Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Right Up Your Alley

I can't believe some people in Springfield actually think they can't get along without have trash pick-up done from their alley instead of the end of their driveway.

But Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney, chief sponsor of the trash-reform ordinance, said he’ll fight any attempt to strip the ordinance of the alley-pickup provision. He said his constituents oppose having garbage cans on the curb when they could be in the alleys out of public view.

“That is one of the No. 1 issue I hear from neighborhood groups,” Mahoney said. “At some point, we have to decide what’s good for the look of the entire city.”

WTF? You put your cans in the garage, or the side of the house, or in the back yard, or in a shed, or wherever. Then you move the cans to the street on trash day. Later, when the garbage has been picked up, you bring the cans back to wherever you keep them. Many of us do that now. It's no big deal.

I grew up in a neighborhood that had alleys. We (me and my friends) loved them. Alleys were not only great places to find all manners of junk and the occasional Playboy magazine, but they offered a traffic-free way to get around. We owned the alleys!

I'm not sure when they stopped including alleys in new developments around here, sometime in the 1950s or early 1960s I would imagine. As a kid, I wondered how people got along without them. It seemed to me back then that it would be a pain to have to put out and bring in trash cans. We had ours sitting in the same spot in the alley until they rusted through and we had to replaced them. We took the trash to the can and that was that.

But alleys were also dirty and a bit unsafe. Occasionally, for reasons I never understood, people would cut through alleys in their cars at high rates of speed. Additionally, spilled trash was everywhere. Back when I was a kid, that was mostly due to loose dogs dumping over the cans for a quick snack. That's a problem that has largely gone away though as dogs don't run loose in the city like they used too (but that's for another blog post).

I can see where someone who is used to never having to move their trash cans might have gotten used to convenience, but it really makes more sense to put it out on the curb for the reasons Allied Waste cites in the SJ-R article.

Allied has gradually stopped alley pickup over the past couple of years as it has increased the size of its trucks so that it has to have fewer on the streets. Barnett said that allows the company to use less fuel and more environmentally friendly fuels, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Accidents — of which Allied had 17 last year — are another factor in not picking up in alleys.
I would add to that, the city will not have to maintain the alleys nearly to the degree they do now if those big garbage trucks aren't using them. Let them use streets that are designed to handle such loads.

As an adult, I've mostly had to put my trash out for street pickup. It's not that big a deal. Get the cans with wheels and they are easy to move. You'll adjust.


JeromeProphet said...

Why not just go back to municipal pick up?


Marie said...

One minor clarification: The city doesn't actually maintain the alleys. Like the parkways and sidewalks, the upkeep of alleys are the responsibility of the property owner.

Marie said...

Um, well, I may have to take back what I just said. From the City Code: "§ 33.281. Powers and duties. Without limiting those powers and duties prescribed by law and ordinance, the department of streets shall maintain and repair city streets, sidewalks, alleys, and to the extent not otherwise assigned, all other public rights of way."

I don't know if that language is superseded elsewhere. But, in the past when we've needed paving, pothole repair, etc., the city told us we had to pay for it or do it ourselves.

JeromeProphet said...

They maintain it on their schedule, and if you ask for special treatment, like paving outside their normal schedule, they'll charge for that.