufacturers and consumers on the same page.

ABOVE: Chrysler products continued their "Imported from Detroit" theme
ABOVE: Chrysler products continued their “Imported from Detroit” theme
ABOVE: Ford featured the small Fiesta on its first display
ABOVE: Ford featured the small Fiesta on its first display
ABOVE: The Tesla Model S is in the Eco area
ABOVE: The Tesla Model S is in the Eco area

The annual show is billed as the “largest automobile event in the St. Louis area, the 2013 Saint Louis Auto Show features more than 500 new cars, trucks, SUVs and luxury vehicles from over 25 manufacturers all under one roof.”  Maybe, but some weren’t  present: Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, BMW, and Porsche.

Still, the show is a great place to see many cars in one place. It runs noon-10pm today, 10am-10pm Saturday, and 10am-5pm Sunday.

— Steve Patterson


No Ethanol

I haven’t written about the gasoline vs ethanol debate since 2008 (100% Gas Sold Here) but I was reminded again in Oklahoma last week. My brother wanted to make sure we could get gasoline instead of “alcohol.” He was buying the fuel for the rental car so I didn’t question it.

ABOVEL; No ethanol pumps are very clearly marked in Oklsahoma
ABOVEL; No ethanol pumps are very clearly marked in Oklahoma

Pure gasoline advocates say the vehicle runs better and goes farther on a gallon. Gasoline in St. Louis is actually E10 or E15, a blend of mostly gasoline with some ethanol, aka gasohol.

Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel made by fermenting and distilling starch crops, such as corn. It can also be made from “cellulosic biomass” such as trees and grasses. The use of ethanol can reduce our dependence upon foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

E10 (gasohol)

E10 (also called “gasohol”) is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline sold in many parts of the country. All auto manufacturers approve the use of blends of 10% ethanol or less in their gasoline vehicles. However, vehicles will typically go 3–4% fewer miles per gallon on E10 than on straight gasoline. (fueleconomy.gov)

The rental car was actually a GM flex fuel vehicle so we could’ve filled up with E85.

ABOVE: Three of the 6-8 pumps at this 7-11 were ethanol-free
ABOVE: Three of the 6-8 two-sided pumps at this 7-11 were ethanol-free

Ethanol is touted as a reducing pollution as well as being domestically produced, reducing dependance on foreign oil. The 100% gasoline costs a bit more per gallon, but again you can go farther on each gallon. Thoughts?

— Steve Patterson


Icy Sidewalks Hard To Navigate In Power Chair

Winter weather has arrived, my first post-stroke winter without a car. I can bundle up to deal with cold temperatures, but modest snow can leave me stranded at home or looking for alternate routes.

ABOiVE: Our recent light snow made this stretch of sidewalk along Olive nearly impassable.
ABOiVE: Our recent light snow made this stretch of sidewalk along Olive nearly impassable.

I frequently take the sidewalk along Olive (above) from 16th to 14th to reach transit options. I passed over the ice you see but it was very rough, not easy on my power chair. If we’d have had more snow I couldn’t have gotten through this way.

I’ll learn which sidewalks get cleared and which do not, altering my route to avoid problem areas.

— Steve Patterson