MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: There oughtta be a law?

I see the City of Vernon is considering an anti-idling bylaw for next year, and for all the right reasons.

I see the City of Vernon is considering an anti-idling bylaw for next year, and for all the right reasons.

“It’s an environmental issue,” said Coun. Catherine Lord, and rightly so of people who leave their motor running in front of stores or schools or at home or…..

“Reductions in vehicle emissions benefit the community through air quality improvements,” said Clint Kanester, bylaw enforcement manager, in his report to council for consideration.

Again, he’s right. The inversions we get, especially in the winter time, that create poor air quality in the first place, don’t need the added mix of more than what’s necessary from whatever comes out of the back of our respective tailpipes.

And again, Lord is right when she says “we need a public awareness campaign on this” issue.

However, I would argue let’s ditch the bylaw idea, which would include fines that could range from $250 to $10,000 (not sure what it would take to get dinged that much), and just go with the public awareness campaign.

It would be much cheaper, less paperwork, and less upsetting to the average citizen who should know better anyway.

And then there’s the enforcement aspect.

We seem to like to write laws these days for the betterment of all mankind, maybe enforce them for awhile, realize that might not be the best approach for a lot of reasons (like expensive and cumbersome to enforce), and then just hope people take care and use some kind of commonsense to get them through life relatively safely and unscathed.

Like the bike helmet law.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Of course, everybody should wear their helmet while cycling, the consequences of not doing so and getting in an accident are not hard to grasp, especially for our kids.

And initially there was enforcement but these days I would say, and I have no facts to back this up admittedly, there is a significant number of people who don’t don a helmet, old and young alike, knowing the likelihood of a fine is virtually nil and the other risk is also fairly small.

Now this does upset me because I do believe they should wear them for their own good, but that doesn’t mean I believe they should turn up the screws on enforcement. There are more pressing issues out there, frankly, people should just use common sense, and maybe a public awareness campaign would help but the bottom line is personal responsibility, which obviously comes up short sometimes for all of us but hopefully the effort is there more than it’s not.

The same goes for idling.

I try not to do it more than I have to. Even in the winter. Hey, it’s usually warm just before I get to work so…..

I actually go into my bank more than I use the drive-thru, and the same goes for fast-food, although yes when I’m in a hurry, which is too often, I’m there.

Which brings me to a story. A couple years ago a driver in front of me at the drive-thru stopped and started their vehicle at least five times, and it was a fast line – I swear at least a couple times the turnaround time was mere seconds. Although the intent was noble, I couldn’t help but think of the toll on the car, and likely the environment with all the starting and stopping (although, again I’m no expert) going on, wasn’t helping the cause. The irony wasn’t lost on me as I thought if you’re that environmentally conscious in the first place, maybe you should have parked it and walked into the restaurant.

But, of course, they were likely in a hurry too and who am I to be self-righteous?

However, what I will say is that on that day I never thought to myself “there oughtta be a bylaw” – one way or the other.

—Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor for The Morning Star