Cyclists forced to make way for trash

Cyclists forced to make way for trash

By Erich Wagner (File photo)

There were plenty of two-wheelers on the controversial new bike lane running along a stretch of upper King Street last week, but they weren’t bicycles.

It was trash day, and many nearby residents parked their filled-to-the-brim plastic trashcans in the five-foot lane. The waste receptacles blocked off much of the freshly painted route, which was created to make cycling on the busy stretch of road safer and easier.

But city officials said blocking the road for two-wheeled commuters was always a possibility and part and parcel of trying to improve the road without being able to widen it.

Transportation and Environmental Services Director Rich Baier said the likelihood that cyclists might have to enter regular traffic on trash day was always on the table. And he sanctioned the option in talks with neighbors.

“[Residents] have to leave [their trashcans] on the sidewalk or in the bike lane, since they only have so much room in the right of way to leave it,” Baier said. “We knew this when we went in.”

Baier noted that prior to installing the controversial bike lanes, residents similarly parked their trashcans off the curb — in the rarely used space designated for parking. He acknowledged that it is not an ideal situation, but said city officials will monitor the issue.

“There isn’t any way to make the street wider,” he said. “We may see about reviewing the policy if it becomes a problem. … But just like most of the retrofitted bike lanes, there are existing needs for service that have to be accommodated in the same right-of-way space. It’s tough.”

Kevin Posey, a cycling advocate and former member of the city traffic and parking board, said supporters of the King Street bike lanes were aware about the potential for trashcan intrusions.

“It’s not a big issue and those of us who were involved knew about it from early on,” Posey said. “There are really just a couple of people who are trying to make hay over this, but other than that most of us are ready to move on.”