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Thread: Mulch Piles Blocking Bike Lanes

  1. #1
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    Default Mulch Piles Blocking Bike Lanes

    Mulch deliveries have been dumped across the bike lanes on Yorktown Boulevard recently. Then, they have been allowed to sit, sometimes for over two weeks. We had a pile blocking the uphill lanes for a few weeks this summer, and one was just dumped across the downhill lane (near Brandywine) this week. The piles force you to swerve into the traffic lane in a place where most people are going well over the posted 30 MPH limit.

    Before I go all, "ready, fire, aim," on this, I wanted to put it out to the message board. I'm pretty confident someone on here knows a better approach than calling and yelling at some random Environmental Services employee, dropping a nasty, anonymous complaint at Code Enforcement, or having a (probably unproductive) confrontation with a homeowner who probably hasn't even thought about it, much.

    I thought you had something like 48 hours to get a mulch pile out of the street. I know I have gone over to the houses of friends and relatives to help them move their mulch so they could, "beat the clock." I just read the mulch agreement on the County web site, though, and I didn't see any written rules about getting the mulch out of the street in a specified time.

    Since this has now happened twice in almost the same place, it looks like more of a systemic problem. In other words, it seems like a good solution would be to have a DES supervisor say, in a general way, "this is a bike lane. If you can safely dump mulch, without blocking it, that's the way we want you to do it." A less optimal solution would be for one person to get yelled at, or fined, only to have the big picture issue forgotten, and repeated.

    Does anyone know the right person to contact about the problem?

  2. #2
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    I'll check around and see if I can find anything out for you. Is the pile still there now? Do you think you can give me an exact location/address?

  3. #3
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    I posted this, and the next day, the owner had cut a vertical slice in the pile, clearing the bike lane. It's out of the way. Those actions paint them as very conscientious people.

    The homeowner across the street left a pile across the bike lanes all summer, though. Since so much depends upon the homeowner's sense of obligation, I still think it's worth calmly raising the issue with the Dept. of Environmental Services to ask them to dump mulch closer to the curb, when it's safe. I have no idea where I developed the belief that you had a fixed window to get your mulch out of the street, but if it exists, reminding folks who order mulch about it might help, too.

    I don't want to publicly shame someone who was so cool about cutting a face into their mulch pile, but this is the general area of the recent pile, and the one that sat all through late summer.
    Last edited by RideTheWomble; 10-19-2010 at 08:34 AM. Reason: url tags were not right for forum

  4. #4
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    I won't pretend to know the county codes that may speak to this, but I will say that just this past year in Portland a homeowner paid a $50,000 settlement to a cyclist who crashed into a dirt pile that was in front of their house in the street. The crash happened at night so the cyclist didn't see it in time (he had lights) and the homeowners are cyclists themselves which likely led to the quick settlement rather than having the case go to court.

    At any rate, my point is: anything obstructing or blocking the roadway is especially more dangerous at night and city code in Portland was pretty clear on this issue. If you find the code or statute that speaks to this, I would urge you to make friendly contact with the homeowner or whomever is responsible and let them know from the point of view of the danger to road users and their own safety and well-being. If there isn't anything that speaks to this on the books, then, well, there should be so...go team advocacy!

  5. #5
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    @Senor Womblehead: I'm almost done with the snow-plow for my dummy. It should work well on mulch and leaf piles. I'll loan it to you if this problem persists.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt View Post
    @Senor Womblehead: I'm almost done with the snow-plow for my dummy. It should work well on mulch and leaf piles. I'll loan it to you if this problem persists.
    Funny you should say that. I have been sorely tempted to ride with a pitchfork or show shovel (depending on the season) in the cargo pockets, just in case I came upon a pile of snow or mulch I felt needed to be, uh, modified. I rode to the site of a recently-departed bottle of Hurricane fortified malt liquor just this weekend, with a push broom, shovel, and bucket in the pockets. My philanthropic cleaning of the bike lane was not completely altruistic, however, as the offending glass was in a spot likely to harm my beloved Schwalbe Big Apples.

    If you want to load the fat bikes up with tools and salt this winter, and hit the shady spots on the local trails, I'm in. That is, of course, if we can do it without stepping on someone's jurisdictional toes.

  7. #7
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    I had the leaf blower hooked up to the front before I tore the bike down. It wasn't perfect, but it cleared the leaves out from in front of me. Wanted to test that as a means to clear the "S of certain death" behind Lyon Village. Not sure security would let me in the building with that contraption.

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    OK, so this is definitely a zombie thread at this point, but I wanted to put this out there too, now that I'm active on the forum. In June 2012 I ran into a mulch pile at night on a bike route in Arlington that extended almost 9 feet from the curb into the street. I broke 2 fingers and had to have surgery and go through 6 months of occupational and physical therapy because of it. In the end I did not sue anyone, as the time, stress, and extra expense seemed to be not worth it for me personally at the time, but I could have. I knew the homeowner and their insurance would be on the hook because Arlington has a hold harmless clause in the mulch delivery contract, though.

    I did contact Arlington DES at the time and asked them nicely to put cones or flags in the mulch for future deliveries, and I've seen them be much more consistent about it.

    See http://bit.ly/MulchCrash for the gory details.
    Last edited by obscurerichard; 01-05-2019 at 11:00 AM.

  9. #9
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    That's awful. Your finger looked pretty gnarly after the crash and after the surgery. I hope after the long recovery there aren't any lingering issues.

    I never really considered how hazardous a mulch pile could be. In my area, they require deliveries to be made to a driveway, which makes even more sense after seeing this.

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  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbehrend View Post
    That's awful. Your finger looked pretty gnarly after the crash and after the surgery. I hope after the long recovery there aren't any lingering issues.

    I never really considered how hazardous a mulch pile could be. In my area, they require deliveries to be made to a driveway, which makes even more sense after seeing this.
    I still have a pin and a screw in my right ring finger and it is permanently skewed right and I can't fully extend that finger. I have enough mobility to type and ride a bike so I'm good overall, but I have to be careful when I shake people's hands because the wrong grip could aggravate the injury and hurt like the devil.

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