LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: No idling
The following was sent to Interstate Navigation and copied to The Block Island Times:
To the Editor,
Since my parents first purchased a home on Mohegan Trail in 1980, I’ve been a frequent Block Island ferry customer. In the early ‘80s that meant bouncy voyages on the Manitou and Manisses and occasionally the excitement of a trip aboard the historic wooden Block Island.
Now, as a parent, I enjoy seeing the 13- mile passage through the eyes of my own children. The new Interstate boats are bigger, the seats more comfortable and the snacks and drinks much improved, but in essence the experience is unchanged.
But there is one difference that has made the trip significantly worse: The car loading-lot air quality.
In recent years I’ve noticed that no matter how mild the day, how pleasant the breeze, some folks bringing cars to the island seem unable survive without running their engine for the duration of the wait to load.
The smell of the salt air, bait docks, clam cakes and suntan lotion I remember, is now overwhelmed by a cascade of car exhaust fumes. Often it starts with just one car, then another, then another until most of the cars in the lot have rolled up windows, running AC while the blacktop bakes and me, my kids and Interstate employees are all breathing a poison exhaust cocktail including:
-sulfur dioxide, (associated with asthma)
-benzene (impacts bone marrow and cancers and is linked to cancers like leukemia)
Given the potent impacts of a warming climate, including rising seas and species migration (bye-bye R.I. lobster), one might imagine Block Island summer travelers would have greater awareness of the impact of running car engines as highly inefficient air conditioners or cell phone chargers. But they don’t.
I’m sending a copy of this letter and two ‘no idling’ signs to Interstate that could be posted if they see fit. That at least would be a start to making drivers think twice before polluting the air and the lungs of Interstate employees and anyone like me wanting our kids to fully breathe in an old summer tradition.