Friday, September 16, 2011

Just Looking for a Place to Move and Be in the Public Space

Just one of those moments I felt the need to capture

First off, as a cyclist, I confirm that I have a monster man crush on sweepers and sweeper operators. They work their tails off in this neck of the woods, and generally leave the streets I ride on remarkably clean. Seriously, even when there's construction and home remodeling going on, these streets are looking good. And, I consider myself something of a sweeper spotter. In fact, I love this picture so much I'll just go ahead and post it again before continuing:

Sweepers: a proud product of our industrial civilization

But, when I noticed the woman walking her dogs in the bike lane pedestrian right of way, with the sweeper approaching, I had a hunch that a photo op was in the making. I had full confidence in the courtesy and professionalism of the sweeper operators, and indeed, the impending sweeping up of a woman and two dogs was deftly averted:

Wait! OMG they sucked up one of her dogs! Goldie!

No problemo. But still, check it out: where else is she gonna walk? Nowhere, of course, this is her space to take in the morning air while walking the dogs, or perhaps from this point forward, the dog. I don't think it would be reasonable, or for that matter even in their nature, for the sweeper operators to be leaning out the window cursing at the woman walking her dog(s) there. Even though she was in one manner of looking at it, in their way. If the Quality of Street Sweeping Regional Director happens to make a spot check in this zone later on, surely he will note a swerve, a dirty spot, an area of non-swept dust and broken glass. Grrrr, the sweeper operators might say, a ding on our Weekly Sweeper Quality Review report. No. 

The way I look at it, she just wants a place to be, and move, in the public space. Like me. Like you. On her own street (guessing here), in her own neighborhood (also guessing). 

It's my personal policy when I'm riding my bicycle to do exactly what the sweeper operators did, except I don't make as much dust or make golden dogs vanish. But I do merge out into the lane and make sure the pedestrians have full use of the bike lane without some crazy bicycle commuter guy swooshing by them at like, really fast speed, early in the morning. And I don't care if it slows me down, or makes me four seconds late to work, or breaks my perfect line of progress. In fact, I've been known to bid a hearty and merry GOOD MORNING while waving and passing by. And look: this mode of interaction is happy, civilized, and yields good moods all around. It makes that cup of coffee, double-glazed donut, or bowl of high fiber cereal that's coming up soon taste all that much better. Hell, I'll even acknowledge that she should be able to do what's she's doing wearing headphones with the Liquid Metal satellite channel blasting in her ears if that's her thing, without concern for any other road user-sharer, whether cyclist, motor vehicle, electric cooler scooter or electric humvee golf cart, or road maintenance machine, causing her much grief. You might suggest that a nice park could be more conducive to a peaceful stroll with the dawg(s), but as I assumed this is her neighborhood, I wish her well and hope she walks in peace. I hope she finds a place to move and be in the public spaces of her own neighborhood. And I hope she gets her dog back.



  1. Haha, a street sweeper was seeming to follow me every ware I went the other day on the bike way.

  2. Now you got me thinking.
    I wonder where they go to empty them street sweepers?
    Is there like a really humungous bag in there? like a vacuum cleaner?
    What becomes of the dog when he pops out the street sweeper?
    Does the street sweeper give him back or does he become a street sweeper mascot?
    How many dogs are in street sweeperland?
    Too many questions too early in the morning.

  3. Definitely an interesting interaction. If that dog is anything like mine, he's cowering in fear somewhere because sweepers are noisy.

    Seems perfectly fine for her to be in the bike like there. Makes sense. I'm not sure the legality of such things, now that I think of it, but I certainly wouldn't begrudge her the space, either.

  4. I have no problem with pedestrians walking in the road particularly in this case. However according to AZ statute 28-796B pedestrians in the road are supposed to walk on the left side against traffic. In my experience this is safest as pedestrians can see cars, cyclists, and street sweepers coming.

  5. Thanks, Justus Robert Gunther, I learned something new today, making it a good day.

    quoting, 28-796
    B. If sidewalks are not provided, a pedestrian walking along and on a highway shall walk when practicable only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction.


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