OAKLAND — Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the gas station with prices gently subsiding, crude oil swelled to its all-time high Monday at nearly $60 a barrel — no doubt a harbinger of surging gasoline prices to come.

So we asked some folks around town in Oakland why they think the cost of oil continues to go up, up and up, way beyond reason. And how it might affect them in their daily lives.

"It's politics. It's greed. It's big corporations. That's how it works," said an emphatic Carole Minoot of Walnut Creek.

"I usually don't do too many road trips, but prices going up again would definitely discourage me from taking even shorter trips down to Southern California and Arizona this summer. I'll just keep taking BART every day to work. The high prices have got me sold on BART."

"Oil must be harder to get right now, is why it's going up again," said Leonard Camden of San Lorenzo. "I'll probably take one less trip to the store. Combine trips. That's all you can do." Charles Johnson, 50, of Oakland is certain the record-high oil prices have "something to do with the war," he said.

"They're holding the oil back to make the prices go up. What you see is not always what it is. It's a smoke screen. They've got the oil, but they're holding onto it. Isn't that what we went to war for?

"Gas is never gonna go under $2 a gallon anymore anyway," Johnson added, shaking his head. "Those days are gone. Everything else goes up too — cost of living, taxes. It'll never come down, so we have to get used to it. I'll just walk more. It's more exercise."

Steve Minellone, 38, of Pinole said the problem comes from the fact that the oil industry is not regulated by the government.

He added that ever-increasing gas prices "would make me think twice before buying a high-end, high-consumption vehicle like an SUV, that's for sure."

"Why isn't the government saying this is a disaster, and we need to reduce consumption?" asked Hilary Fox, 40, of Oakland.

"Instead, they say we'll just drill the Arctic national wildlife areas so people can drive Hummers. Apparently, that's the solution.

"I got my bike fixed up two weeks ago, so I'll be biking more anyway," she said. "And I would do it even more if we had better bike paths in Oakland."