Grocery carts: a tech solution?

Resting place: A Fred Meyer cart has been parked at Waverly Cemetery for some time.

Resting place: A Fred Meyer cart has been parked in the brush at Waverly Cemetery for some time.

Some years ago Albany passed a city ordinance to put a stop to the nuisance of grocery carts being taken from stores and abandoned all over town. It's an elaborate law, and as far as I can see it has done almost no good. Could there be a technological solution?

Under the city law, carts are supposed to be labeled with the stores' names and phone numbers. People are supposed to be able to call the stores to pick up errant carts. Or the city will pick them up and the stores can get them back for a $50 fee.  But it hasn't worked all that well. Grocery carts still show up in Periwinkle Creek and lots of other places where they don't normally belong. Councilor Bill Coburn mentioned the problem at a recent city council meeting. He brought it up because somebody had complained to him.

Well, if laws don't work, maybe the answer lies in technology, maybe even from overseas. I've been reading a bike blog named "Town Mouse," by Sally Hinchcliffe, who writes with an engaging mixture of wit and charm about life in rural Scotland, where she moved from London in 2008. In the archives of her blog, there's a story about a particular grocery "trolley" she and her other half liked to use. It was better and special because, unlike all the others at that store, it was NOT equipped with a gizmo intended to keep the trolleys from being taken off the parking lot and being chucked into the nearest canal.

The blog doesn't go into detail about these gizmos except to say they have the annoying habit of going off unnecessarily, thus making it hard for the users to push carts in a straight line, or to push them anywhere at all, actually. So like Ms. Hinchcliffe, we might want to avoid those kinds of carts. But if the bugs could be worked out...

Then all we'd have to do is find out just how those devices work and how much they cost, and then prevail upon the stores to put them in. (hh)

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