As I rode home on the bus, returning from my second meeting with CEAC (Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee), I carried in my bag a heavy stash of ammunition. Not bullets, but colorful flyers that were distributed to committee members by Dan Huff, Supervisor of Environmental Services for the City of Minneapolis. The flyers outline the new anti-idling ordinance that I have been attempting to enforce by knocking brazenly on car windows. Not only do I now have in my possession an official flyer to hand to idling drivers, I am also better informed.
I learned from Dan Huff that the thing to do when you encounter a car or truck in violation – that is, idling for more than 3 minutes (5 minutes for diesel trucks and buses) – is to call 311 and report the license plate number. The city will send the owner of the vehicle a ticket...for $200. That’s the fine. 200 big ones.
The more considerate thing to do, if the driver is in the vehicle, is to alert him or her to the ordinance, offer them a flyer, point out the amount of the fine, and ask that they turn off the engine. If they don’t (and especially if they are nasty), then report them. See what I mean about ammunition?
The flyer dispels some fallacies. For instance:
1. Restarting your car uses less fuel than idling for more than 10 seconds. In other words, it is more fuel-efficient to stop and restart your engine than to idle it (unless you plan on idling for less than 10 seconds).
2. It takes most car engines less than 30 seconds to warm up.
3. Exhaust from an idling vehicle releases more pollutants than exhaust from a moving vehicle.
Here are some pertinent facts from the flyer and website:
1. Most cars will consume a quarter of a gallon of gas for every 15 minutes of idling. If gas costs $2/gallon, that’s more than $.03 per minute out the tailpipe.
2. Idling excessively can damage parts of your engine.
3. Vehicle exhaust is hazardous to our health – especially children’s health.
4. Carbon dioxide from vehicle exhaust is a major contributor to global warming.
I’m grateful to the city (and to the work of CEAC, prior to my joining it) for passing this ordinance. I’ll do my part to spread the word. Hope you will too.
For more information on the Minneapolis ordinance, please visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/airquality/AntIdling_home.asp.