New signs a bad sign for idling cars | AspenTimes.com

New signs a bad sign for idling cars

Abigail Eagye

Several Aspen businesses are posting signs reminding people not to let their cars idle too long. The Aspen Store was the first in town to post the signs voluntarily, and City Market is on board to post signs of its own.A 20-year-old city ordinance prohibits idling for more than five minutes, but not everyone is aware of the law.Last year, the city began efforts to increase awareness by handing out “Idling Isn’t Cool” cards to offenders. Instead of a ticket and a fine, the card is actually a voucher that, if returned to the environmental health department, is good for a free cookie at Paradise Bakery.Lacey Gaechter, special projects coordinator with the city’s environmental health department, said a number of locals have asked for stacks of the cards to hand out in their neighborhoods.Over the past year, the city’s environmental health department has been surveying the city looking for trouble spots. Employees identified a number of local businesses where cars regularly idle and has approached them about posting the signs.Gaechter said she’s had a decent response, but a few businesses refused because, they said, they already have too many signs.Although current efforts to curtail idling are part of the city’s recent push to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the idling is also an annoyance to some. Outside the Belly Up, for example, employees who breathe the fumes of idling cars requested the signs.Cracking down on idling cars might be only a small slice of the pie when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but Gaechter said every bit counts.”It’s not the best thing you can do,” she said. “But it’s one of the easiest.”Furthermore, idling cars might contribute more than people think. Gaechter didn’t have concrete numbers, but she speculated that “at least as much [gases are] emitted throughout the day through random idling instances as there is from idling traffic.”The city is looking for other businesses to participate by posting signs or handing out the cookie cards. For more information, contact Lacey Gaechter at 429-1749 or laceyg@ci.aspen.co.us.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com