The most common form of transport that does not require petrol or oil-driven engines is the bicycle. Many people, especially school children and those who cannot afford cars and motorcycle make use of this cheap form of transport. The bicycle is a very simple machine to use. It takes only a short time for an average person to master it. Also, except for inner tubes and tires, hardly any maintenance is required. All one has to do is to hop on to it and pedal off, unless of course if a tire is flat or one does not know how to ride a bicycle.
In big towns and cities, however, the bicycle is not very popular. This may be due to two things. Firstly, the cars and the lorries tend to disregard cyclists on the road and often the poor cyclists are bullied mercilessly. Cyclists have to give way to the charging cars, get honked at, breathe the foul exhaust fumes and dust, get pushed around and often get knocked down by some careless motorist. The other reason is that cycling requires hard work. In the heat of the afternoon sun, it is not an easy task to pick one’s way through heavy traffic besides having to struggle up an offending hill. So usually when a person can afford it even a second-hand motorcycle is clearly a much better alternative to the bicycle.
I have read somewhere that Holland is a country where most people use bicycles. We can do it here in our country provided we restrict the number of cars and lorries in the middle of towns and cities thereby making it a more pleasant experience for the cyclist. However, factors like the sun and the hilly roads may deter fewer fit people from using the bicycle. Nobody likes hard work under a scorching sun.
Besides the bicycle, there is hardly any other kind of non-petrol-based transport that is widely used. Bullock carts and horse-drawn carriages are things of the past. They may well be the means of transport for the future, but the chances are almost nil indeed. Compared to cars, bullock carts are too slow. Furthermore caring for the bulls is again too much work. Nobody likes to step into a pile of cow-dung either.
So, the alternative to the oil-based engine seems to fall on vehicles powered by electricity and solar energy. There is considerable research going on concerning these two forms of transport but economically they are still inferior to the motorcar. Granted a solar-powered aero plane has crossed the English Channel and various other smaller achievements have caught the attention of the public, however, a commercially feasible solar-powered car is still some way off. Maybe one day we may be able to walk into a showroom to buy a solar-powered car, but the day is not here yet.
Electric cars and trains, however, are slowly increasing in number. We now have electric cars and buses being used daily in the more advanced countries. Japan has high-speed electric trains. We still have to wait until electric car technology has reached a level high enough for it to be introduced cheaply and efficiently here.
These two possible alternatives to the motorcar are actually unavoidable, considering the fact that we may run short of oil in the near future. Also, pollution by the motorcars are actually threatening our environment
Other alternatives like vehicles that use hydrogen as a fuel are being developed. The future of these vehicles are still uncertain, More work needs to be done.
As far as nuclear power is concerned, l hope we do not have to use it. It is too uncontrollable a source of energy that we can well do without it. Considering the mood of the younger generation towards nuclear power I do not think that it will be used as commonly as we use oil now.
There may even be better forms of transport that will be developed in the future. No one knows exactly what they will be. We will know when they arrive.