No idling

From the New Yorker:

For the past decade, an uptown mortgage broker named George Pakenham has been predicting that the scourge of engine exhaust caused by needless automobile idling will soon become as socially unacceptable as secondhand smoke. After years of rapping on the windows of passenger cars and delivery vans, reminding drivers that the law prohibits idling for longer than three minutes within the city limits, and only occasionally being rebuffed with remarks like “Go move to China” and “You are not human,” he felt like he had reason to be optimistic. He has produced a children’s book devoted to the subject, “Big Nose, Big City,” and also a documentary, “Idle Threat,” which has screened in Nevada City, California, and at Westfield High School, in New Jersey, where he was, as he recalls, “treated regally,” as a member of the class of ’68. He has FaceTimed with officials at the American Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria—a city that is known, apparently, for its terrible air quality. In May, he visited P.S. 31, in Greenpoint, where students showed off anti-idling posters they’d made (the legal limit in a school zone is sixty seconds) and took turns wearing a gas mask that he’d brought. But the broader wave of concern about the wasted oil and smog produced by idling engines, Pakenham confessed recently, is “way behind schedule.”

This is something that’s been driving me crazy for years, and it’s gotten even worse lately. In my neighborhood there can be one or two people sitting in an idling car on every block.

Why do people do that?

Partly, I guess, it’s to have air conditioning or heat while you sit in your car…but why sit in your car? Especially if you need to keep it running in order to sit in it comfortably? I can see why electricians and plumbers and the like do it: they’re on the job and it costs time and money to drive somewhere for lunch. But everyone else? Why are they using up their gas, adding to their carbon footprint, and poisoning the local air, just to squat in a car playing with a phone?

It needs to stop.

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