In a big city, double-parked, idling delivery vehicles are a constant noise and pollution nuisance. New York City’s idea, first implemented in 2019, is to find and fine those illegal idlers—but not with traffic cops. No, ordinary New Yorkers are effectively deputized to report idling commercial vehicles under a law called the Citizens Air Complaint Program—and those who successfully prove an offense occurred get a cut of the fines levied on the offenders.
The fines start at $250, and the citizen reporting the violation gets a quarter of the fine—at least $87.50. That’s not chump change, but the real eye opener is how some intrepid New Yorkers are making these bounties add up. Per NBC New York, a few especially efficient citizen reporters have made serious money. We’re talking about $125,000 for a single guy, out of a reported $2.3 million in total fines since the law was implemented.
According to NBC, Donald Blair is part of a group called the IDLE Warriors. Some of his compatriots have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in bounties, but Blair seems to be the top earner by a long shot.
While that’s eye-opening, you may be surprised to hear about who’s paying—or NOT paying—the fines. Namely, Amazon—which has $250,000 in unpaid violations—per NBC, is the biggest culprit. There are $8 million in other unpaid fines, including from UPS and FedEx. NBC reports that 11,500 of these fines were issued last year. The city is apparently working on getting better about collecting unpaid fines, even floating the idea of impounding vehicles until payment is made.
That said, if you live in New York and want to try your hand at idling bounty hunting, head over the the NYC.gov page that has all the details and grab a smartphone; one must record an idling vehicle for a set period of time (that length depends on the area) and submit it to the city. Hey, maybe you’ll be cleaning up Gotham like Batman, except he was rich and didn’t need the money—and you do. So get to it, hero!