Thursday, July 9, 2009

Street Cleaning Progress?

posted by Elizabeth Fama

Signs of progress are appearing in Hyde Park...or at least in strategic spots on campus.

Ever since my year-long stint in Los Angeles, where these signs are the norm, I've wondered why the City of Chicago still sends Streets and Sanitation workers out to hang cardboard street-cleaning signs by hand. It can't be efficient. First, there are the man-hours involved in putting up and taking down the temporary signs (don't get me started on the workers who do this job by car, with the engine idling). Second, many car owners don't see the signs in time to move their cars. Third, on street-cleaning days parking is unavailable for six hours (9AM - 3PM), although it takes approximately 2 minutes for the machine to clean any given block.

The above signs solve these problems, and possibly two more: people will be less inclined to abandon their cars (operable or inoperable) for months at a time in one spot, and folks going on vacation will know to have a friend move their car.

As far as I can tell, the signs are so far only installed on heavily-parked streets (Drexel, Ellis, and Woodlawn roughly between 55th and 59th Streets), where having a mere 2-hour moratorium on parking every month, on a predictable day, will help to ease parking woes for University visitors and employees.

But I'd like to have them on my block, too.


Anonymous said...

As with many things, it may be tied to budget.

Metal street signs are initially expensive, yet only need to be replaced every 10 years (maybe) or if they're knocked over.

Cardboard signs are cheaper up front, yet when those printing costs add up, not to mention the gas used to drive around and hang the signs, they end up costing MUCH more than the metal signs.

Streets and san probably only has a certain amount each year allowable towards metal signs and some of that has to go towards replacing signs knocked down by cars/buses or stolen by teenagers. They don't have enough money at one time to put up new metal signs.

Richard Gill said...

Yeah, but now the City won't collect as many towing fees.

EJH said...

When I moved to Rogers Park in 2006, they had metal signs. When spring 07 rolled around, all the metal signs were suddenly gone, replaced with cardboard signs. The # of parking tickets visible on cars in my neighborhood increased dramatically. And when I lived at 51st & Cottage Grove, they often would not have street cleaning signs posted until after 8 am on the day when the street cleaning took place (those tickets can easily be contested). In Edgewater, where I live now, the street cleaning signs ALWAYS go up 2 days in advance - so that one side of my one-way street will have signs posted on Monday for Wednesday cleaning, and on the other side of the street, signs will appear on Tuesday for Thursday cleaning. You'd think they could at least do both sides at once, and save some man-hours (and gas) . . .

Gretchen said...

I'm so glad to see Hyde Park/Chicago starting to do this! It's been the norm in St. Louis for many many years, and it seems to work beautifully.

I do wonder about the hit they're going to take in parking ticket revenue though - that doesn't seem like something the city would be willing to give up.

edj said...

I hate to throw coldd water on these signs like it's a burning nush, but I remember living in uptown in the last century when they started using these signs. The 2nd Tuesday of the month may seem like a good way to do it, but people always forget what the second Tuesday is, particulalrly when the first Tuesday is the first of the month. There were always a lot of cars on the street and the streets never really got swept well after that.

Of course the city made more revenue. I say make it an every Tuesday sign and that'll work. Keep them valid during the winter so that plows can clear the streets better.

Elizabeth Fama said...

In L.A. the signs worked well. Maybe people get better and better at remembering the date over time. I have a writer's group meeting on the 2nd Friday of every month, and now it's second nature for me to remember it (I had to mark it in advance on the calendar for the first year or so).

In any event, the signs might work better on streets like Woodlawn, where most people are parking for the day. They'll read the sign as they're parking.

edj said...

I like the weekly for the winter plowing needs mostly. I think it would solve a major problem with all of that built up ice on the streets.

Benoit said...

The street cleaning schedule is online (a newish development, post 2006 anyway), so for the vacationer, you can know ahead of time whether to budget $50 for a parking ticket. But indeed, I long for the metal street cleaning signs that are ubiquitous across the continent.