How to Decrease Idling around Schools

By Jenn Martin, Newton Safe Routes to School Task Force – 
53 new Blue Zone signs (below) went up beginning of October at most Newton elementary schools and  two middle schools. At the bottom of the sign, in large letters on red background it states: “NO IDLING PER STATE LAW“. This is a big improvement from the previous hodgepodge of signs – thank you NPS and DPW! 
Schools that have signs: Burr, Cabot, Countryside, Franklin, Horace Mann, Lincoln-Eliot, Mason Rice, Memorial Spaulding, Ward, Williams, Zervas, Oak Hill and Brown.
The best way to decrease idling around schools is through parent and student education about the health impact for those in and around cars and the environmental impact of idling. 
If there are areas that could benefit from additional “No Idling” signs, like bus loops, Mass Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offers free signs to schools. Each school must order their own signs. Here are instructions on how to do this. Please check with your school’s green team (and principal) first as SRTS presented this information to green teams in the School Connections August meeting, and some green teams are working on having them installed. 
Mass DEP also has free pledge cards, windshield decals, bumper stickers, and information bookmarks you can order. Check with your PTO and Principal on the best way to start a campaign. A few ideas of who could help implement one: 1) an already-existing student green team or environmental club; 2) 5th grade student council (if your school has one); 3) or the elected School Council. Student-made posters or banners near the Blue Zone work well as a reminder. 
With the new Blue Zone signs, Newton Safe Routes is promoting a series on “No Idling” on their Facebook page, which can be shared widely. 

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