Here's another quote from Oil on the Brain (and keep in mind this excellent book from Lisa Margonelli came out a few years ago):
If we bought gasoline the way people buy widgets in Economics 101, we'd stop consuming gasoline when prices spike, reducing demand ... But that's not what's happening .... Drivers either can't cut back or they don't know how to...
Now that gas prices have hovered just over $4 a gallon for several weeks, we're seeing that just begin to change. Higher prices have, in fact, shocked some of us out of the mindset that taking any trip means driving a car. Car miles traveled have dropped. Transit and Amtrak ridership are up. I'm seeing a lot more bicycles most places I go.
Higher gas prices do create some economic hardship, but there's a big silver lining to those costs going up. They inspire us to seek the dozens of other ways there are to travel.