Daly City’s City Manager Says it’s Okay to Trash a Bike Lane

Trash cans blocking the bike lane on Callan in Daly City.
Trash cans blocking the bike lane on Callan in Daly City.

Patricia Martel, City Manager of Daly City, has this to say about garbage cans blocking bike lanes: “cyclists have to share the road with vehicles and waste cans [emphasis added] weekly.”

That’s right. The City Manager thinks it’s okay for homeowners to put their trash cans in a travel lane of a road–as long as that travel lane is for bikes, not cars.

The City Manager of Daly City doesn't know (or doesn't care) that bike lanes are blocked by trash cans. Photo: Daly City web page
The City Manager of Daly City doesn’t know it’s illegal (or doesn’t care) to put trash cans in bike lanes. Photo: Daly City web page

That was her full tweet in reply to complaints that the bike lane on Callan in Daly City was regularly obstructed by trash cans. Of course, it’s not okay, and if the cans were placed in the general-purpose lane, you can be sure they would be removed, as “Bayview Cyclist” points out in this reply:

Here’s what 21211 says: “(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.”

“It’s unfortunate that not everyone understands the law and the importance of keeping the bike lanes clear,” said Emma Shlaes, Policy Manager for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Shlaes says it’s as much a problem of poor street design, meaning that specific areas should be carved out for garbage collection so that homeowners don’t make this mistake. “I hope Daly City takes this as a lesson that we need to make the streets open and available and safe for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Republic Services, which does garbage collection for Daly City, has clear instructions for homeowners on its website: “Set your carts at the curbside.” Streetsblog has a message out with them to try and determine if their truck drivers set the cans back down at curbside, or put them back on the bike lane if that’s where they found them; we’ll update this post accordingly.

UPDATE: A representative from Republic (he requested we not publish his name) called back and said their truck drivers should not be putting trash cans back in the bike lane, even if that’s where they found them. “One of my drivers isn’t following proper procedure … I’ll have a talk with the driver who services Callan and I’ll follow up.”

Streetsblog also left a message with Daly City’s Traffic Division officer, Sergeant Sheikh Hussain.

Last but not least, Streetsblog left a message yesterday with Martel’s office asking for clarification about her tweet and will also update this post if she replies. But Jason Castleberry, who jumped into the exchange on Twitter, seems to have summed it up nicely:

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Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. For all their benefits, protected bike lanes can be complicated. Between maintaining barriers, keeping them clear of snow and preserving intersection visibility, it’s understandable that cities opt not to include them on […]