Touring by Car and Motorbike

travel information for UK and European roads -traffic jams, breakdown insurance, eco car hire and car manufacturers.
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More Sustainable Motor Travel

With the huge number of cars now on the streets (well over 200 million in the EEC), you might feel that the age of the Grand Tour by car or bike through the open roads of Europe is a thing of the past. Nonetheless it is still it is relatively easy to get your car across the water and on to the quieter roads still found in Northern, Eastern and Southern Europe, not to mention those of Ireland. See our page on sea travel for details of cross channel ferry companies.

There are also a range of opportunities to get your car deep into Europe by train. The Eurotunnel will deliver your car on the other side of the channel, and Rail Europe will arrange for French Motorail to take your car from Calais to the Nice and five other destinations in the south of France. German motorail operator, DB AutoZug, can carry you between 16 destinations in Germany, France, Italy and Austria, and the Dutch Autoslaap Train runs from the Netherlands to Avignon, Bologna and Livorno. Sadly a number of countries seem to fail to get their act together on Motorrail trains, and some routes are restricted to summer only.

Nowhere has the environmental debate been felt more keenly than in the world of motoring. The effects of pollution, C02 emissions from combustion engines, oil running out and congestion have frequently been in the headlines. Current estimates put the worlds oil as lasting another 40 years, but more significantly Peak Oil production is estimated to be much sooner -perhaps as soon as the 2020s. This is the time when oil production starts to decline, leading to runaway inflation in oil prices and shortage through protectionism by the oil producing countries.

The car manufacturers are no longer ignoring environmental issues, and with virtually every manufacturer rushing to get on the green bandwagon, it is difficult to know which is the best type of ecocar to buy. Cars operated by new energy systems are now readily available -there are engines powered by Liquid Petroleum Gas, biofuels, hybrid and electric engines on the market -try Green Car Guide.com for an assessment of current models. Your next car may well be an ecocar, so why not hire one on holiday to see how you get on? In fact there are now companies offering ecocars as taxis and for wedding hire, so there are lots of opportunities to use one.

Some ways to make your motoring greener:

  • avoid short journeys.
  • avoid travelling in rush hours.
  • let the kids walk to school.
  • know what speed your car is most economical at.
  • join a car share scheme.
  • leave your car at home once a week.
  • work at home once a week.
  • hire an eco car for your holiday -it will give you chance to try one out and probably save money too.
  • wash your car less often and use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Travel information

Motoring organisations

Eco Car hire

  • Avis -worldwide car rental network -they now offer the Toyota Prius in the UK. In Germany you can hire a natural gas powered Touran, Portugal the hybrid petrol electric Honda Civic and in Sweden an ethanol fuelled Saab.
  • Climatecars -London's eco friendly taxi service uses the hybrid Toyota Prius.
  • Eco Chauffeur -make a statement by using luxury car hire that doesn't cost the earth.
  • Eco Wedding Car -hire a hybrid luxury car for your special day.
  • Fox Rent a Car -rents hybrid cars in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco and Orange County.
  • Free Wheel Travellers -conceived by travellers, Jennifer, Mark and Simon, following an around the world trip, who have begun to build small campervans for people to explore Europe in. The idea is that people save money and impact on travelling together in a fun, basic campervan which meets legislation requirements.
  • Green Tomato Cars -hire a hybrid Toyota Prius in London.
  • Go Green Car -offer a fleet of Toyota Prius and Lexus RX hybrid vehicles to hire in London.
  • Hertz -the world's largest and longest established vehicle rental, Hertz offer the option to select a car from their 'green collection' of cars that achieve better than140g/km CO2 output.
  • Maui Rentals -bio diesel beetles for hire in Hawaii.

Car share schemes:

  • Lift Share -a social enterprise set up in 1997 with the initial aim of making more efficient use of the millions of empty cars on UK roads by encouraging and enabling more people to share their car journeys.
  • carshare.com -a directory of UK car sharing schemes organised by region.
  • villagecarshare.com -car share for rural communities.
  • nationalcarshare.co.uk -long established national car sharing network.
  • 2carshare.com -local authorities of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire teamed up with liftshare to form an innovative partnership.
  • Eco Car Shop -environmentally friendly car cleaning materials and waterless car washing.

Buying a Car

TV and Magazines

  • Auto Express -news, road tests, previews and features.
  • BBC Motoring -BBC lifestyle with advice on all aspects of driving.
  • Classic Motor online -classifieds, for events, for spares & services aimed at the enthusiast.
  • George Monbiot -articles by the campaigning Guardian writer -a wide range of topics on environmental issues, but look in particular in the transport heading.
  • Top Gear -Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC -anathema to everything green.

Car manufacturers


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