Anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s remembers the joy that came from hearing the ice cream truck's jingle on a warm summer day. Eager little hands would pull at the arms of parents who only had seconds to decide whether ice cream would be bought or ignored.
More often than not, the ice cream would be bought. After all, more than 90% of households in the U.S. will regularly indulge in ice cream and other sweet frozen treats.
Ice cream trucks, though less pervasive today, have still maintained their status as a summer staple across the United States. Unfortunately for London-based ice cream trucks, this long ride is finally coming to an end.
According to a recent report by the Guardian, city councils of the surrounding London area are banning the presence of ice cream trucks over concerns regarding air pollution.
Ice cream trucks need to run constantly in order to keep their product cold, even when parked in idle. Paired with the fact that many of these trucks use diesel engines, this can lead to high levels of pollution while a truck is in operation. It's estimated by Vice that an idling truck wastes more than six billion gallons of fuel each year.
"Idling vehicles pump harmful chemicals like NO2 and black carbon into the air, which is why at Westminster city council we are introducing measures to reduce, and in some cases remove, traffic around schools and other public spaces," notes a spokesperson for the Westminster city council.
It's estimated that air pollution contributes to more than 5% of lung cancer cases in American men and up to 3% of cases in American women. While this is much lower than the 21,000 people who suffer from lung cancer as a result of radon poisoning, which is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., air pollution can contribute to a number of other health issues.
The London bylaw already demands that ice cream trucks need to move locations every 15 minutes to prevent high levels of pollution in one area. Unfortunately, many of these trucks ignore these bylaws or these rules are not enforced properly by the public.
Camden and Westminster are among the first cities to ban ice cream trucks, but this isn't a shocking decision for Camden. The London-area city had already established more than 40 streets where ice cream trucks were banned over environmental concerns.
Other areas around London have started implementing Low Emissions Zones and Ultra-Low Emission Zones, known as Ulez. These areas demand taxes for the use of certain roads.
"This is a serious health issue," notes Caroline Russel, member of the Green Party London Assembly. "The Ulez charge has helped but we can't have a situation where you can pay to pollute. The roaming vans that trade in different streets every day, those will disappear over the next few years."
But some areas are holding onto their love for the time-old trucks. It's estimated that the widespread use of energy efficient products could cut carbon pollution by more than 550 million metric tons by 2050. With this idea at the forefront, the city councils of Richmond and Tower Hamlets are toying with the idea of establishing power points in parks and other high traffic areas to mitigate harmful pollution. If the trucks are able to hook up to an outlet, they won't need to stay in idle when they sell their product.