Monday 20 September 2010

The solution to congestion caused by cars....

.... apparently are smaller cars according to this rather gushing article on the BBC website.

"Imagine a car so narrow that two can drive next to each other in one lane; a car so small and short that three can park in one parking space." starts with and continues in this enthusiastic vein until pretty much the end of the article.
Clearly a smaller car that is more fuel economical and made from more recycled material is better than one that isn't, but it isn't going to save the planet. Or indeed make huge amounts of difference to congestion since the road system will still remain at the same dimensions unless everyone chooses this type of car (and HGVs etc. are also scaled down). And here also is the nub of the issue - the reason that this type of venture, no matter how cleverly engineered or designed, is going to really struggle. The fact is that people buy larger cars to feel safer  on our roads where the law of the jungle so often applies.
Of course, no-one is mentioning what the cars will run on - presumably, in the absence of a hydrogen infrastructure, fossil fuels will still play a big part. And even if hydrogen is used, the current methods of generating the hydrogen are hardly an environmentalists dream.
The final part of the article really holds the key to what this new car is about. The company has developed a new production process which is greener, but also less costly than convential production and so lowers the cost of entry for companies looking to make cars. The process could make any type of car, it would appear, so the "green" car at the start of the article seems to become less relevant than first thought.
People driving smaller cars won't help congestion. A minute or twos thought on this should show the fallacy of the argument. What we need is a simple machine that is versatile, cheap, incredibly efficient at converting effort into forward motion, and compact. Something that can easily be used for those 5 mile or less journeys so many of us do using a car.
If only someone could invent something like that.....

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