Gentlepeople, stop your engines. The Beaverton School District’s (BSD) Safe Routes to School program is promoting an anti-idling campaign, encouraging students and parents to lead efforts against car idling during student drop-off and pick-up time.
Safe Routes to School, a national initiative to make it safe and fun for kids to walk and bike to and from school which has gained support in the Portland area, focuses a lot on the health and academic benefits of ditching the carpool line.
But the environmental impact of driving kids to school every day (and idling in the parking lot) shouldn’t be overlooked. Making it safer for kids to walk and bike to school is necessary for reducing people’s reliance on cars as their primary mode of transportation.
Car engine idling emits a lot more carbon than people might think. The U.S. Department of Energy says “while the impact of idling may be small on a per-car basis, the impact of the 250 million personal vehicles in the U.S. adds up.” If we could eliminate unnecessary idling from personal vehicles, it would produce the same emissions impact of taking 5 million vehicles off the roads.
Students who want to lead a campaign at their school will make materials based on data they gather observing people waiting in cars during pick-up time at their school. After an educational campaign and protest event, where students will hand out fliers to people in their cars, they’ll collect post-campaign data and see how things changed.
Kids can be very effective parent-persuaders, and since turning your car engine off is really not an arduous task, these campaigns could be impactful. As the global oil market is in upheaval because of the war in Ukraine and gas prices continue to rise, this is a good time to let people know how much gas they’re wasting just by sitting in their car with the engine running.
Find out more information from the BSD about how to begin one of these campaigns here.
And, to be clear, anti-idling campaigns don’t stop in Beaverton! The Portland Bureau of Transportation also encourages anti-idling awareness, as do school districts associated with regional Safe Routes to School programs.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org