Last week, longtime Westporter David Gottlieb went for a walk.
Strolling along North Avenue, he saw a line of 20 or so cars. All were waiting to pick up Coleytown schoolchildren.
Most had their motors running.
For 20 or 30 minutes.
A couple of days later, Gottlieb saw a front page story in the New York Times. It described the city’s Citizens Air Complaint Program — a public health campaign that pays people to report trucks parked and idling for more than 3 minutes (1 minute outside a school).
By submitting a video showing the engine is running, and the company name on the door, they collect 25% of any fine collected. The minimum penalty in New York is $350.
Connecticut has a similar law. Its limit is 3 minutes for “mobile sources.” The enforcing agency is not, however, local or state police departments; it’s the air bureau of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
(Police can enforce an idling regulation against school buses specifically. The fine is $117.)
Coleytown Middle and Elementary are not the only schools in Westport in which cars idle for long periods of time. They’re not even the only ones on North Avenue.
During COVID, more parents than ever drove their children to school, then picked them up. The trend has continued.
Is idling near schools a problem, a nuisance, or an issue really not worth worrying about? In the absence of real enforcement — the state DEEP will not come prowling in Westport — is there anything to be done?
Parents pick up their kids for many reasons — including the unintended consequences of starting and ending school 30 minutes later than previously. Are there any solutions to the rising rates of non-bus riding?
Click “Comments” below. Please include specifics of your situation. And please: Don’t judge others. Be kind. We’re looking for answers, not a lot of smoke and hot air.