The Big Trash Day Dilemma – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

The Big Trash Day Dilemma

Written April 11th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
The Salem avenue bike lane was clear, but the sidewalk wasn't.

The west-bound Salem Avenue bike lane was clear Monday, but the sidewalk wasn’t.

Where to put your garbage and recycling cans on the weekly trash day is a perplexing and occasionally vexing question without a universal solution. Luckily, it doesn’t matter as long as everybody realizes there are no easy answers and acts accordingly.

Placed in the bike lanes, trash cans may force cyclists out into traffic. Put the bins on the sidewalk and you’ll interfere with pedestrians and may even completely block somebody who uses a wheelchair. Balance them in the parking strip, they’re likely to tip over. And once the trucks have come by, the cans they leave behind are never in exactly the same spot anyway.

This came up during Monday’s work session of the Albany City Council.  Jim Lawrence and Tim McCloud of the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission talked to the council. A letter to the council from Lawrence summed it up with this heading: “Roadway Safety Hazard – Obstacles in Roadway Travel Lanes.”

What to do? “It will require education and engineering with enforcement as a last resort,” the letter said. “We are asking you to appoint a committee to draft policy for council’s approval that would address and eliminate the problem.”

Council members were not inclined to go as far as to make a new law or get the police involved. They pretty much agreed that talking about the issue, making residents aware of the potential for accidents and such, and relying on people’s good sense were the way to go.

Because of the great variety of conditions on Albany streets – sidewalks or none, parking allowed or not, bike lines or no lanes, parking strips, ditches or gutters, and so forth – writing a regulation would be as hopeless as trying to enforce it.

And as for trash cans in the bike lanes, I’ve never found it difficult or dangerous to slip past them on my bike. One requirement: Keep your eyes out front and look where you’re going, which is pretty much the same advice whether you’re on the road or in a bike lane, on two wheels or behind one, or even if you’re on foot. (hh)

5 responses to “The Big Trash Day Dilemma”

  1. Nommel says:

    When I used to ride my bike on Gibson Hill Rd while being forced into the 45mph traffic lane to dodge trash cans I was definitely frustrated. Especially when people weren’t considerate about keeping them from blocking the bike lane as much as possible.

    Maybe the best way to deal with this is to treat it like the pan handling law at the train station overpass where drivers are responsible for enabling panhandlers. Make Republic Services responsible if they dump illegally parked trash cans. It will only take once or twice of no trash pick up to resolve the issue.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      If they don’t pick up the cart, it’ll just sit another week.

      Frequently, Republic IS the problem. People will place their carts the best thy can and Republic will leave them overturned, etc.

      BTW- If dealing with Republic about overturned carts etc.-
      Don’t bother with calling the customer service number.
      Just post a picture of the transgression on their Facebook page. They delete it immediately, but DO respond to you.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    The main problem I have is people that leave there carts in the bike lanes for days at a time.
    One can understand that not every street is conducive to traffic and trash carts. Maybe a $5 “privilege tax” /day/container after the 2nd day they remain out for chronic abusers.

  3. centrist says:

    3 thoughts about this “fart in a mitten” as a manager said often
    Accommodate others. They’re not really out to get you
    Faced with an insoluble problem, folks do what they can
    Some bicycle folks need to loosen their shorts so they can think more clearly. I was driving a road tour route near Sisters and came upon a support worker for a bike tour. She had me pull toward the road edge, but there wasn’t enough room to completely clear the lane. group of happy cyclists came past. BANG, water bottle bounces off the roof and marks the paint. Sure makes me want to back cycling…………..


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