Billy Idol wants New Yorkers to stop idling their cars in citywide campaign
In New York City, it’s illegal for someone to leave their car’s engine on for more than three minutes; one minute if its parked next to a school. The law has been in place since 1972, but many of the busy 8 million New Yorkers might not even know it exists.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has chosen rock star and environmentalist Billy Idol to front a new social and out-of-home public awareness campaign to get people to stop idling their cars, which can aggravate asthma and contributes to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
The campaign (a play on Idol’s own name) is called “Billy Never Idles,” and includes billboards, radio and social media ads, exposure on LinkNYC, TaxiTV and placements on City fleet vehicles and a dedicated website.
One video sees Idol urging New Yorkers to turn off their cars, that the singer is also sharing on his social channels. “This city has some of the most hard working, creative and awesome people. Don’t clog our lungs with your car fumes. Billy never idles, so why should you?” Idol says in the video.
“Billy Never Idles” is a $1 million media effort, according to the City, and runs through the end of March with the supporting hashtag #BillyNeverIdles. Idol, meanwhile, is doing it for free, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
Idol was at Bill de Blasio’s side when the Mayor announced the campaign at a press conference at City Hall in New York City Thursday morning.
“It’s a nice day to start again,” Bill de Blasio said, referencing Idol’s hit “White Wedding” as he introduced a “war on idling” at City Hall.
“When I think of all the things we need to change to save our Earth, some of them are tough. We still have to do them. Some of them are not tough at all. Idling is just stupid,” said de Blasio. “Sitting there in a car, not going anywhere and running the engine anyway, and polluting the environment. Anyone who is walking by is breathing bad air. It makes no sense.”
De Blasio also said that if people stopped idling, it would be the “equivalent of taking 18,000 cars off the road every single day.
The campaign has an "if you see something, say something" twist: The city is incentivizing New Yorkers to tattle on their idling neighbors. People who report to New York City’s Citizens Air Complaint Program could be paid some actual "Mony, Mony"—around 25 percent of the violation fee, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
“Every New Yorker can be a part of this. If you see a truck or a bus idling. If you see them breaking the law and polluting the Earth, you can right there take action,” De Blasio said. “We won’t only thank you, we will pay you…We’re on the verge of losing our Earth. It’s an existential crisis.”
Although his name is perfect for the campaign, Idol himself isn’t familiar with the temptation to idle a car. He admitted at the press conference that he actually doesn’t drive cars that much, but mostly motorcycles which overheat if you let them run.