Idling thoughts

The Current’s Barb Abney asked me a question a few minutes ago for which I had no answer.


Is the Minneapolis no-idling law in effect when it’s cold as all getout?

Yes and no, the News Cut research department reports. The law, which bans vehicles from idling for longer than 3 minutes, carries this get-out-jail free card:

There are exceptions to the three minute idling restriction for cars and most other gas or diesel powered vehicles.


1. Vehicles may idle when stopped in traffic.

2. Police, fire, ambulance, public safety or other City vehicles may remain running to operate lights, circulate water in tanks or maintain accessories needed during emergency or enforcement activities.

3. Police K9 or Animal Control vehicles may remain running to maintain a safe climate for animals.

4. City vehicles may remain running at job sites during inclement weather if a supervisor grants authorization.

5. Idling is allowed to diagnose repair needs.

6. Idling is allowed if needed to operate defrosters, heaters or air conditioners to prevent a safety or health emergency.

7. Vehicles may idle up to 15 minutes in a one hour period if the outside air temperature is less than zero degrees or higher than 90 degrees.

One might argue that #6 would trump #7 and allow unrestricted idling.

  • Carolynn

    I am always mystified by this practice. I can understand a brief warmup when first starting a cold car (2-3 minutes, and my car is 15 years old), but to let it run in a parking lot is only a waste of gas and unnecessarily polluting. It seems really either an extreme redneck or outrageous entitlement kind of thing.

  • Lily

    For older people or those with young children it is sometimes necessary to idle to keep them warm. They lose heat much more quickly than those of us in the middle age group. There are many exceptions to every good rule.

  • Bonnie

    Does St. Paul have similar? Because I’m going to bust some co-workers with remote auto-starters if I can.

  • http://www.secretsofthecity.com/talk/posts/idle-threat Bob Moffitt

    We hashed this out over on the Secrets of the City/Talk MNSpeak site a few days ago.

    Click on my name for link.