A few weeks back, my boyfriend and I took a bike ride through the beautiful Texas Hill Country, up and down rolling hills, occasionally catching a glimpse of shining Lake LBJ below. It was one of those days that seem so unreal for December, with the crisp air and sunshine contributing to perfect temps of 60 and 70 degrees.
Many of us have an outdoor activity that is rejuvenating. For me, it is enjoying nature from the seat of my bike. As we took on a particularly large incline, a large truck raced in front of us. He sprayed us with black smoke for many meters, and as he rode along beside us, he continued to shower us with exhaust. He then sped off as fast as he had appeared.
Shocked, I thought that surely this man did not understand how much smoke his vehicle was emitting! Unfortunately, I soon discovered that this incident was not only intentional, but that it is a fad, called “smoking bikers.” Check it out.
How To Report Smoking Vehicles
Although this outrageous behavior exists, I am happy to say that there are actions we can take to eradicate this incident and those like it – by reporting smoking vehicles in Texas. In fact, we can take a stand not only in this case, but for smoking vehicles across the state.
Other scenarios of ‘smoking vehicles’ are less intentional. I’m sure we’ve all gotten caught behind a bus spraying gray smoke into the air. You smell the fumes, roll up your window, close the vents, and can’t wait to get around that guy. Not pleasant.
Vehicles and Air Pollution
Did you know that Americans waste 3.8 million gallons of fuel everyday by idling our cars unnecessarily? Carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – and carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas
– are the primary air pollutants produced by a car. The EPA reports that the average passenger car releases nearly 9 thousand pounds of CO2 every year.
The American Lung Association in California and leading health and medical organizations throughout the country support regulations to avoid healthcare costs from reduced air pollutions. For example, California’s Clean Air Programs are estimated to avoid $8.3 B in avoided health costs by 2025 from reduced air pollution. Pollution from cars, trucks and dependence on fossil fuels are the main culprit for air pollution and its huge health toll. Read more here.
Luckily, you can be part of the solution. Keep your car in good working order. You can report vehicles that smoke excessively via the Smoking Vehicle Program, sponsored by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Help these guys get the word to owners of smoking vehicles in Texas.
The next time you see a car, truck or bus anywhere in Texas with dirty smoke coming from its exhaust for more than 10 consecutive seconds, simply write down the license number, date, time and city where you saw it. You can submit a report online in English or in Spanish, or by calling 1-800-453-SMOG (7664). You don’t have to give your name, and the report is free.
The TCEQ will notify the owner of the problem and will provide information regarding how car maintenance will improve the vehicle’s performance.
Other Ways to Help The Environment
Help us keep our roads (and air) clean! And we can all continue to enjoy bike rides (and hikes and sunsets and views) like this.