Idle moments in the Pyrenees
When the majority thinks of Spain, I believe that sea, sun, sand & sangria usually come to mind. But Spain is actually one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. And where I live in the Pyrenees we can get very cold winters – occasionally down to -20’C at night time.
It was one of those nights when I left my house to amble down to my local bar to share a few hours of football & perhaps a beer or two with the locals. I could feel the sting on my face as I walked briskly and well wrapped the one kilometer distance to my favorite bar. It sits alongside the national road that by-passes the main urban sprawl - all 350 of us.
This is an agricultural area & the parking lot already had a sprinkling of expensive 4 wheel drive cars and state of the art tractors. Thirty minutes into the match & the first beer, a local politician pulled up outside in his recently acquired John Deere tractor, left it running. He proceeded to have a beer & a discussion with some of his citizens inside.
After fifteen minutes, as the mid-way pause arrived in the match, I was beginning to get nervous. The tractor was still chugging away merrily as its owner chugged away merrily on a beer inside. This idling blind spot of the locals is endemic. I’ve had words before in the summer with the bus driver who siestas in air conditioned comfort inside his bus as its engine pumps out fumes. But it’s a lost cause unless you’re prepared to have a punch up over it.
Anyway, there is a fifteen minutes break in the match, my first beer was finished. I excused myself from the table & apparently headed to the toilets. But I took the side door, crossed the road, hopped up into the cabin of the idling tractor. I studied the array of gears for a few minutes, then carefully crawled the tractor across the road and parked it, turned it off & left the keys in. We may be ecological terrorists here but we’re honest ecological terrorists.
Forty-five minutes late another beer or was it two… We won! The tractoree finished his chat, left the bar and NADA. Some serious head scratching, a couple of oaths & curses went on. As he crossed back over to report the theft, he noticed his toy sitting prettily in the parking lot.
I didn’t stop chuckling until I got home 45 minutes later. Well, I had to have a 4th beer to celebrate saving the planet, didn’t I?
Declan Doyle (an Irishman living in Spain)
I use the NYC subway each day to and from work. I hop on at 72nd Street and Broadway and hop off at Wall Street. I used the RED line.
Several years ago, NY Transit installed 'emergency' exits at many of their stations. With a simple push on a lever, the emergency door opens and subway customers can leave the station, without going through the turnstiles.
The problem is ...this practice is abused and people push through these exits... without an emergency... AND AN ALARM SIREN GOES OFF.
The alarm is loud and irritating. It's a chronic problem.
Last weekend, I had had enough. I went to the fare booth and asked the attendant for the name of the station supervisor and his phone number. My calling began on Monday. It took half a dozen attempts but ultimately, on Wednesday, I reached Supervisor Langhorne located at Penn Station.
I made formal complaint. Mr. Langhorne said he would have the noise level of the alarm reduced significantly within two days.
That night on my way home, I reached the 72nd street station by 6:30. There were two workmen near the exit door. One was on a ladder, tweaking a mechanical device over the emergency exit door. The man below opened and closed the door several times. The alarm sound was now barely audible.
Thank you Mr. Langhorne.
Note: If you can initiate constructive change in NYC... you can do it anywhere.
Assembly woman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) announced that Governor David Paterson has signed legislation (A.8300-A) she authored to help improve air quality by reducing diesel emissions from truck idling. She was joined by representatives of Willow Run Foods and the New York State Motor Truck Association for the announcement at Willow Runs Foods in Kirkwood, today.
The new law (Chapter 434 of 2010) authored by Lupardo will allow trucks to install auxiliary power units (APUs) without diminishing the amount of freight they can legally carry.
An APU provides heating, cooling, and electricity to the sleeper cabs of trucks. An APU can weigh up to 400 pounds, which may not seem like a significant amount, but can easily translate to an additional pallet of freight. The loss of one pallet multiplied over thousands of trips can make the difference in the profit and a loss for trucking companies.
Lupardo’s law will encourage trucks to install APUs, which will reduce the idling of diesel engines and improve air quality. Without an APU, a truck would need to run its diesel engine to provide the necessary heating or cooling so that a driver would be able to safely and comfortably meet his or her rest requirements. The use of these units eliminates the need for a commercial vehicle to idle while the driver meets his federally and state mandated rest periods.
The law goes into effect on November 28, 2010.
“Not only do companies need to make a significant monetary investment to install an APU, but they would also lose freight capacity due to the added weight of the device,” said Lupardo, a member of the Transportation Committee in the Assembly. “Now, with this new law, those who install an APU won’t have the additional weight count against them.
Manufacturers and the trucking industry will be able to improve shipping efficiency by shipping more and using less fuel for idling. And by encouraging truck fleets to install APU’s, we can help reduce emissions and improve air quality.
“APU’s help our drivers comply with local idling ordinances, reduce emissions and noise, and save on the costs associated with fuel and maintenance,” said Len Basso, Vice President for Transportation at Willow Run Foods. “Idle times are closely monitored by our company and any opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and still keep our drivers comfortable during their mandatory berth periods is a significant factor in our decision making process. APU’s are a proven technology and we sincerely appreciate Assemblywoman Lupardo’s efforts in sponsoring this new law which will directly benefit weight-limited trucks and environmentally conscientious companies such as Willow Run Foods, Inc.”
“The New York State Motor Truck Association has always promoted safety and compliance in the trucking industry,” said Michael Chellis, Vice-Chairman for the NYSMTA. “This legislation will enable trucking companies to reduce their idling time without jeopardizing a driver’s safety, while still utilizing their full cargo capabilities. Carriers will no longer have to choose between carrying a full cargo load and reducing emissions. I applaud Assemblywoman Lupardo for her continued efforts in improving the environment in New York. I am confident that we will make great strides in reducing emissions through our continued proactive efforts on the part of the industry, and collaboration with the Legislature on issues such as these.”
The bill was sponsored by Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida) in the state Senate.