Rising gasoline prices affecting daily habits

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by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 7, 2011 at 7:26 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 7 at 6:37 PM

SEATTLE -- Whether it's driving less or going out of their way to find a cheaper gas station, some Seattlites are already changing their daily habits to make room for a few more dollars worth of gas.

"If I could buy something a little cheaper and a little more generic, I might go with that," said Lisa Winston, who was filling up at the Shell Station at 15th and Pike in Seattle.  On Sunday, that location saw one of the highest premium gas prices in town -- $4.17 a gallon.

But even near SW Barton and 15th St SW, where $3.47 a gallon for regular was among the cheapest deals in Seattle, the pumps were still dispensing distress.

"Aw, it's too much, it's a lot, a lot of money," said Kirk Cieszkiewicz.

Nationwide, the spike in oil prices threatens to affect everything from food prices to air travel. The White House Chief of Staff said they are considering tapping strategic oil reserves to stabilize prices, but stress that's only done in rare emergencies.

Part of their concern is that prices going up at the pump could harm the fragile economic recovery.

In just the last month gas prices in Washington state have jumped almost 40 cents a gallon. On Sunday, the average price of regular unleaded was close to $3.65 a gallon.  That's almost 20 cents higher than the national average, which was about $3.50.

Analysts said the unrest in Libya and elsewhere in Africa have contributed to U.S. gas prices that just posted their second-highest two-week gain ever, second only to the increase that came post-Hurricane Katrina.

"I think it's getting a little ridiculous," said Tony Bradshaw, who said he was "eating less, driving less, yeah."

"I drive less, I walk  more," said Cieszkiewicz, who works near the gas station. "Instead of driving the mile between my house and here, I walk a lot."

Washington still has not hit the record high though, set back in July 2008, when gas averaged $4.35 statewide and $4.39 a gallon in Seattle.

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