It improves air quality. Breathing in air pollution during our lifetime has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including lung and heart disease, stroke and cancer.
It helps the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Recent research shows that 60% of parents are worried about the effect of air pollution on their children’s health, while 2,000 schools and nurseries are in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution.
Children also tend to spend more time outside, where concentrations of air pollution from traffic are generally higher. When children are walking or in a pushchair, they are often at the height of vehicle exhausts meaning that they breathe in higher concentrations of pollutants.
Air pollution can worsen existing health inequalities. People living in the poorest areas are often the most exposed to pollution, so exposure to toxic air can reinforce unequal health outcomes for deprived communities.
Living Streets has developed a toolkit for running your own anti-idling campaign, that has proven to work for hundreds of local communities.
PICK YOUR IDLING HOTSPOT. It’s a good idea to focus your activity on an area where idling cars are a particular problem. This might be outside a school at pick up time. Choose the street, junction or drop off point where you think you can make the biggest impact.
TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS. Lots of people in your community will be concerned about air pollution, so find out what they think and ask them to get involved. Knock on doors, hold informal meetings and talk about your plans on social media.
WORK WITH YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY. Ask if teachers can hold a special assembly to explain how getting their parents to switch off the car engine can make the air that they breathe cleaner. Once you’ve got the kids on board, talk to their parents. A lot of them may not realise that idling traffic is a problem, so use your campaign to inform them.
TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND WHY. Get on social media to tell everyone about your campaign. Talk to your local councillor or MP and see if they’ll support your campaign – invite them along to your day of action. See if the local press would like to cover your story and invite journalists to attend, too. Create simple factsheets or leaflets to explain why idling is so dangerous. Make ‘idle-free zone’ posters to display in the local community to tell people about your campaign.
DAY OF ACTION. It’s best to choose a day and time when you know idling cars are a problem for your day of action. You will need a small team of volunteers. Make sure you have landowner’s consent and that the local council or school (if appropriate) are informed. Make sure you undertake a thorough risk assessment and brief volunteers on this, too.
REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN’T WIN THEM ALL. Some people that you talk to simply won’t want to listen or change their behaviour. When approaching drivers, be friendly and don’t push people if they seem uninterested.
EVALUATE YOUR SUCCESS. Take some time following your day of action to evaluate its success. How many people changed their behaviour? Was there anything you would do differently? You could follow up your day of action by visiting the area again to see if anything has changed.