A Garbage Truck Solution

This guest post was written by Ashley C. Light edits have been made for clarity. 

I hardly ever drove in the city until I made the decision this year during COVID to drive my daughter to school. That’s when I discovered the headache of dealing with garbage trucks. Is there a reason that rush hour is the time these trucks service one way, one lane streets? I have no idea, but there has to be a reason, right?

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Being stuck behind a garbage truck for upwards of 20 minutes when scrambling to make it to school on time is frustrating as a driver, it’s frustrating as a passenger in a vehicle (just ask my daughter!), and I’m sure it must be frustrating for the workers on the garbage trucks who are constantly being honked and yelled at. It also poses a safety hazard for all the pedestrians trying to get where they are going amongst the frustrated drivers.

If you have lived in NYC for any amount of time you know garbage is a problem. And it is a big problem when garbage piles up on the sidewalk. I remember when I moved here almost 12 years ago, someone told me to always avoid the garbage bags on the sidewalks. All it takes is one rat running between your legs to make that piece of advice stick in your head. Having sanitation workers remove the trash that piles up on the street is a vital part of keeping the city livable. I’m just trying to get my head around why the garbage trucks come out at the most inconvenient time during the morning rush.

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If cars, cabs, ambulances, fire trucks and delivery drivers all need to share the road with garbage and recycling trucks, why can’t we come up with a way to make it easier on everyone?

I have an app on my phone that will tell me exactly when the next M86 bus will arrive or the next B train will pull into the station, but there is no way for me to know that there is a recycling truck picking up 3 refrigerators on top of their normal pickup on the one-lane street of my daughter’s school right at drop off time.

Wouldn’t it be so helpful to know where the garbage trucks are and which way they are headed while navigating the Upper West Side?

How much easier would it be for everyone else on the road if there was an app that would tell you where all the garbage/recycling trucks were and what path they’re taking? Perhaps such an app could also alert people to smaller road construction projects that don’t show up on regular map apps, or if a movie crew is going to be blocking traffic, even when ConEd closes streets, even if only for 10 minutes. All of those seemingly small things add up to big headaches.

New York’s infrastructure was not designed for our 21st century lives. And like many other things, huge sweeping changes can’t be made over night. But small changes – like an app that could help drivers avoid garbage trucks – could make a world of difference.

In a future NYC, it would be wonderful if public transit was so clean, safe and reliable that fewer people would need to drive. But until that happens … lets work together to make navigating the city streets more pleasant.

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