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:

  • mx

    Perhaps a protest is in order. Everyone can bring their trash cans to the City Manager’s office and see whether “in an urban environment,” Martel enjoys sharing her office hallway with waste cans.

  • thielges

    San Jose is a little better but not by much. CSJ does agree that trash cans should not be in the bike lane though does not directly enforce violations. Instead you’re directed to report the problem to the office that handles trash/recycling. And that office does not care at all that the cans might be blocking the bike lane. All they care about is whether or not the cans are in the street too early (24 hours before pick up day). As a result there’s no enforcement of trash cans in the bike lane so long as it is pick up day or the day before.

    A real solution is to directly enforce CVC 21211. While that requires attention from staff or the PD, enforcement would be like shooting fish in a barrel on some streets where trash cans are chronically placed in the bike lane. Issue non fine courtesy notices initially and I’d bet that residents will quickly fall into compliance.

  • Yannis Cosmadopoulos

    This is an ongoing problem. Every Monday this bicycling commute route is like this. Here is a video of what commuting using this bike lane is like.

  • Chris J.

    Are bicyclists allowed to legally push the cans out of the way so the bike lane is no longer obstructed? Maybe that would cause offenders and / or authorities to take notice.

  • thielges

    I’m not sure on the legality though that is what I do in dangerous situations when I have time. And not just garbage cans. I often kick rocks and branches blocking the bike lane to the curb.

  • Peter Colijn

    I ride this route almost daily, _except_ Mondays, to avoid precisely this problem. It’s been like this for years 🙁

  • I see a solution. Take time to dismount from your bike, walk along and simply move the garbage cans back , near the curb, against the curb. Be nice, leave room for the parked cars to pull out. Simple solution, if someone could take ten minutes of early AM time to do that task. There’s No reason for the cans to be that far out from the curb. I’ve seen lots of garbage cans in my lifetime, and they are *normally* placed nearer to the curb.

  • murphstahoe
  • murphstahoe

    On that section of Callan that would probably be 100 sets of trash cans, each 10-20 feet apart. It would take an hour.

  • murphstahoe

    See the photo I posted above.

  • Rogue Cyclist

    Or take out the center turn lane and create trash can lanes.

  • Vooch

    or place the cans in the motor lane creating a PBL

  • Drew Levitt

    Whose job is it to ensure the cans are placed out of the path of traffic? Is it the responsibility of the homeowners, who put them out on the curb (or, apparently, in the bike lane)? Is it the responsibility of the trash collection employees, who retrieve the cans and then replace them on the curb (or, apparently, in the bike lane)? Or is it the responsibility of some random person on a bike who happens to be trying to safely and comfortably travel along this street? Who thinks option 3 is reasonable?

  • Penchant

    They have to go somewhere. So either they block the sidewalk OR they block a bike lane OR they block a traffic lane OR they block parking.

    Or they can do what SF optionally does. Give the trash guys a key and they come into your house and drag out the bins. Costs more though . .

  • thielges

    It is clearly the responsibility of the homeowner/resident to place the cans in the proper location and out of a traffic lane. The problem is that there is very little enforcement.

    Enforcement would be entirely different if cans were placed in the main automobile lane.

  • Drew Levitt

    OR they can go on the sidewalk, adjacent to the curb, and not block anything. I measure six foot sidewalks along Callan, and these bins are scarcely more than two feet wide. That’s plenty of room.

    I live in Oakland and we all put our bins on the edge of the sidewalk, and then the garbage collectors put them back there. This isn’t rocket science; it’s just extreme laziness.

  • Drew Levitt

    Obviously the solution is to drag the bins slightly farther to the left and use them to construct Daly City’s first protected bike lane. /s

  • Penchant

    Yeah, it depends on the width of the sidewalk. There are a couple of sidewalks near me that are narrow, and on trash day I end up walking out into the street to get around them. Annoying, but it’s only once a week.

  • Dave Campbell

    Castro Valley in Alameda County has the same problem and Public Works does not stop it

  • Stuart

    You’re trying to convince RichLL (you’re replying to one of his many accounts) that routinely blocking a bike lane isn’t a totally reasonable thing to do. Good luck with that.

  • Trash cans should never be on the sidewalk, ever. Better the bike lane than the sidewalk, but the best location is the parking lane. Where residents have driveways, they should be placed in front of the driveway, so that they are only blocking the owner of the trash cans, not the public parking area. In areas without driveways, then the parking lane.

  • John Murphy

    Like the people living on Callan ever use the sidewalks at 8 AM on a Monday.

  • HappyHighwayman

    If I lived in Daly City I would knock over each and every can in the bike lane or just shove them further into the street. Without hesitation.

  • City Resident

    When the sidewalk is blocked, this can be a major impairment for wheelchair users and people with vision impairment – sometimes resulting in lengthy and unsafe detours.

  • Miles Bader

    Trash cans should never be on the sidewalk, ever.

    Around here there are some crazy wide (like, 5-6m) sidewalks…. while I’m 100% a pedestrian (no driver’s license, no bicycle), I don’t particularly mind people putting stuff on the edge of these sidewalks when they have some reason to. [Also there is no street parking here, so no “parking lane.”]

  • Drew Levitt

    Interestingly, the user name of the person replying to me has changed – as in, the comments remain, but the name has changed – in this very thread! As of 9/7, “Penchant” is now “GregKamin.”

    I’ve never had much of a problem with Rich, but that seems… sneaky.

  • Stuart

    He’s using a bunch of accounts, and has repeatedly changed the name of many of them (including renaming several of them to match the names of people who have called out his multi-accounting, like me). Several times recently he’s posted a comment with one account, then agreed with it using another one.

    The level of trollish behavior he’s exhibiting here has definitely escalated.



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