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Monday, August 10, 2009

Idling in the hood

While I was out running this morning, I saw something on the way back to my house that kind of annoyed me. One of our neighbors had started his car in the driveway, got out of the car and then went back into the house.

Since I had to pass by their house twice on the way back to mine, I noticed it was still running several minutes later. And, since I do some stretching outside, I saw that it was still empty and idling for at least the ten minutes I was outside.

I was somewhat tempted to say something to him, even if only to feign ignorance that someone left their car running in the driveway and, oh, maybe it would be a good idea (for safety, pollution, whatever) that they turn it off. But the giant "Susan Hutchinson for King County Executive" lawn sign kind of scared me off.

I was happy to see, while we were in Manhattan, that there is a fine for unattended idling in the city. If only those signs existed here, at the very least, in school zones and included school buses while they are at it. I'm sure enforcement of those laws are problematic, but maybe the signs alone would help to educate people or remind them to turn their cars off.

Anyway, what about you, would you say anything to your neighbor or just let it go?

20 comments:

Sharlene said...

10 minutes seems more than excessive. I would probably play the "just checking to see if you forgot about your car" card.

Amber said...

Honestly, I am totally socially anxious and I probably wouldn't say anything, if I'm being honest. Instead I would fume silently and maybe rant at my husband. I'm not claiming it's the best way to go, but it's probably the truth.

Here in Vancouver there are no-idle laws, and fines can be imposed. I'm not sure how enforcement works, exactly, but I think the signs and rules go a long way towards raising awareness. If nothing else, it's a step in the right direction, for sure.

Eco Yogini said...

you know- this idling stuff has been bothering me for a while. I have heard on the cbc of a guy in Halifax who tells people in the parking lot where he works to shut off their cars. He said they mostly just told him to eff off. sigh.

For about six months now I've been shutting off my car at all the intersections. It was pretty weird at first, I had to first make sure the intersection red light lasted more than 10 seconds... but I hate hate hate sitting in an idling car. even in our Canadian winters- I wear gloves and my jacket and drive until the car warms up LOL.

And there is nothing worse than trying to sit outside to have a coffee while a car is parked- idling spewing fumes right in your face.

sigh- I would have been sorely tempted.

Robj98168 said...

Yeah- "Susan Hutchinson" supporters are like that- kinda like McCain and W voters. THey're gonna do what they want when they want and FU if you don't like it. Suan is th eKing County/ Seattle answer to Sarah Palin.

Joan said...

My daughter's last year of elementary school we had to drive her (we did carpool as much as possible) b/c school lines changed. She got permission to finish out her 5th grade year but no school bus service. In the afternoons sometimes I'd get in line early and do work or read. Everyday a guy would be in line running his car for 45 minutes even if it was 65 degrees outside. I emailed the principal to see if I could put up signs or put a note in the newsletter about turning engines off in line but she ignored me several times.

MN_homesteader said...

Hell yes I would I say something and might even turn the car off locking the keys in it. We also have a law against idling, but the lazy cops will not enforce it.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I'd say something like "Hey, there's been a string of car thefts when people leave their cars running in their driveways! You better be careful!" That was true around here last winter, when people would start up their cars to warm up.

As for school zones, I hate having to walk in between idling buses and inhale those fumes early in the morning, and I think the kids shouldn't have to either. Plus, won't it add up and save money on fuel???

greenonblue said...

i once had a next-door neighbor who not only left his van running for extended periods of time but would sit in the driver's seat with the van in Park and floor the gas pedal, pumping noxious fumes straight into my living room window. my boyfriend and i BOTH spoke to him MORE THAN ONCE and he didn't give a sh*t. each time he gave lame excuses about why he needed to do that. seems people are gonna do what they please and even asking nicely doesn't produce positive results. :(

Aimee said...

I don't know exactly what I'd say - "hey, did you notice your car's running? Some kids were playing with the door handle, looked like they were working up the guts to climb in, I scared them off, you're welcome!" - but in general, I'm in favor of neighbors speaking directly to each other before they call in the authorities. I know, it's hard, I am a flat-out-coward myself. I'd like, for example, to say to my neighbors: "hey! your septic system is leaking onto my property! You guys use way to many phosphates! Don't you know that a family of four does not need a 7,500 square foot house, anyway? What's up with you?"
Okay that would probably not be productive. But I'm sure that you, being you and all, could come up with something better and more effective.

Condo Blues said...

You should have stolen his car and taken it for a joyride. Notice I said you and not me, because I don't want to go to prison for Grand Theft Auto.

organicneedle said...

I guess it depends if the person was a repeat offender...or it was just a freak thing...like he ran in and received a devastating phone call and actually forgot about the car...or if he is just a habitual gas piggie.

Also, you can always say things to people from the position of his/her well being and best interests...like do you know what that does to YOUR car or how much of YOUR gas that uses. Comes off a tad less bitchy than accusing someone of poisoning the rest of us. It might seem kind of weeny but if the goal is to stop the action it is best to make the message well received.

Kim from Milwaukee said...

That's a toughie. Maybe an anonymous note on the windshield to the effect of "I ran past your car and nearly choked from the fumes" would be the most direct way to bring the issue to his attention. At least it would make him think about his actions.

Being a green police person is not a popular job.

Rosa said...

I have this problem at our daycare - people leave the car running while they pick up/drop off.

The thing is, in the past I've had a car that was really hard to start and not had the cash to fix it...i would be hesitant to bug people.

On the other hand, if it was a friend, I would make fun of them a lot. What a stupid thing to do if you can help it - waste of money, chance of theft, safety issues, AND global warming.

emerzim said...

That is a big thing around here. It gets extremely hot in the summertime and people actually have automatic starts installed in their cars so they can start them remotely to let the engine run and the air conditioning start to cool the car down. It drives me batty. I think a better solution for them would be to not live in a desert.

Sonja and Chris said...

Oh, that's a tough one! Good question, Crunchy. Dealing with neighbors always requires delicate actions. I like Farmer's Daughter reply (polite and with the appearance of being helpful). I'm not sure I'd have the courage to say anything, though.

I'm currently in a rather difficult neighbor position myself: I'd like to politely request that my neighbors keep their cats out of my yard. Currently it's ok for cats to wander through private property in Seattle but I would like to cultivate our native songbird populations, without the fear of them being consumed by feline predators. Plus they poop in my vegetable garden which is rather disgusting. I find that people get really up in arms about their pets though. One of the neighbors who is the owner of several cats was so ticked about dog poop in her yard that she started bagging up the poop and throwing it into the driveway of the offending dog owner. Yuck! A bit passive-aggressive in my mind but I suppose it's one way of getting your point across. Now if only I could request that she show the same level of responsibility with her own animals.

Good luck with the idling. Really, it wasn't even that cold here, just a bit on the rainy side.

Anonymous said...

My next door neighbor's teenager does this with his pickup truck and it drives me CRAZY. You'd think the pick-up's low MPG would perhaps influence him to conserve gas, but apparently not, becus EVERY SINGLE DAY he does this, even in summer.

I haven't said anything becus me and my neighbor don't get along, chiefly due to the noise they make. I checked with zoning officer to see if there was an anti-idling law, but the one they have only applies to our town's commercial center and delivery trucks.

Denise said...

In the UK it's technically an offence to leave the engine running - this is what it says in our Highway Code, which is a potted version of the actual law

"123
The Driver and the Environment. You MUST NOT leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road. Generally, if the vehicle is stationary and is likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should apply the parking brake and switch off the engine to reduce emissions and noise pollution. However it is permissible to leave the engine running if the vehicle is stationary in traffic or for diagnosing faults.

[Law CUR regs 98 & 107]"

This doesn't, however, prevent people from doing exactly what you describe. One of my near neighbours regularly starts his engine and leaves it running for up to ten minutes before driving off (which drives me crazy). I can understand keeping the engine going for a few minutes while defrosting windscreens in icy weather but there's no excuse the rest of the time.

Should I say something - definitely. Do I say anything? Not likely - I'm a scaredy cat.

Cynthia said...

They'll learn when someone steals their car.

Someone mentioned on the post about cops being too lazy to cite where they live. Shame. Me and my co-workers are tired of taking car theft calls. When someone reports a car theft b/c they left it idling, some of us not only take the report, but then cite the caller for "unattended idling vehicle."
Ouch ... salt anyone?

Rosa said...

That's awesome, Cynthia.

People here run their cars to warm them up, and every fall there are PSA's all over with police officers saying "Your car can be stolen! Please don't leave it idling."

But now they make cars with automatic starts so you can start the car from a distance with no keys in the ignition and the doors still locked.

Not that our old Toyota has that, but I've heard of it.

Marissa said...

I am also a silent fumer which cannot be good for my stress levels ;-)

I *wish* I had the gumption to tell certain people things about their behavior, but I do it enough already in a sort of um...second hand sort of way, that I think I alienate a lot of my friends.

I turn my car off when I go through the bank drive through, I don't idle, I try to do my part and I just hope others will at least try to do theirs. It is really difficult being the eco police, and there is always someone who does more than me and I wouldn't want them commenting every time I use a (recycled) plastic bag to dispose of my kitty poo.

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