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Thread: Street sweeping

  1. #1

    Street sweeping

    Why is street sweeping so heavily relied upon in urban areas? I daily get calls regarding glass in the street and other miscellaneous debris (trash, mufflers, rugs, etc). I don't understand the urban residents lack of desire to clean up their own portion of roadway. In the rural area I live, I gladly pick up trash regularly from my front lawn and ditch and even go 100'+ in both directions and across the road. Why can't/don't urban residents take the same pride in their own property and neighborhood? Is this "amenity" of street sweeping taken for granted, or are these people just lazy? Street sweepers shouldn't be needed except for the occasional spill or accident cleanup. What would urban residents do without the street sweeper, would that trash just keep piling up? It seems people litter more in urban areas, but the adjacent property owners and residents should have the same (or even more) level of pride in their properties and want to keep their streets clean. Maybe I just have it all backward, because after all the street sweeper(s) will be around in a few days to clean it up. I just don't understand this mentality.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Hmmm I never thought of street sweepers as the way to pick up trash. They were always there to remove dirt. It is much more efficient to remove dirt with a giant scrubber and water than just by having everyone out there with push brooms. I know my City has done away with sweeping as much as it used to and it took me hours to clean my street that way.

    I can recall a CMAQ application I reviewed once that wanted to replace some street sweepers with new ones in an area with a PM-2.5 problem. I was having a hard time getting the community to understand that a sweeper would not solve the PM-problem, that would happen at the source of the emission and that if they went for a NOx or CO benefit it could be better explained (replacing old poor emission equipment with new equipment). They could not provide me any evidence that the new machines would be any cleaner burning than the old ones!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    I live on a very busy street, one of the busiest in Boston. It would be impractical for me to sweep it. The traffic is too fast and heavy for me to safely be in the street. I suppose I could personally sweep it during our weekly street cleaning when parking is banned (Friday mornings from midnight to 8AM), but I am not usually awake at midnight and I am at work by 8AM. Then there is the problem of where to put the stuff I sweep up. We don't have a storage space in our entyway to our building. I guess I could put a plastic garbage bag in the hallway, but if the fire department inspectors saw that, we would get cited for obstructing the exits, and my neighbors would be unhappy becuase the entry is narrow enough as it is. We have no backyard or garage to store things in. Or I guess I could haul up evrything I bagged up three flights of stairs, but then do I really want stuff swept off the street in my apartment until trash day? What if something crawls out of the bag? Plus there is often so much rubbish that it would be multiple bags, not just one. There is a bus stop, lots of pedestrians going to the City Hospital a couple of blocks away, and three convenience store, all resulting in people dropping things on the sidewalk in front of my building. The person who cleans our building common areas (paid by the condo association) sweeps the steps and 6' x 10' paved area in front of our building and bags up and takes away that junk once a week. But by the next day its a mess.

  4. #4
    I live in an urban area and I pick up the trash in front of my house whenever I see it (and in front of my neighbors, as I'm sure they do in front of mine). After picking up seemingly 300 or so bags or cups of discarded white castles and assorted other trash every year, it gets old. It's obvious this stuff is discarded by people passing through and not by anybody that lives in my neighborhood.

    I also sweep the street and sidewalk in front of my house after we mow the grass (my neighbors also do this). Within a day, however, the street is dirty again (we have ADT on our street in excess of 11,500). We also have no curb inlets for several blocks in either direction, so cleaning the curb line is important to keep positive drainage on our street.

    Residents cannot sweep leaves into the curb anymore because of the CWA. (With two small kids, we never have done this -- you gotta be able to jump in to a pile of leaves from time to time, no?)

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