Idling Gets You Nowhere

Idling awareness campaign at Tom Thomson School
Students promoting idling awareness at Tom Thomson Public School

If idling gets you nowhere, why do so many people idle their vehicles unnecessarily instead of turning their engines off?

Myths: Idling is the best way to warm up a vehicle. Turning a vehicle on and off produces more emissions than letting a vehicle idle.

Reality: The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it and idling for “over 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more carbon dioxide compared to restarting your engine.”

Myth: It’s cold outside. I need to idle.

Reality: While idling might be necessary occasionally, it is encouraged that one also manually clears the snow and ice from their vehicle. This will help lower emissions, save you money and also reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of a car theft.

Idling Metal Sign
Idling metal signs posted around the City of Burlington

Did you know?

  • Halton Regional Police have issued reminders on several occasions in the colder months stating that “the primary cause of vehicle thefts this time of year is vehicles left idling and unattended.”
  • Since 2009, there have been 82 tickets and 69 warnings issued by the city’s parking enforcement officers.
  • Vehicles that are left unattended and idling for over one minute in Burlington, including those on driveways, can be ticketed $100.
  • Vehicles in Burlington account for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in our community. Turning your engines off helps to reduce emissions.

To learn more about the Parking and Idling By-law, please visit

Take Action Burlington! Turn your engines off. Collectively, we can make a difference.

9 thoughts on “Idling Gets You Nowhere

    1. Drive-throughs are a permitted use in the City of Burlington, with the exception of the downtown area due to traffic management issues. The purpose of a drive-through lane is to use one’s vehicle to obtain a service. While considered a convenience for some, one of the consequences is idling. The intention of the Parking and Idling Bylaw has always been to address unnecessary idling (e.g. idling while waiting for someone). Vehicles in drive-through lanes are considered to be similar to vehicles in traffic congestion.


  1. I don’t understand the logic here. Vehicles in traffic are actually going somewhere. Drive-thrus are unnecessary as you should park your vehicle and enter the coffee shop or bank do do your business without idling.


    1. The one time a drive through is useful/necessary is when a parent has young children in a car and wants to stop for, say a coffee. it is a major time consuming task to unbuckle them to take them inside since they can not be left alone in the car. If a stroller is involved, the job is even more time consuming. Maybe drive throughs could be subject to HOV like rules restricting their use to parents with young children in the car……just wondering.


  2. I think it would show some coherence on this (and other environmental issues) if Burlington would implement roundabouts instead of yet another traffic light, which only serve to increase the amount of time vehicles sit idling. I would point out that the solution to traffic at Appleby Line at Lakeshore was, instead of implementing a roundabout, was to *increase* the length of the left-turn lane on Appleby and thereby ensuring that more vehicles would idle in traffic.


    1. Thank you for your comments. Roundabouts are considered as an alternative to a traditional signalized intersection for all new and retrofit construction projects. However, given the significant land requirements associated with roundabouts, there is reduced opportunity to convert existing signalized intersections to roundabouts.


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