City trash collectors create garbage-can walls along Ninth Street bike lane

City trash collectors create garbage-can walls along Ninth Street bike lane
Photo by Adam White

Talk about trashy.

A Park Slope lawyer says he witnessed workers from the Department of Sanitation creating barricades out of garbage cans along the Ninth Street bike lane to protest cyclists.

Sloper Adam White noticed several walls of trash cans blocking the protected bike lane on his ride into the Prospect Park YMCA early Saturday morning.

The cyclist at first chalked the hazards up to simple negligence — until he spotted municipal trash haulers deliberately placing the cans in the lane. When he confronted them, White says one of the waste collectors went on a long rant about cyclists, who he accused of riding recklessly and wreaking havoc on city streets.

“He was going ‘you bicyclists this’ and you ‘bicyclists that,’” White said. “That’s when I realized this was an intentional act.”

White tried reasoning with the saboteurs, saying he respected them and their work, but the garbage men refused to clean up their mess.

“I literally said ‘I love you guys, why are you doing this?’ I guess they thought I was being sarcastic,” he said.

White, an attorney who represents crash victims, said he knows a thing or two about the danger cyclists face on the road, but that he’s never seen a professional driver intentionally create hazards for bikers.

“When you have professional drivers out there with that mindset it’s kind of scary,” White said. “We can’t tolerate that sort of act of deliberate hostility.”

DSNY drivers have killed two pedestrians in the past year, including Alberto Leal, a Crown Heights resident who was killed in October of last year when a sanitation driver turned the wrong way onto a one way street. Another pedestrian was killed by a DSNY salt truck driver in the Bronx in January.

The Sanitation Department has a much better driving record than the private carting industry, where workers are pushed to drive recklessly to increase profits and were involved in 67 crashes between March 2016 and April 2018, killing five people, according to a report by the Transform Don’t Trash NYC labor coalition. Cyclists have killed five pedestrians since 2014.

The Ninth Street bike lane was added in 2018, as part of traffic calming changes made to the two-way artery after a driver killed two children and sent three adults – including a pregnant woman – to the hospital.

The Sanitation Department says it is investigating the incident and may take disciplinary action, depending on its findings.

“The Department is investigating the report, and could take disciplinary action, depending on our findings,” said DSNY spokesperson Belinda Mager.

Axe to grind: White says the pictured worker went on a rant about scofflaw cyclists.
Photo by Adam White