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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Golden idles


A reader writes:

I enjoyed your header image with the Bridge Pedal pic on the Fremont Bridge. My family really enjoyed the ride. Funny thing though -- did you notice that the service vehicles utilized to block traffic or re-direct (police cars, ODOT, Tri-Met, etc) along the routes all had their engines on and idling? I'm curious why this is. In fact, I was on Naito from 7:45 to 8:45 waiting for my group to join up and monitored this unmarked police car (see attached) parked (on Naito amongst the riders) for the same amount of time until we were given the signal to start. The officer's radio was tuned to sports talk, the paper was being thoroughly devoured, and the engine was idling for at least 1 hour.

Gas must be cheap for city workers.

Comments (9)

Not that it is a total excuse but Police cars suck batteries big time when turned off but still in use, it doesn't take long and they are dead. Sounds like another project for our idiot Mayor: hybrid cop cars.

Not to mention the lovely signs about town telling the public not to idle their cars. Do as I say, not as I do, rules this town.


At least there's only one cop per car.

That's downright efficient compared to the 4 guys standing around the hole at most B.E.S. jobs.

The police radios used for communication drain the battery, big time.

I'm amazed at the number of full-size trucks, Jeep Grand Cherokees (rated as having one of the lowest environmental scores of any vehicle, even lower than a Hummer!), full-sized police cars...one would think that Portland, being a "leading" city, would be a bit more proactive.

We have one of the worst bus fleets - Seattle, Vancouver and San Francisco have 100% electric trolleybuses (Seattle's power mix is also 90% green compared to Portland's less than 50% green power); and Vancouver has a fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell buses.

Portland is full of full-sized, V8 powered Crown Vics - why not put cops on bikes, motorcycles, and for those who actually need a car - smaller econocars? Keep a few Crown Vics for traffic/pursuit duty but every cop doesn't need one. Use a Sprinter Van as a paddy wagon for arrestee transport to jail rather than have each individual officer personally drive across town to the Justice Center.

Europe is full of various fire-fighting apparatus that is much smaller and nimble - but just as effective - as American equipment. Certainly Daimler Trucks North America (Freightliner) can find some synergies with its parent, Mercedes...? Considering that the majority of "fire" calls are really medic calls, do we need a full size fire truck AND an ambulance on each medic call? TVF&R in Washington County is figuring that out and putting medics in Toyota FJ Cruisers (specifically because of their off-road, all-wheel drive capability and that in a crunch there's enough room to transport a patient on a stretcher in it) which is a lot cheaper than a giant fire truck.

And why does the City have such a huge motor pool for its administrative staff? Whatever happened to being a transit-loving city? Certainly some of those desk jockeys can use a bus instead of driving themselves somewhere...?

And why does the City have such a huge motor pool for its administrative staff?

Do you have numbers of cars used by city staff?
Would be interesting to see if Mayor's staff and the transportation staff uses transit.

Here's some info on CoP's car fleet


The killer is there are lots of broken links off this page and subsequent pages.

Idle reduction policy:


From that document:

"Presently, the CityFleet Division of the Office of Management and Finance manages about 2,850 vehicles and equipment. Of this total amount, 2,372 of the vehicles and equipment run on either unleaded fuel or blends of bio-diesel. The City purchases approximately 1.2 million gallons of unleaded and 650,000 gallons of bio-diesel for a total of about 1.9 million gallons of fuel per year. According to Fleet industry analysis, reducing idle time can save about 12% of the fuel we consume. This equates to a potential savings of about 228,000 gallons per year."

I would pay mileage to everybody who drives a city owned vehicle that doesn't carry work tools/equipment in it.

The libertarian in me thinks "If it doesn't have a siren on it, why should the city own it?" The obvious exception are the guys who wear orange and hard hats to work: but we'd be much better served if that work was outsourced to the most competitive bidder anyway.

How many Priui does one city need with such a wonderful multi-modal transit system?

it is interesting to note (I assume this is still correct) that the State Motor Pool is located on Swan Island, while the employees all work downtown.

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