Tag Archives: idling vehicles

Idle Chatter About School Pickups

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.

Cars on North Avenue, near Coleytown Elementary School. (Photo/David Gottlieb)

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.

Cars lined up on Post Road West, near Kings Highway Elementary School. (Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

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.

The law is clear, at Staples High school.

No Idle Threat

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 14) is Westport GreenDay.

Organizers hope it will be a real turnoff.

Well, actually, they’re encouraging drivers to turn off their car engines.

Nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut are transportation-related. Turning off an engine, then back on again is more fuel efficient than idling for just 10 seconds.

idling car

First Selectman Jim Marpe urges all Westporters to sign a “No Idling Pledge” (click here for the environmentally friendly online version).

(NOTE: State law prohibits “unnecessary idling” for more than 3 minutes. Provisions are made for weather extremes, certain service vehicles and health-related conditions.)

Other GreenDay activities tomorrow include a cleanup of Parker Harding Plaza and the riverfront; family events and a talk about the town’s new arboretum at Earthplace; a tour of Westport’s wastewater treatment plant; activities at Wakeman Town Farm, and a 3:30 p.m. library talk about Westport’s Net Zero goal for 2050.

Green Day logoTomorrow afternoon, electric vehicles are on display at Jesup Green, and a few lucky folks can test drive Teslas. There’s also a free EV shuttle service from the library to Town Hall, where the Westport Cinema Initiative sponsors the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” at 6 p.m.

It should be a great Green (if gray) Day.

And if Westporters don’t take the “No Idling” pledge to heart, “06880” will start posting photos of drivers sitting in their cars, while their engines run.

Don’t mess with us.

(For details of the weekend’s events, click on www.WestportGreenday.com)

Idle Chatter

Alert “06880” reader Jarret Liotta spotted this sign in front of Fairfield Ludlowe High School:

No Idling

He’d like to see similar signs in Westport.


“All over,” Jarret says. “Especially in front of the Y, where parents idle their cars for 15, 20 minutes and more, waiting for their kids.” He’s spoken with 2 officials about it. They say they often try to get people to stop idling, to no avail.

Jarret thinks a state law prohibits idling for more than 5 minutes. In fact, it’s 3 minutes  — as the small print on this sign in front of Staples High School notes:

Idling 2

The car parked in the fire zone is another matter entirely.