Change comes slowly, then all at once.
First, thanks for your work on this important issue. I was thrilled to read about the passage of the law creating the ban and looked forward to its implementation.
Unfortunately for me, it seems the staff at the Marine Barracks, which is near my house, may choose to ignore the D.C. ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.
I was told that the District is not allowed to issue a fine to the federal government if its employees break a local law on a city street. Does anyone on this thread know if this is true? I haven't been able to find the legal provision that bars the District of Columbia from fining federal employees if they break D.C. laws and rules. It may be that the city can't do anything. But if that's the case, I'd like to see the section of federal or District law that effectively exempts federal employees from fines if they violate the ban. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.
Returning to this topic in the quiet season: Since the fall 22 leaf assault, when I had to pause a class because of the symphony of backpack blowers and a riding blower outside my classroom, not to mention the odor of exhaust filtering into the room, I've been asking my university (via the Office of Sustainability, who is in contact with Facilities Management) to consider switching to electrics. We outsource the landscaping. Word just reached me that our Facilities folks don't think the contractor would be able to find appropriate equipment to accomplish that. But with so many jurisdictions in the area (Northern Virginia) banning gas blowers, commercial-grade equipment must be available, yes? And as you note below, lifecycle costs are lower once the investment is made. I'm looking for any good examples to advance the dialogue before the next round. Appreciating the regional and national progress, and hoping to spur it locally..
I wanted to send you a cartoon about leaf blowers, but I failed to find a way to copy it and paste it into this space. Oh well.
I never thought I'd hear about a productive use for a leaf blower but blowing tear gas away from protestors seems like the proper way to use these machines. And thanks for mentioning my stories for Sierra magazine, Jim. I hope you're right that leaf blower users rapidly switch to electric.
Every Friday morning here in our quaint little condominium development in Norton Shores, Michigan, the lawn care crew arrives. The main cutting is done with very loud sit-on or stand-on lawnmowers, and then the trimming is done with gas-powered trimmers and then gas-powered blowers. These blowers are the big ones that go on the worker's back like a knapsack, with the flexible blower tube connected to a long, straight tube that is guided by the worker's arm. Of course the workers wear ear protection, but there is nothing like that available for the residents - of 40 units, only about 3 or 4 are occupied by someone younger than 70. A couple of weeks ago a worker left his power mower running just outside my bedroom window, while he went to get the trimmer and take care of all the edging. After about 10 minutes, I walked out and shut the beast off. I don't think it occurred to him that the noise was affecting someone else. And I don't think anyone involved considers the effects to the workers and residents of the poison that is spewed into the air.
But as much as I despise these anachronistic noisemakers I often wonder what it would cost the owner to replace them. Certainly without any financial assistance the cost would be prohibitive; if they were banned, he would be forced to shut down his business. This contractor does a good job for us, and the price is quite reasonable - less than half that of his nearest competitor. And so I'm loathe to ask the condo association to make such a request. Same goes for the state or the municipality - outlawing the noisy dinosaurs would create a financial challenge that lawn care companies - as well as many homeowners - are ill equipped to even consider. So yes - it does take a while to implement such a change, and I don't think the process you describe happening in D.C. has even been contemplated here.
But then I live in Michigan, home of Motor City, USA. There is still a great deal of motor oil running through the DNA of many of the older residents here. Like the relationship between hunting and guns, this relationship between internal combustion engines and getting things done is going to be a tough one to overcome. Of course I want it to happen sooner rather than later, but it needs to begin very, very soon.
The leaf blower ban is one of the issues nearest to my heart--and eardrums. I really commend your rational and determined approach on this matter, which will improve quality of life for everyone, even the insects.
For those who are still concerned about leaf removal, I suggest a speciaiized tool for the job, which also offers fitness benefits: a rake.
Finally, in Hong Kong, a good use of gas leaf blowers.
Yes, great point about things changing slowly and then fast. Here's hoping we'll see more of the same, to the good.
So true, so slowly, and then all at once. I am ecstatic to report that San Rafael in Marin County, CA, banned gas leaf blowers altogether as of Oct. 1. Novato in Marin County will do so on Oct. 13. We now leapfrog ahead of other towns in Marin that have ridiculous little bans limiting the days and hours. Crazy. If gas leaf blowers are pernicious on Thursdays, they are still pernicious on Fridays. I think they will roll over soon. I have worked on this issue for a long time -- and suffered the noise assaults for a long time. Victory is sweet -- and rare. Thank you, James Fallows.
I hope the successful banning of two-stroke gas powered equipment on a nation wide level will lead to other upswells in activism. Better restrictions of automatic weapons, magazine ammunition and other meaningful gun control measures should be the next tipping point to strive for.
I've had a relatively healthy diet all of my life, and from fairly early in adulthood I've paid attention to research on nutrition, and adjusted my diet accordingly. Its a few decades since I've eaten red meat in any quantity. I have also exercised all of my life, mainly bicycling into my late 30s (I've ridden around 65,000 miles) and running since then. I'm in my late 60s, and still run almost every day with my dog, for around 40 minutes.
Getting exercise runs in the family. My father could beat good tennis players half his age when he was in his early 70s. Both siblings have always exercised.
Several years ago, I started having to stop to catch my breath when I started running, and well into my usual runs. I sought medical attention, and an angiogram revealed 1/3 blockage of an artery.
It was around 2010 that the leaf blowers in my neighborhood began to get really annoying. they got even worse as the landscapers began blowing leaves through the summer rather than just spring and fall, and still worse when they started blowing the dust in the streets and on the driveways. It got so bad last year that sometimes I'd just put my work down and drive somewhere when they started up, or if I hadn't already, I'd take the dog running.
It was a huge relief this year when people stopped using them after my town passed a law banning them. But I strongly suspect the heart disease was their doing.