Engine idling and nobody in London needs an SUV

As regular readers of my blog will know, one of my pet peeves is when people sit in their cars with the engine running. This happens a lot outside primary school gates where children gather and inhale the fumes. Pollution from motor vehicles is especially harmful to children because they are smaller and absorb more fumes per kilogram of body weight than adults do.

Car pollution can damage the growth of their lungs, raise the risk of asthma and allergies, damage the development of their brains, and raise the risk of heart disease and cancer later in their lives. Source.

For the very first time this week I finally found the courage to ask a motorist to please switch their engine off. We were waiting outside Highland Dance and Elizabeth was standing not much more than 2 metres from his exhaust and he was just idling there for what seemed like an eternity. There was really no need to keep the engine on. I summoned the courage to approch him and asked him as politely as I could to please turn the engine off so the children don’t have to inhale the fumes. His answer was surprising.

He said, “Oh but this isn’t a petrol car. It’s diesel”.

Diesel fumes are more damaging to health than petrol fumes. I thought everyone knew this but clearly not. Indeed the motorist thought the opposite was true. I replied that diesel is worse but I don’t think he believed me. He said he’s an asthmatic and knows but he still turned the engine off and that’s the main thing.

More needs to be done to educate people on the harmful effects of air pollution. I think if people knew what it did to their health and the health of their children they wouldn’t sit for ten minutes next to a children’s playground with the engine running. Vehicle idling is also illegal in Scotland and you can be fined for it.

An item of news on Twitter yesterday caught my eye. Keir Starmer evidentally hit a cyclist in London while driving his SUV to a private tailor’s appointment. There is so much to be disappointed with in this story. I am dismayed to read he drives an SUV. These cars are dangerous, selfish, gas guzzling, climate polluting vehicles that have no place in a city. They are useful off-road, on farms, and in the country. Keir Starmer could be setting a good example by owning an efficient electric car. Driving to a private tailor who caters to celebrities also doesn’t really seem fitting for a Labour leader. How many of us can afford to do that? Then of course the hitting of the cyclist who, thankfully, is ok.

Our actions are more important than our words. Many people claim to be concerned about climate change but when it comes to making changes themselves like cycling rather than driving or following a plant-based diet, their actions fall short.

9 Replies to “Engine idling and nobody in London needs an SUV”

  1. I know several people that live in London that sold their car – they no longer have a car, full stop.

  2. I also notice that few people will truly change their lifestyle in order to mitigate climate change. That’s why I sadly believe that some of our free choice has to be taken away from us, and changes forced upon us by law. I doubt if many govts will have the courage to stand up to big corporations and so that, though.

    1. It is disappointing and sometimes it makes me feel despair. I don’t know what the solution is. I wish people would just voluntarily do the right thing.

  3. That was so brave of you to say something and I’m glad there was a good outcome, especially as he seemed resistant at first. I can’t believe anyone thinks diesel is better than petrol in terms of fumes.
    I was disappointed about Keir. I thought he would be the one to lead us to a new, more equal future, it’s going to be hard to argue that when he seems to be behaving in such an out of touch way.

    1. Thanks, Denise. Now that I’ve done it once I’m wondering whether it will be easier to do it again. I’m not sure. Probably not so I may need to find the courage each time.

  4. As an avid cyclist, I have breathed more than my share of gas fumes. When it came time to replace my ageing SUV, I purchased an electric vehicle 😃

      1. Yes. I love the EV. I have been careless for a number of years, walking and biking where I needed to go. When my daughter graduated from graduate school, I gave her my SUV as a graduation gift. When I decided to replace it – I am planning to drive across the country to my summer cottage – I decided to set a good example for my kids and go electric. It’s the best purchase I have ever made. Fun to drive. Cheap to operate – I seldom pay for a charge. And, quiet & clean 😃

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