Boulder photo radar vans produce tons of carbon along with thousands of speeding tickets

March 17, 11:51 AM Add a Comment

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The City of Boulder photo radar vans are constantly running and producing tons of carbon each year

Matt Nemeth rides his bike down Valmont Road in Boulder everyday over lunch to get a bit of exercise.
About a mile West of where Valmont Road turns into Edgewood Drive a nondescript white van is parked along the side of the road. What catches Nemeth attention, day after day, is that the white van is constantly idling.
The white van is one of two that the city of Boulder uses for photo radar enforcement.
"Well I just think that it is absurd that Boulder is such a green city, and and yet these vans are constantly running," Nemeth said. "I think it is so hypocritical of the city," he went on to add.
Nemeth is referring to the fact that both photo radar vans are currently dumping thousands of pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
A quick check with an online auto carbon calculator relieved that Nemeth is correct is his assumption. A van of the type the city of Boulder uses for photo radar (when constantly running) can produce up to 24,455 lbs of CO2 per year.
If you double that for both vans--that almost 50,0000 lbs of carbon per year generated by the city of Boulder in their photo radar enforcement work.
To put that into perspective, that's about the equivalent of 10 Toyota hybrid Prius models (the newly minted "unofficial" car of Boulder) driving 12,000 miles per year.
The photo vans need to run continuous to operate radar and photo equipment that is used to ticket speeders, according to city police.
Well doesn't it seem odd for a city so concerned about its carbon footprint to use these vans, "said Nemeth.
But local residents who live on Edgewood could not disagree more.
"This has been great," two Edgewood Drive residents who did not want to be identified said referring to the idling photo enforcement van near their home. "It certainly is worth the carbon price when compared to all of the cars speeding down the road. You can tell immediately when the van is here," they added.
Local police will tell you that the idling vans are no different from policy cars doing the same sort of work---both leave their engines running.
The Boulder Police Department is currently working on the problem.
"We are involved in supporting a prototype program that would be battery operated," said Sarah Huntley, the Public Information Officer for the Boulder Police Department.
The new prototype van would use batteries to operate the photo radar equipment and heater/air conditioner instead of the need to run the van's engine. However the early test results of the prototype have not been successful because the batteries have not been able to power the van's heater.
We are currently working to find an alternative solution to these issues, Huntley added.
But Nemeth remains unimpressed. I think that if the city is serious about reducing its carbon footprint is should start immediately, he said.