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Fairy godmothers need not apply

Hydrogen-fuel cell cars and hard-shoulder running – just what we need, a 'magic wand' solution to all our transport problems. Well, maybe not all.

After all, those hydrogen powered cars will clog up our roads and urban spaces just as effectively as their petrol powered cousins, the drivers will be just as fat and unhealthy, and the children who they drive into will be no more likely to survive the encounter.

All those extra cars crawling down the hard shoulder will have to get to the motorway along the roads that lead past our houses and schools, our communities will be just as effectively severed as ever, and parents just as reluctant to allow their children out into the streets.

Problem enlarged seems more appropriate. But people will have a ready excuse for not making any positive changes to their own lifestyles while they wait for that unaffordable technological fix to save the world for them.

The real solution is simple – people need to choose to live closer to where they work and shop, to drive less, to walk and cycle more and to use public transport. In short, to travel as we did a generation ago, before the immense advances in communications reduced our need to travel at all. Fairy godmother not required.

ALISDAIR MASSIE, alasdair_massie@LineOne.net

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