Search This Blog

Monday, February 2, 2009

Free Gas at My Grocery Store?

This past Saturday, I was shopping at the Safeway in Laurel Lakes. Upon checkout, I received a surprise: $9 worth of gas at any BP station, a figure based on the amount of money I had spent on groceries over my last few trips. I was completely unaware of this program until the cashier handed me a gift card. The program gives $1.50 in gas for every $100 spent at Safeway. For me, 9 bucks is about a third of a tank, which will get me to and from work for an entire week.

This is a powerful sentiment presented by Safeway. To me, this implies that Safeway's business model assumes that consumers MUST use an automobile (and a gasoline powered one, at that) to use their stores, and therefore ought to subsidize automobiles. Personally, I would prefer imrpved crosswalks on Rt. 1 and better passage through the monstrous parking lot in front of Laurel Lakes Shopping Center. I would never drive to Safeway again. This furthers the notion that large grocery store chains ignore walkable urbanism in their business models despite its success in denser areas. In less dense places like Laurel, I'd like to see the two concepts at least coexist.

This has other implications. Since such grocery stores tend to be far fewer in areas with lower average incomes, this implies that a gas subsidy is the best way to get less fortunate people to the grocery store. In the automobile paradigm, this is somewhat of a charitable act on Safeway's part. However, not owning a car could save working class individuals a very significant percentage of their monthly take-home salary (25% for me!) , a savings that would far supercede the buck and a half I save on gas every time I spend a hundred dollars at Safeway.

I don't want to demonize the automobile. I own one, I use it daily, and I enjoy the freedom that driving provides. However I live 1600 feet from the entrance of the Laurel Lakes Safeway, and the only "safe way" for me to get there is to drive. I don't want to impose any major paradigm shift on anyone, nor do I want to take away their free gas or the parking in front of the store. For this particular shopping trip (which was rather large), I probably would have used a car no matter what the pedestrian facilities were. However, the simple fact that I can't walk 1600 feet from the grocery store to my house without risking my life in the process is inexcusable, and I really wish my local grocery store would acknowledge that this is a problem.


Anonymous said...

I hope you're sending a letter to this effect to Safeway.

Dave Murphy said...

I haven't yet, but I am currently checking out what might be the best way to voice this opinion to the company. Once I do, I will post how I do and what I say.

Anonymous said...

Allow me a gentle tut-tut for a second, then offer a solution.

Tut tut:
Directly behind the Safeway, in Laurel City, are multiple, tree-lined, walkable neighborhoods with sidewalks on both sides of the streets, a varied mix of housing stock, and streets with very low vehicle volumes and speeds. You look young enough, such that the above-mentioned neighborhoods pre-date your homebuying decision...Just sayin'.

Potential solution:
Write MD-SHA (district 3). Tell them you would like re-painted crosswalks across US1 where it intersects with Cypress. Ask for the big fat crosswalk hatch lines like those found in DC. It can't hurt - the cost of paint or hot-tape is minimal. That location already has a pedestrian push-button, so you should be okay in that department, but you could always shoot for the moon and ask for one of those fancy countdown timers like they have as Main/US1.

Dave Murphy said...

Tut-tut accepted, however, those houses were all out of my price range when I purchased my home on enlisted Army pay in 2003. I really wanted to purchase in old Laurel, but I did not have the money.

I would not be satisfied with just a crosswalk at Cypress for a number of reasons, though it would be a start. My neighborhood (Oakcrest) has very narrow streets with no curbs or sidewalks, which is a mental block to walking anywhere. Furthermore, I think there ought to be AT LEAST one more signaled crosswalk between Cypress and Mulberry, as they are 3/4 mile apart from each other. The intersection at Cypress has no median/pedestrian refuge, and the east side of the street has a steep hill that usually stacks with cars. Again, there are no crosswalks on that side of Cypress. This is still a rather unsafe (and circuitous; it increases the distance traveled from 1600 feet as-the-crow-flies to almost 4000 feet door to door) route to get from my house to my grocery store with my wagon.

fourthandeye said...

Seems to me Safeway should just offer an equivalent grocery coupon rather than one targeted towards transportation.

Anonymous said...

thank u, will its nice that there are people giving this information of how to get or find a ways to get value about gas and the groceries...