Find Out What City Wants to Reward You for Reporting Idling Vehicles
New York City is worried about engine idling, and we all can benefit. The New York City Council is introducing a bill to allow for citizens to report idling vehicles, with an important twist—citizens can split the fine with the city.
At a rally on the steps of city hall yesterday, Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and Councilman Donovan Rochards announced this bill to greatly increase the attention by the public on this issue that is both a public nuisance and an economic drain.
We have strong #idling laws but almost no enforcement @DRichards13 @NRDC pic.twitter.com/dxE9N4yr8f
— Helen Rosenthal (@HelenRosenthal) March 10, 2015
To prevent any sort of vigilante justice on idling, individuals would first have to be trained and certified by the Department of Environmental Protection. As my 12 year-old son said, “I would quickly find a couple of delivery trucks and would soon have enough money to buy a Play Station!” Interestingly enough, it is often children that encourage parents to change behavior. This effort may inspire an army of middle school children to get an entire city to stop idling.
Sustainable America has been working on the issue of unnecessary engine idling for several years because it is such a simple way for the public, and for municipalities to save money while at the same time benefiting the environment.
This aspect of looking at our pocketbooks first is important. At Sustainable America, we are working to reduce our nation’s oil consumption by 50 percent and increase food availability by 50 percent, in the next two decades. The reason we focus on food and transportation is because they are the two biggest expenses for Americans after taking care of shelter.
If we can make our food and fuel systems more resilient and efficient, we will improve the economic well-being of every American, especially those that are lower on the economic ladder.
The statistics are stunning. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, individual drivers waste almost four million gallons of fuel every day through unnecessary idling. That’s enough to fill five Olympic swimming pools with fuel. Or, put another way, that’s 200,000 barrels of foreign oil each and every day.
That’s just individual drivers. On top of that, workday idling by commercial trucks across the country wastes another 4 million gallons of gasoline and an additional 3 million gallons of diesel.
And there’s a third category—municipal vehicles. Every highway vehicle, parks and recreation vehicle, and even every emergency vehicle is usually running its engine all day simply to keep the lights on. This is all money down the drain. Money from our take home pay that is burned up for nothing. Money from our taxes that is lost to wasted fuel in the city budget.
To make matters worse, there are well known health and environmental issues caused by vehicle exhaust. It is well documented that vehicle exhaust exacerbates asthma and lung diseases. It has also been shown to especially affect pregnant mothers and children with their smaller lungs are more at risk. Again, these health issues are critical. No one wants a city with dirtier air. We all share an interest in a city with cleaner air. But again, these health effects have economic costs. Our kids miss school from asthma attacks, our hospitals are filled with people suffering from lung problems. We can make a dent in that, too.
The great news is that solutions are easy, and we all have a part to play.
In our own cars, the catch phrase is “Don’t sit idle. Turn it off.” We have developed a website called www.ITurnItOff.com. It helps individuals understand that they can save three to five trips to the gas station every year, just by turning off their engine when they are dropping their kids off at school, when they just need to run into the store for a minute, at the car wash, and every single drive through—whether it’s the bank drive through, or even the local fast food restaurant.
This is because you start saving money after just 10 seconds of sitting idle. That is, every time you are not moving for 10 seconds or more, you will save money by turning off and restarting. Now, when the weather is as brutally cold as it has been recently, or on the hottest summer days, of course you should be reasonable. But most of the year, there are opportunities all day long to save money, our health and the environment, all with this one simple task. Turn it off.
There’s a second opportunity, with anyone who owns a fleet of vehicles. We worked with a restaurant uniform and linen delivery company and helped them understand that their drivers were idling over an hour each day. Why? Because the drivers would leave the trucks running while they made each delivery. With our help, they saved $1,000 per truck per year in fuel costs. They have a fleet of 75 vehicles. Imagine what we could save the city of New York by doing the same.
The trick is that it’s partly solved by changing driver behavior, and there are also inexpensive technologies that can be used. There are companies like GeoTab that use telematics devices to help fleet managers understand which of their drivers are idling excessively, and help them reduce fuel waste. And there are companies like eNow Energy that are putting thin film solar panels on municipal and fleet vehicles to help them run emergency lights or lift gates using solar power rather than the engine.
We have the power to make a difference. The New York City Council is taking a chance on a new way to reduce idling, but we all would benefit if we just made this one simple change in our driving behavior to make a more sustainable America.
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For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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