A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Trash cans in the bike lane: A common lament

Written August 29th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Looking west along the bike lane on Salem Avenue on Monday afternoon.

Bill Clotere, a reader in North Albany, had a suggestion for a “topic for a boring day”: Trash cans in the bike lanes, sometimes left there long after the pick-up day has passed.

Bill and I have been acquainted since he managed the Sears store downtown, some 30 or 40 years ago. The other day he sent an email that said in part: “A neighbor and I have been riding about 5 miles daily, and (our) route usually includes Spring Hill and North Albany Road. And a can or two in the bike lane can be a real terrifying experience!”

This is a common complaint from people on bikes not just here but all over Oregon and elsewhere, as you’ll find if you google it. Sometimes there’s something that could be done about it if people cared. Other times no, there’s nothing that can reasonably be done even if people do care.

Take Salem Avenue in Albany, for instance. There’s a bike lane, but no parking lane. People living along the street could put their trash cans and their bins for recycling and yard debris on the curb. But in some places that would obstruct the sidewalk. And if a disabled person came along in a wheelchair, he’d be stuck.

For people on bikes, bins in the bike lane are much less of a problem. We’ll just go around them, veering into the driving lane if necessary. Hoping all the time that drivers coming up from behind will see us and give us room to get around the obstruction in the lane.

It’s supposed to be unlawful to block bike lanes. But then again, people have to be able to have their trash picked up.

The way to deal with this potential conflict is for everybody to be aware and to minimize potential problems for other people: Households can get the cans back in as soon as possible. Cyclists can carefully maneuver around any cans left in the lanes. Motorists can keep an eye out and slow down if there’s a cyclist ahead and trash cans in the lane.

Seems to me this is one problem that a combination of common sense and courtesy can easily solve. (hh)

Also on Salem Avenue, trash cans on the curb, leaving the bike lane free but partially blocking the sidewalk.

6 responses to “Trash cans in the bike lane: A common lament”

  1. Cheryl P says:

    You do realize that many people leave for work before trash is picked up?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      You do realize many of them leave their carts in the bike lanes for days on end?
      You did read the article didn’t you?
      “……… Households can get the cans back in as soon as possible.”

    • Bill Clotere says:

      Totally understand that, the frustration is when the cans are still in the bike lane 2 or three days after pick up day!

  2. J. Jacobson says:

    Hering’s alleged “problem” flows directly as a result of failed leadership.

    In the not very distant past, when the idea of bike lanes became a thing, the pedaling class convinced political leaders that our streets, most of which were designed to carry motorized vehicular traffic, should be squeezed to grant bicycles protected status. Remember that most roads were constructed long before the Foot-Powered Glitterati demanded more. As a result of this spineless cave-in, we are now subjected to the ire of bicyclists demanding equality even as they demand they need not Stop at Stop Signs. Enough is enough.

  3. thomas earl cordier says:

    I live in a residential neighborhood with curbs and sidewalks. I place containers on the sidewalk at the curb. Better to have walkers exercise care than autos/bikers dodging street containers. Don’t know why the majority place their stuff in the roadway–seems nuts to me.


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