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City trying to cut down on idling vehicles

The City of Peoria is going to try to persuade its employees not to leave their city vehicles idling for long periods of time. I wouldn’t say they’re “cracking down” on the practice, because there doesn’t seem to be much more than an awareness campaign planned at the moment. But it’s not a bad first step.

Several citizens, including councilman Gary Sandberg, noticed that some police officers who would eat breakfast at a local restaurant in Peoria left their squad cars on and idling in the parking lot the whole time they were inside eating — sometimes as much as an hour or longer. When the City’s Energy Efficiency Task Force submitted their report to the council, Sandberg asked interim City Manager Henry Holling to look into the idling problem, since that’s a huge waste of energy, not to mention unnecessary pollution.

After that, the police officers never came back to the local restaurant. They apparently eat breakfast somewhere else now. That prompted Sandberg to say at a recent council meeting that “moving the problem is not solving the problem.”

So now, according to this week’s “issues update,” the city is giving all its employees who drive a city vehicle an anti-idling brochure: “A change in behavior will be reinforced with flyers posted on bulletin boards and articles in the employee newsletters. Department Heads are also emphasizing in staff meetings the need to reduce engine idling.” It doesn’t appear, however, that there will be a policy instituted or enforced.

My take: This will be great for conscientious employees who probably aren’t letting their vehicles idle excessively anyway. For those who leave their cars idling for an hour while they eat breakfast, I doubt this will make any difference whatsoever. Those employees already feel justified in leaving their cars on for excessive periods of time, and will likely change their behavior only if told by a superior to knock it off. So that’s precisely what needs to happen in addition to this public-awareness campaign for any significant change to occur.

If you witness excessive idling of a city vehicle, write down the vehicle number and location and e-mail it to me. I’ll pass that information along to the city.

11 comments to City trying to cut down on idling vehicles

  • Ben

    Almost every weekday morning, there are 2 or 3 police cars on Hamilton outside Associated Bank idling. I assume the officers are at the River City Grill having breakfast.

  • Sterling

    The issue with police cars and ambulances idling is that idling is often a necessary evil for these vehicles — onboard systems, such as computers and tracking systems, often need the engine running to operate and to get enough juice.

    Of course, that’s no excuse for meter maids, public works vehicles, etc.

  • I thought it was against the law to leave your vehicle unattended and idling. Or does that just apply to us common folk?

  • A few weeks back there were three city plows idling in the Burger King parking lot on N Knoxville while the workers were inside eating. This was the same day the Journal Star ran an article about the city going green. I got a good chuckle out of it.

  • s

    This is a wonder observation and only scratches the surface of a larger problem.

    Should our building and zoning codes be modified to laregly remove drive up windows?

    When I see 8 cars idiling and wating at a Starbucks or McDonalds drive up window I always wonder about these lazy souls who refuse to go inside a building and have a human interaction while their car is PARKED and not idiling.

    Given the overweight health problems I see a many McDonalds patrons I have to wonder if they could use a little excercise getting out of their car more often and walking into a building.

  • Sterling

    Depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the time idling, due to the consumption of gas needed to start the engine, some times it’s actually more fuel efficient to leave the engine running. Just what the magic number is that divides which would be more efficient depends on numerous factors — a quick Google search provided results that range from 7-10 seconds to a minute and a half.

    From what I’ve read online, an idling engine in a passenger vehicle typically uses .3 to .5 gallons per hour, to put things in perspective.

  • Sterling is right on track with his first post; the first time an idling officer gets a call and is unable to respond, motor or computer wise, Sandberg will be on their ass at a council meeting in front of the cameras. Micro managing again!

  • nontimendum

    Narcing on narcs? I’m out.

  • monkeyman

    With regards to city plow trucks, unless they have engine block heaters diesel engines are hard to start in the cold weather. Its sometimes better to just let them run so they can ‘stay hot’…but yes it still wastes fuel & puts more wear & tear on the motors.

  • Neal

    How about taking a fire chiefs car away from him? he drives it everywhere..all the time. Oh and he wont answera page or phone call to respond to fires. Its a long way from Lake Ccamelot

  • Popijw

    Is the ISSUE the idling of the cars or the FACT that they can not EAT or DRINK ALONE?

    They eat lundh in the HEIGHTS 4 an 5 at a time. Now, I do not know about nights except at dinner time ,say 5:30 pm till 7:00 pm when as many as 8 will be at WEBBs at the same time.

    The radios,& computers need to be on ,I have no problem ,except that if it is an hour for a break ? it is excessive & to start by taking a break after reporting in and during “traffic time” is bad management! But then so does Sanutary District and some live in Washington with city autos. so just don’t blame fire chief! ” Got to respond at any time? SO LIVE HERE WHERE YOU ARE PAID!