Drivers urged to switch off idle engines in new air quality campaign

Published: Tuesday 18th October 16

A campaign from Wandsworth Council and 12 other London boroughs will launch this week to tackle air pollution from idling vehicles and help protect people’s health.

The Vehicle Idling Action Campaign, supported by the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund, will launch at the Southside Shopping Centre in Wandsworth Town Centre tomorrow (Oct 19).

The aim is to encourage more drivers to switch off their engines when not on the move. This can have a significant impact on harmful emission levels which build up around stationary traffic.

The launch event will include an interactive air quality themed snakes and ladders board to help demonstrate the issue, with everyone invited to come and play.

The campaign will also include community volunteers working in the borough, chatting to drivers and spreading the word about the effects of idling cars. Drivers who agree to switch off and pledge not to idle again will receive a mini version of the campaign board game to help teach others.

The council’s civil enforcement officers are also being trained to address the issue, asking stationary drivers to switch off their engines and handing out fixed penalty notices for idling if a driver refuses to respond.

Wandsworth is committed to improving air quality in the borough, and has already installed 155 ‘No Vehicle Idling’ signs outsider the borough’s primary schools.

The signs aim to reduce the number of idling cars during the school run.

Businesses throughout the borough will also be encouraged to ask their drivers and customers to make sure they switch off their engines when stationary.

Environment spokesperson Councillor Jonathan Cook said: “It is important that we work together to improve the quality of the air we breathe.

“This campaign is a perfect example of a small change many of us could make, that could have a positive impact on everyone’s health.”

The council is taking a wide range of actions to tackle air pollution, including:

  • The installation of new air quality monitoring stations (such as the ones in Putney) in Tooting, and Clapham Junction to further assess air quality in these areas.
  • A ban on day-time deliveries on Putney High Street.
  • A rolling programme of environmental theatre productions in local schools to teach children how their travel choices affect air quality.
  • Helping schools develop ‘school travel plans’ which reduce the number of cars used on the school run through initiatives like 'walking buses' and car pools.
  • Providing free vehicle emission checks in public places like supermarket car parks. The popular programme has offered residents the chance to check if their car will pass its next MOT and raise awareness about harmful vehicle emissions.
  • Championing car clubs which dramatically reduce total vehicle use and take older, more polluting cars off the road. Wandsworth now has the highest car club membership in London.
  • Free bike safety lessons for children and adults to give more residents the confidence and skills they need to start cycling.
  • 'Dr Bike' cycle surgeries promote cycling and teach residents basic maintenance skills.
  • Electric vehicle charging points have been installed in key locations which enable residents to switch over to low emission electric vehicles.
  • A free airTEXT messaging service warns residents when high pollution levels are forecast.
  • The council promotes walking through a range of public health campaigns and smarter travel awareness schemes.
  • Making the boroughs more pedestrian friendly including projects in Clapham Junction, Southfields, Putney and Earlsfield.
  • Lobbying for higher capacity rail, bus, riverbus and tube services so more residents can switch from cars to public transport.
  • The council's Smarter Driving campaign encourages drivers to take simple steps to reduce their emissions like inflating tires.

Vehicle Idling Action events will be running for the next six months.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and helping to improve your local air quality, you can find out more on the council’s website.

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Recent comments

I do think that this article is a load of Rubbish --I have complained for many years EMailing all Party Leaders a nothing yet has happened -- When You purport to clean up the Traffic Pollution -- Does this include Buses ?? For years London Transport (TFL) Has been changing Drivers on a Bus Stop on Putney High Street -- They now use 2 Places --Opposite Putney BR Station and a new Place for quite a while is Outside of TKMaxx -- Last time I was there -- I happened to time the Change Over --The Driver taking over was not there and Bus pumped out Carcinogenic Fumes for well over 8 Minutes --- So much for WBC care of residents -- Not a Good Record by any means -- and still it continues .
Barry O'Callaghan

22 October 2016

About time. The number of cars/lorries/vans sitting idling while people are on their phones or waiting for something has gone up and making people aware of how anti-social this is is an excellent idea. Can I have a sign for outside my house? I have a long yellow line and have a particular problem with this practice. Not best time to introduce though with colder weather coming!
michael ewing

22 October 2016

Give drivers the option of using cycle lanes as they can bus lanes in non peak hours. Get the Queen's roundabout configuration back to where it was so that traffic can move around it. Your road upgrades have caused the gridlock from the embankment to Battersea Park Road and, possibly all the way to the common. It is a disaster for us who live on the main road.
Jane Heany

21 October 2016

How about the council making it mandatory for bus drivers to turn their engines off when waiting for new driver, or when they linger to observe the bus timetable??? Buses are the greatest polluters in the Borough of Wandsworth
patricia Dina

21 October 2016

Sorry last posting. Reason I'm in my car - my golf clubs are too heavy to carry by public transport - if it went to where I wanted to get to. Couple of Christmases back - clutch went so we did Christmas food shop by bus to Sainsburys Chelsea Harbour - 2 of us could barely carry it and we spent bus journey saying sorry to passengers we were 'bashing up' with our shopping.
Liz D

21 October 2016

In reply to Janes comment. A lot of the reason for congestion along that part of the road is because WBC took the left hand filter away to Plough Road - which is causing congestion back to the Latchmere and to Wandsworth roundabout. WBC did the same in Falcon Road - taking away the left hand filter up Lavender Hill- causing more and more pollution under the railway bridge where traffic is now at a standstill.
Liz D

21 October 2016

I always try to get back home before 4.30pm - before the freeloaders take residents parking spaces. Got home yesterday at about 4pm - got a place - but not the one I wanted - because there was a small lorry in the space I liked - with its lights on - and driver in drivers seat - I waited a little while but it never moved - so I went in - but I looked out later when it was dark and it was still in the same place - no lights on and driver gone - obviously been waiting in a residents parking bay for 4.30 pm - when he knew he could leave it there all night for zilch.
Liz D

21 October 2016

Great idea. Perhaps some signs outside leisure centres where buses wait idling while the children are let out to swim. Notice on the dashboard of Wandsworth Community Transport too?

21 October 2016

Turning engines off for a few brief moments while stationary is unlikely to have a significant impact on Wandsworth's severe problems with pollution. The reason why people sit in their cars is because they believe it is too dangerous to cycle, which WBC knows. It is a shame then that WBC is not actually doing anything to make cycling safer on the roads, as is evident from the list above,

21 October 2016

And yet WBC is allowing new, higher buildings along York Road, which is often at a standstill so that pollution cannot be dissipated. Left hand, right hand or is it just that WBC wants to sound as if it cares?

18 October 2016