Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Idle time

Our fair city is now considering an ordinance banning the excess idling of engines, excess defined as over 5 minutes. This includes autos, trucks, lawn mowers, and generators. Being stuck in traffic will be excluded along with waiting in line at the drive throughs. It is unclear whether one would be permitted to warm the car up to melt ice that can't be chipped off but maybe garages will be made mandatory or maybe it will be all right to drive with ice on your windows. Some people pull over to take cell phone calls. Well they better turn their engines off. The chief area of enforcement will be the schools where students have to run the gauntlet of waiting cars and buses and their 'toxic' emissions. As the school bus services have been cut, more students come to school by private car.

In the past, there were recommendations by the car manufacturers to never drive a cold engine but now, due to superior oils, that is no longer the case. Why the ban? Air quality experts cited the extra toxins that idling engines produced. Some were carcinogenic. There have been studies citing the increase in autism as a function of nearness to expressways (hotbeds of idling) in LA. There was even a study of the decrease of autism near toll booths along the New Jersey turnpike since E-Z pass has been adopted.

I've looked at some of those studies particularly the LA one. Small sample size. Also, the expressway is hardly the sole source of idling cars.

No one likes to breathe in exhaust. At work, the 'fresh' air intake vents were stupidly situated right where the delivery trucks would idle filling our labs with truck exhaust smelling worse than our work. We complained to no avail although finally the delivery site was changed more for their convenience as our site expanded.

If the city were sincere about reducing exhaust due to idling, it would have more timed lights.

This seems unenforceable as most idling is on private property. If idling around the schools is a problem, ban it at the schools.

The last ordinance passed by our council ended up costing some of them their jobs. This was the one requiring a full stop, even on major trunk lines, if one even thought they saw a pedestrian intending to cross. The problem was judging this.In one case near our house, the bus stop was located right next to a crosswalk. Are they waiting for a bus or going to cross? People seemed to stop for no reason leading to collisions. The state has no law about this so out-of-towners had no idea what the expectations were.The ordinance has since been amended to the potential crosser actually having to step into the crosswalk. Presumably when the city get more money, key crossings will be activated by flashing lights, much safer.

It appears to be spring again. I am impatiently waiting for the sun to burn a hole through the ice so I can go for a long run.

Yesterday I heard from 3 people who seemed to be missing in action. One a work buddy who had told me that he was moving out-of-state last June and I hadn't heard from him since. Another was a woman who was diagnosed the same time as me with TNBC reported a year ago that she was seeing about a suspicious mass and was scared to death. She never updated her blog until yesterday (she was fine). And another is a stage 4 very young BC survivor; I assumed no news was very bad news but that does not seem the case.

I also had a nice afternoon with a good friend, so that was fun.

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