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NYC Mayor Bloomberg Signs Bill Restricting Engine Idling Near Schools

February 16, 2009

NEW YORK, NY --- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed a bill into law that imposes stricter idling limits around both public and private school facilities.

According to the Asthma Free School Zone, one in every four children in New York City has asthma, well over the national average. Previously, cars and trucks were allowed to idle for up to three minutes. With this new law, the legal idling time will be reduced from three minutes to one minute. The law does not apply to emergency service vehicles. 

"Anti-idling laws have been in effect for many years, but unfortunately, excessive idling has become pervasive. Idling vehicles unnecessarily pollute the air," said Councilmember John C. Liu, lead sponsor of the bill (Introductory Number 40-A). "[This bill] will help clean the air in the immediate vicinity of schools. It is not intended to simply reduce idling time from three minutes to one minute; it is intended to improve public awareness and behavior around our schools by essentially requiring that engines be shut off right away instead of being kept on for a few minutes. Especially around schools, engines simply should not be kept running for any length of time.”

Additionally, the law requires the Environmental Control Board to submit a written report to the New York City Council each year concerning the number of idling violations issued. The law also requires the Department of Finance to submit a report on the number of summonses issued for idling violations and the amount of penalties imposed.

Finally, the law encourages greater public awareness about city and state idling restrictions by requiring that applicants for licenses to operate for-hire vehicles demonstrate their knowledge of idling laws.

"As a city, our asthma rate is through the roof," said Councilmember David Yassky, lead sponsor of the bill. "We've got idling laws on the books, but there's no one around to enforce them. Drivers keep their engines going because they know they'll get away with it. This bill will significantly increase enforcement so that these laws do what they were designed to do."

Additionally, the law will allow for citizens to bring complaints against trucks for violations of the Air Pollution Control Code, including idling, in the same way that citizens can already bring a citizen's complaint against idling buses.



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