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Old 09-01-2007, 04:26 PM   #1
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What about parking lots and short trips?

I've gotten decent at the basics, having found pretty much all the glide slopes on my commutes. I'm pretty good at getting a consistent 32-36mpg on these routes, which involves gentle rolling hills and no freeways. But here's my problem: my tanks always range in the mid-20's because of shorter trips as well as rolling around in the parking lot at school looking for a space. I already try t combine trips so as to avoid shorter errands. What else can I do to improve these areas of my commute?
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Old 09-01-2007, 05:01 PM   #2
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Quit rolling around in parking lots and go to the far end in the first place, as that's what ends up happening 90% of the time anyway.
On errand trips, yeah, but at school it's a whole different beast.
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:46 AM   #3
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Oh, I remember school. Most of the time there was no spot whatsoever in the lot as they vastly oversold permits vs. available spaces. It got to where I didn't even waste my money of permits and went straight for street parking.

I wish that were a possibility too. They've bundled parking privileges with the tuition, so you can't have one without the other. There's really no street parking to speak of, anyway, at least not close enough to warrant getting up another half-hour earlier to walk...

Anybody got anything else I haven't thought of? There's gotta be something!
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by jcp123 View Post
tanks always range in the mid-20's because of shorter trips as well as rolling around in the parking lot
A good block heater is a partial remedy to the short trip FE hit.

As for the parking lot dilemma, I won't orbit looking for a space. Some thoughts...

- just head for the hinterland and park far away (not an option if the lot is packed & no street parking)

- head to the high side of the lot, then coast down (if grade permits) while looking for your spot

- stop the car where you have a view of people returning to their cars and wait for a spot to open up instead of orbiting (not an option if there's a lot of competition waiting/orbiting)
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:01 AM   #5
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I've got the exact same problem. Solved it here by getting a bike. Faster to bike that distance than to drive and try to park.

But for you, I don't know how your campus is, but get there ten or so minutes early and park in the booney lot. (For me at IPFW, it's the north lot that nobody likes to park in because it's far away) The convenient lots are ALWAYS packed and impossible to park in, so instead of trying to get an inconvenient spot in a convenient lot, go to an inconvenient lot, and walk an extra ten minutes if need be.

Gets exercise in, too.

If nothing else, whatever you guys end up finding out to help FE in those situations, tell me, too...
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:03 AM   #6
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Short trip = no car necessary

Find a bike on Craigslist (or elsewhere)

My rule recently has been.... If the car doesn't fully warm up (according to SG) on a local trip, I shouldn't have driven there.

------
Now, for the "Can't avoid driving situation"

Immediately go for the first spot you find, preferably one you can pull through. I find that if I idle in 5th, I get something in the upper 40's low 50's FE. That's moving a bit fast for a small parking lot though.

I still say get a bike You'll get comfortable in traffic really quick.
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:28 PM   #7
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My attitude toward FE is to get the best FE I can without being unreasonable. I'm very fortunate that 90% of the people around where I live drive under the speed limit. I used to find this extremely infuriating as I used to drive no less than 15 miles over the speed limit and could not understand for the life of me how anyone could drive any slower than that. Now I am happy to putt along at 40mph in a 40 zone and everyone else around me for the most part are happy to as well. And I often have opportunities to pull away from them if they are on my tail when a hill comes by coasting down it and not breaking when I end up at 55mph. As for parking lots, if you are like me and have a 1.5 litre engine the FE hit shouldn't be soo bad at 10mph. Another way I look at it is any engine off coasting I do down hills makes up for dinking around with parallel parking, school parking lots, or idling through town at 5mph. With a Ford Focus, shouldn't you be able to get better than 32mpg? I dunno what sorta mileage the car gets, I would think 40 wouldn't be that hard tho. I hope to get 60mpg with my current tank. And frankly, I'll be disappointed if I don't, because the 28 mile route I drive each way to school is pretty good for FE. 35mph, 40mph and 45mph the whole way for speed limits. Granted I am making up for 80 miles of interstate driving at 75mph at the beginning of the tank. Still, even with that obstacle, I should be able to get the average up to 60mpg by the end of the tank with this car. After all, that'd only be 5mpg above old EPA! Of course I need to get some decent tires on these rims. The fronts are $35 tires from Walmart. They look very knobby.
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Old 09-06-2007, 08:56 AM   #8
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I'd love to have a bike...live out in the boonies, though, with the nearest grocery store 6.6 miles away. Not inconceivable, but the drivers on these country roads scare me half to death + it'd be a while until I'm in good enough shape to ride up and down the hills. My short trips are usually when I'm already in town, for instance going from campus to the other campus to work to the bank. I might be living in Chicagoland after I graduate, so that would open up some possibility of being able to bike more / use mass transit.

The block heater's interesting, too. What's involved in putting one of those in?

Now, using high spots I like. The lot where I park doesn't really have any, but I may be able to find another one that has a few. I'd lose the convenience of literally having my car 100ft away from all three of my classes, but it'd be worth it to finally start breaking 30mpg. As for competition in the parking lots, there's only one that's really competitive, but it's the one with the best opportunity for viewing but I'll start to scout/experiment and see where that takes me.

I did figure one thing out: a lot of my hit isn't in the parking lot proper, but rather on the little street that rings campus. It's a slow street, probably about 15mph max over the speedbumps, but the bumps are oddly and widely placed to where it feels weird to not accelerate between them. If I have enough discipline (and can stand Joe Cool in his pickup taligating me), I'll see if I can't pick up some ground by holding a more steady speed.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:38 AM   #9
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My short trips are usually when I'm already in town, for instance going from campus to the other campus to work to the bank.
Ever seen the mass transit buses with the bike racks up front? No reason you couldn't mimic that: bring a bike into town in the car and use it after you've parked in the campus lot. Having a folding bike helps.

Quote:
The block heater's interesting, too. What's involved in putting one of those in?
It's a big "depends". Depends on what kind you get, where it's mounted, and then how much clearance you have to work. I've done 3 installations that varied from moderate to difficult (because of lack of clearance mostly).

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It's a slow street, probably about 15mph max over the speedbumps, but the bumps are oddly and widely placed to where it feels weird to not accelerate between them.
Sounds like an ideal pulse & glide scenario.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:48 AM   #10
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I was just batting around the idea of having a bike in-town on CMPG and finding somewhere to chain it up at night...I'll have to look into that.
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