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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Novel ways to beat the blockade
If the fuel blockades mean your petrol gauge is stuck on "empty", how are you planning to get to work?

For millions of people, public transport may sound like the best alternative when car petrol tanks run dry. But why follow the crowd?

For those lacking inspiration, BBC News Online offers some novel suggestions.

Micro Skate Scooter

Woman on a scooter
"Slow down, Robbie! I can't keep up!"
Just when it seemed the craze for these ubiquitous shiny metal scooters had reached its zenith, the fuel crisis has given adults another excuse to relive their youth.

Despite safety fears and the growing ire of some pedestrians, as many as 25,000 of the fold-away aluminium contraptions have been sold in the UK since July.

With the scooter "in-crowd" including everyone from Robbie Williams to Angela Rippon, there seems little to stop any petrol-starved driver making the transition.

This option may not suit City types looking to replace their Bentleys, Jags and Aston Martins. The City of London Corporation has declared war on the scooters, vowing to find a way to ban them from its walkways.

Sinclair C5

Motorised tricycle
"My other car's a C5, honest."
Mention British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair, and people are more likely to hoot with laughter about his ill-fated electric tricycle, the C5, than remember happy hours spent over the squidgy keyboard of a ZX Spectrum computer.

Though now collector's items, back in 1985 the single-seat C5 proved a commercial disaster. Few people were won over by Sir Clive's protestations that the vehicle's electric washing machine engine - aided by a bit of pedal-power on the sharp inclines - would clear up urban air pollution.

Many, including the British Safety Council, feared owners of the 15mph recumbent C5 would end up in the tread of lorry tyres. With the roads clearing, and environmental concerns on the rise, will Sir Clive at last be vindicated?


Penny farthing bicycle
Time to dust off your old bike?
Who needs petrol when you've got pedal power? The humble bicycle could be the answer for millions of stranded people.

According to the Bicycle Association of Great Britain, more than half of households have at least one bike and there are about 20 million bicycles in the county. But how many can remember where they left their beloved bone shaker?

Despite the impressive ownership figures, less than 1% of distance travelled is by bicycle. It's time to rummage through your garden shed and reacquaint yourself with puncture repair techniques. "Now where did I last see the French chalk?"


Former e-envoy Alex Allan
City types, use your liquid assets
Anyone who works near a stretch of water might take a leaf out of the book of Alex Allan, the former e-envoy appointed by Tony Blair.

Not to be defeated by a rail strike in the 1980s, Mr Allan donned his pinstripes and a bowler hat - presumabely with a wet suit underneath - and windsurfed down the River Thames to his office at HM Treasury.

Horse and cart

Steptoe and Son
"Get the horse, we're back in business."
If you can weather the "Steptoe and Son" jibes, this could be the solution for you.

There have already been some "early adopters" namely Bosses of Outland near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. The company has a fleet of two vans for deliveries, but as diesel supplies dried up it turned to horsepower of another kind to keep customers satisfied.


Without petrol it may feel like the UK has stepped back a century, but where are all the transport solutions of yesteryear?

"Home, and don't spare the horses!"
Horse-drawn Hackney cabs and sedan chairs are no more, but the equally low-tech rickshaw has had a renaissance of late.

Rickshaws - or more exactly, pedicabs - are now a common sight in cities across the UK. As well as London and Oxford, new schemes began this summer in Newcastle and Bolton.

They may be hip - "bad boy" author Will Self recently made urban rickshaws the centrepiece of an experimental work of fiction - but don't expect to experience leisurely "Raj" style for your 3 per mile.

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson says her trip on a rickshaw was "a real white-knuckle ride".

Spouse power

If there are no rickshaws to hand, an even lower-tech solution remains. Ask Birgit Ulrich.

Margo Uusorg carries Birgit Ulrich
"Could we stop at the dry-cleaners first, love?"
The Estonian is a bona fide record holder, being one half of the reigning World Wife-Carrying Championship team.

The crash-helmeted adventurer simply had to take it easy as Margo Uusorg negotiated a 235-metre obstacle course in Sonkajarvi, Finland.

If you find it difficult convincing your partner to offer their services, try tantalising them with a reward to match that Mr Uusorg received for his efforts. Birgit's weight in beer.



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