Trashing the bike lanes

Trash cans in bike lanes are epidemic, and are a public danger hazard to bicyclists. Placing a trash can, or anything else, in a bike lane is a violation of California Vehicle Code (CVC):

21211 (b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.

bike-lane-trash-cansSome people misunderstand where to place their trash cans, but most people know and don’t care – I’ve had extensive conversations with many such people – they don’t think that my right to the bike lane supersedes their right to put their trash can wherever they damned well please. The photo at right is on Tupelo Drive in Citrus Heights, trash cans placed directly in a marked bike lane. Notice that it would have been easy to place them in the parking “lane” instead, but the residents chose not to. This is not just a Citrus Heights problem, this photo could as well be any street anywhere in the region.

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The claw and bike lanes

Leaf pile on 17th St, a mild one

The City of Sacramento will include on the November ballot a repeal of Measure A, from 1977, which prohibits the city from requiring green waste bins. If passed, the city has already established a policy that “the claw” would only be used during three months, November through January, and during other months, green waste bins would be required for everyone.

Why is this a transportation issue? The yard waste ends up most commonly in the bike lanes. Piles of leaves can be challenging, but branches end up in the piles as well, an almost certain guarantee of a bicycle crash. At night the dark piles don’t stand out, and I’ve hit a number of them. Once the pile is there on the street, it accumulates all sorts of other trash as well. Some jerks seem to take it as an open invitation to add household trash, and couches, and … The piles could be placed in the parking lane, but almost never are. On streets without bike lanes, the piles constitute a mine field for the bicyclist who rides close to the right. Of course one can avoid the piles by taking the travel lane, as I and many others do, but at least as many bicyclists won’t place themselves there and end up swerving back and forth to avoid the piles.

If the measure passes, we will still have three months of piles, but there should be fewer of them as many people use the green waste bins year round. In my experience, the fall is the most challenging time of year, as the abundant leaves are hit by the fall rains and decay into a slimy slippery mess. I love that Sacramento has so many trees, and therefore so many leaves, but it is still a challenge.

We’ve all experienced waste bins in the bike lanes as well, trash, recycling, and green waste. But this seems a more manageable issue to me, as the owners can be cited and the bins moved by cyclists. In my opinion, bins belong in the parking lane where one is present, and where not, in the owner’s driveway or yard. Unfortunately, law does not seem clear on this point.

Bins do not ever belong on the sidewalk. As much as I am inconvenienced by bins in the bike lane, I never want to see them on the sidewalk, where they completely block access by disabled people and make walking less pleasant for everyone. When I’m walking, I always move bins off the sidewalk and back into people’s yards or driveways. Fortunately this is not a major problem in the city of Sacramento, but is common practice in the suburbs and other cities of the region.