Street sweeping



Street sweeping

Yesterday, during a meeting at RIDOT hq, Mike Lewis (RIDOT director) explained that state roads aren’t swept during the winter for two basic reasons: (1) the equipment involved includes a water sprayer; that component freezes up in the winter, so the department basically mothballs the street sweepers between fall and spring, and (2) budget constraints mean that the workers that operate the sweepers (and mowers, etc) in the summer are operating snow removal equipment (and other winter road maintenance stuff) during the winter, so there is no staff available.  Yes, it is all about the benjamins.

RIDOT does acknowledge that winter is the time of year that cyclists most need the streets swept, due to the purposeful application of sand to the roads. Taking a step toward our needs, Director Lewis asked that we assemble a list of state roads that should receive priority for sweeping once spring comes.

Please help us with this by providing your suggestions. I’ll start with one: Allens Ave. What would you add?

This special bike lane sweeper in Copenhagen is fitted with a plow in winter for snow removal. Ah, aspirations...


  • MattM
    May 26, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Henderson Bridge, especially the approach from Waterman.

    Given how few of them there are, can't we just say "all"?

    And, along the theme of your dream, why does it have to be a "wet sweep/brushes/vacuum" system. Why not just a high power vacuum such as what many communities use for collecting leaves in the fall?

    When clearing snow: instruct the workers operating the plows to clear the streets to their full width. (eg: make 2 passes if necessary)

  • May 26, 2010 at 8:58 am

    But, but, but…

    Snowplow operators are not working 7-days a week, they work when it snows. What do they do the rest of the time?

    What exactly is "other winter road maintenance?" I don't think I have ever seen this occur.

    It is not always below freezing. For example, it is 90 right now, when does this mythical street-sweeping season that is dependent on temperatures being above freezing start exactly? June, July..?

    Maybe the fact that Providence doesn't work on it's streets and the state doesn't seem to work on it's streets in Providence leaves me jaded. Maybe the rest of the state does get street-sweeping and "winter road maintenance."

  • Labann
    May 26, 2010 at 10:36 am

    What Jef said, double. Aw… let's not be crybabies. The Miracle of May is finding a few swept streets amidst blossom debris and fragrance. Gets me pumped. Too bad, state caused floods did a fine job of washing away paving. State neglect made 75% of the bridges unsafe. So, where to start…

    If you already had a state bikenet plan, as I've been suggesting for over a decade, you'd already know the answer.

    Suffice to say, if state wants to sweep roads RIDOT has any jurisdiction over, please do. There are so few of them that support bicycling, it wouldn't take more than a day. Allens, Greenwich, Warwick avenues. Post Road below Apponaug. Centerville and West Shore Roads. Greenville Avenue. Pawtucket Avenue. Smith Street. Smarter if they simply put a bike lane on each, and then swept wherever bike lanes are.

    And so, just in time, while riding on WSBP I caught some debris, snapped 2 spokes and cracked rear hub. LBS will be glad to hear. They probably ought to sweep bike paths more often, but, like majority of roads, that belongs to cities and town.

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  • Labann
    May 27, 2010 at 4:57 am

    Not suggesting that RI bicyclists are an underserved community… they are UNSERVED. Motorists wouldn't stand for 1% of what we put up with:

    • bike lanes with cracks, craters, sand and, worse, seldom ticketed competition from motorists

    • bike paths that don't intersect parks, schools, terminals

    • bridge bans or hostile conditions (i.e., Mt Hope… can't they put in a bike-ped cable car?)

    • intersections with manifold flow (so at no point are all vehicles stopped for pedicycles to cross)

    • lack of bike parking (ever heard of racks at stations and stores?)

    • roads cut off by highways and railroads

    • shoulders (basically all that's left of usable bike lanes) that suddenly disappear

    • traffic controls that don't ever trip for bikes

    If motorists had to endure such horrible conditions, they'd give up driving altogether. But thousands of miles of highways not only hurry them along but remove any impediment from bicyclists and walkers. Willing to grant them that as long as pedicyclists get parallel accommodations.

    Might as well say, "You are FREE to move about your neighborhood, but you better stay there unless you motor out." I'd call that oppressive and unconstitutional. State better get its act together or risk lawsuits or velorution.

    It SHOULD be easier to ride a bike than drive. Why not scores of small bike-ped bridges across AMTRAK and over highways and rivers, "bee-lines" instead of "bulges" in routes? Consider the fact that there are only two (apart from actual bike paths) as intentional. It's how they marginalize low revenue yet sustainable self propulsion.

    You know what would be good? A bridge from Wellington Avenue to end of Jefferson Blvd. It would eliminate a 3 mile detour. There used to be a bridge from Norwood's Pettasconsett Avenue to Jefferson Blvd, but big bully AMTRAK decided it wasn't worth maintaining.

    RIDOT swore there'd be a bike lane on Lambert Lind (Route 5) through to Greenwich Avenue and Apponaug. Never happened. Instead, they widened lanes at the expense of shoulders, as usual. I'm ripping mad about it. This was the only bikeable route through state's biggest city. I'm still using it, because East Avenue, Post Road, Rt. 2, and Warwick Avenue are too gruesome. Greenwich Avenue has so little traffic it doesn't warrant 4 lanes. And they are restriping around Warwick Mall after flood repairs and, of course, I don't see any bike lanes. You'd think since WSBP was installed over a decade ago that a bike lane might have appeared to link it to Pontiac Avenue and Rt 5. Then there's Johnston… practically all of it unbikeable. Unbelievable!

    Well, cool overcast. Since nobody reads this anyway, going out to ride instead.

  • Dennis
    May 28, 2010 at 7:00 am

    This one got to me.

    Canal Street at Steeple. That's where I got into a bad position, applied brakes and slid. Luck was with me and I didn't go under a car, just bounced off it. A few scrapes, a nice gash and I live to ride another day.

    If I had slid under the car and been run over would the lack of street sweeping even been cited? Likely not. And I think that if the amount of sand that sits in my travel lane was out in the Drivers' travel lane there would be screaming.

    The sand and gravel makes the recreational rides not so much fun, but for commuters its another daily hazard.

    Now explain to me why winter sand is on the roads in June.