Avon Lake

In an effort to improve air quality and save fuel, the city’s Environmental Committee is developing a voluntary vehicle idling program.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch, who chairs the committee, said discouraging vehicle idling would help residents’ health and economic development in the city.

“We have a very sophisticated group of residents,” she said. “They get it. They understand fumes from vehicles are not healthy fumes to breathe.”

Fenderbosch compiled a list of facts about vehicle idling in support of the upcoming program. The list points out vehicle idling wastes fuel and wears on internal engine parts more than regular driving. It also states idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than restarting the engine.

A running engine releases more than 40 substances into the air listed as hazardous pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as benzene, ozone, large and fine particulate matter and carbon dioxide. Diesel exhaust has been linked to health problems, such as eye irritation, asthma attacks, neurological ailments, lung disease with decreased lung function in children and emphysema.

Along with helping residents’ health, Fenderbosch said better air quality could help the city’s economic development. The EPA monitors cities’ air quality to ensure it meets federal standards. Businesses looking to relocate pay attention to this, she said, and some cities have lost out.

Avon Lake currently meets the EPA standard, Fenderbosch said, but the government wants to reduce the allowable amounts even further. The no-idling program is a way to help make the grade, she said.

She and Councilman at-Large Dan Bucci are still working on the details of the program, but Fenderbosch said they intend to have something to present to council after the summer recess for discussion. She stressed the program is voluntary.

“It’s all about choice and our thoughts,” she said. “Dan and I believe we don’t need another law on the books. People voluntarily choose to not idle when they don’t have to.”

Vehicle idling was in the local news recently after the city of Lakewood passed an ordinance against excessive vehicle idling. Idling a vehicle for more than five minutes, or 10 for a delivery vehicle, is now against the law. There are some exceptions, such as for emergency vehicles, extreme weather situations and repair work that requires a running motor. Violation of the ordinance is a minor misdemeanor.

Lakewood Councilwoman at-Large Nickie Antonio, one of the sponsors of the ordinance, said while the ordinance makes compliance mandatory, she believes it will be used more as an educational tool to change behavior. She said she likes the idea of a voluntary program, but it becomes an issue if people don’t want to follow the program because they’re willing to pay for the wasted gas.

“Everything that each one of us does collectively affects the whole community,” Antonio said.

The city of Lakewood isn’t looking for new fines, she said, just a higher quality of life in the community. If someone received a warning and changes the behavior, she said she’d feel the city was successful.

The new ordinance is modeled after a Cleveland ordinance, Antonio said. One of the best examples of the law’s potential is when Antonio said she was on lunch breaks in downtown Cleveland. She’d see a row of school buses outside of Playhouse Square waiting for kids on a field trip. While the students were inside, she said the buses idled the entire time. After the ordinance came into effect, she said the buses no longer idled outside the theater.

“Right off the bat, that was an incredible change of behavior and everything,” she said.

Contact Bryan Wroten at bwroten@2presspapers.com

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