Toronto Police On Car-Idling Blitz

If you're ever in the mood to get really nauseas off of car fumes, try standing close to the parking area of almost any Toronto strip mall. The idea that we have anti-idling by-laws will seem laughable after a few minutes. You'll notice shopper after shopper leave cars running while purchases are made. After a few minutes, you'll start hating most drivers. If you last even longer, you'll eventually pass out.

To combat smog and other environmental nastiness, the Toronto Police are going on a four-day ticketing enforcement blitz. It's not much (what happens after four days?), but you can get the satisfaction of seeing SUV-owners idling in front of Starbucks get a ticket. Well, it isn't going to be that satisfying - the fine is only around $120 and, except during the blitz, is rarely enforced - the city only issued 66 tickets last year!

In many part of Europe, anti-idling laws are serious. When I visited Switzerland over ten years ago, I noticed that even bus drivers turned off their engines when parked for only a few minutes. And this was the norm over ten years ago!

Ward 22 rep Mike Walker is suggesting that Toronto go further than anti-idling laws - ban those big trucks from downtown during rush hour (thereby freeing room for cars and thus reducing idle-time). It sounds like a good idea but truck companies don't like it because they say they deliver when businesses are open. They also claim that some trucks carry perishable items that require a running engine.

These may be valid concerns but for anything to change for the better we have to rethink things like getting goods into the city and enforcing idling laws. New York City has recently announced their soon-to-be-green taxi-fleet. London has a congestion tax that funds public transit. Other municipalities have started offering free-parking to hybrid vehicles. Even companies like Ikea are creating preferential hybrid parking areas and asking motorists to turn off engines when loading their vehicles.

We have a lot of catching up to do, especially when compared to greener European cities. If we don't look at more innovative solutions, our short summer season will only be known for smoggy air, poisonous breathing and freaky looking gas-masks.

Photo from stock.xchng.

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