By Scott Etkin
A new addition to the West 60s is making the neighborhood less hospitable to those four-legged, scurrying scavengers who usually make a meal of our leftovers.
The Lincoln Square Business Improvement District (BID), a nonprofit spanning W. 71st Street to W. 58th Street along Broadway, is using specialized bins to store garbage bags that are normally piled up for collection on the sidewalk. The initiative is part of the New York City Department of Sanitation’s “Clean Curbs” pilot program, which was launched by Mayor Eric Adams this past April.
“Mountains of black trash bags have long been an eyesore on New York City sidewalks, and Clean Curbs is an effort to eliminate those mountains and give sidewalk space back to New York City residents,” Vincent Gragnani, press secretary at DSNY, wrote in a statement to WSR.
This strategy, known officially as “containerized waste” (i.e., putting trash in a box), is the first line of defense in the city’s fight against the dreaded R word. “Clean Curbs gives rats fewer opportunities to feed and will take back our streetscape,” Gragnani wrote.
The Lincoln Square BID purchased two sets of five bins for two locations on the east and west sides of Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Streets. The bins are filled by the BID’s Clean Team, a maintenance crew that has 10 members working on any given day. DSNY trucks pick up the garbage on average twice per day.
“I’m a sanitation junkie,” said Monica Blum, president of the Lincoln Square BID. “I’m the type of person who goes nuts if our beautiful flower beds have one piece of litter in them.”
Since their debut in mid-October, the bins have elicited little reaction from the public, according to Blum. The bins are dark brown, about waist high, and have five sections, each secured with a padlock. There are small holes for liquid to drain out. Across both sites, the bins can all together hold approximately 40 bags of garbage.
Lincoln Square is among the first neighborhoods – along with Brooklyn Heights, Brownsville, Stapleton, Times Square and Union Square – to participate in the Clean Curbs pilot. The application process was easy, Blum said. “The hardest part was getting siting approval from the Department of Transportation,” which mandates that the bins are off the sidewalk, but not interfering with any standing zones, fire hydrants, etc. The BID was reimbursed for the cost of the bins ($13,000), and they spent another $5,000 implementing the program, she said.
The BID opted to go with bins that are smaller and darker, after seeing how dirty the lighter-colored ones could get. “I think for us it’s much better to have small ones, because they’re just less imposing. They fit in less than a parking space,” said Blum. “I think they’re cute.”
Lincoln Square BID signed a two-year maintenance agreement with DSNY, and there are a few other locations in the neighborhood that the BID would like to use bins if the City expands the program. “We have been clear that if containerization were easy, it would have been done by now. It isn’t, but we are committed to moving forward with expansion,” wrote Gragnani.
“Bottom line is there are no bags on the corners anymore,” Blum said. “So it’s great!”
Hope it works! Good going LS BID.
These are great. This is what Europe has.
These are great, I hope the city installs them citywide as soon as possible.
Call me a cynic, but I see rats queuing up for a sweet draught.
As long as liquid drains out, the rats will congregate underneath the thing.
$5,000 seems fair to not walk through a mountain of trash in front of my home… theoretically can we apply for one to be installed on the street in front of our coop in the middle of 92nd and Amsterdam/Bway?
The key is “ DSNY trucks pick up the garbage on average twice per day. “
IF that were the norm for residential garbage then yes, this could work.
But the norm is three times a week. So you’d need a lot more bins and the streetscape would look awful.
In fact if residential garbage could be collected daily you’d never have mountains of trash to begin with.
In theory this is a good idea but why are they in the street taking up space instead of on the sidewalk? I don’t own a car but I know that so many parking spaces have already been lost — to bike lanes, concrete dividers that separate bike lanes from regular lanes, turning lanes, bus lanes, etc. — which means that cars and trucks often have to double park, and avenues that used to be four lanes are down to one. The result is even worse traffic. This bin may only be taking up one spot, but in order for these bins to be effective, there have to be a lot of them, and far more than one parking space will be lost.
Sidewalks are more important than parking spaces. You have a private car, park it in a private lot.
Also, maybe it’s better for the bins to be closer to the trucks to make it easier to unload them? Plus, even if they were on the sidewalk, you couldn’t park a car in front of them, as the workers need to access them from the street. Not sure, but glad they are trying something to address the rat problem.
Worth noting that the City has not hesitated to place Citibike racks in places that block Sanitation Department workers from easily accessing trash bags and bins.
The City did not care that placement of many Citibike racks make it much harder for Sanitation workers
best example is the citibike stand city put on the garbage loading area for the Beresford on 82nd st, just west of CPW
Noted. I once tried to walk through those racks and even without bikes (or a few handfuls of full trash bags) it’s impossible! I hadn’t noticed that any blocked trash cans bit will keep an eye out…seems pretty silly, but I guess there are competing priorities. Sanitation work is hard and dangerous… I am with you 100% that there shouldn’t be anything that makes it harder.
Parked cars block access to basically every trash bag stored on the sidewalk.
During trash collection hours, cars are not supposed to be parked, therefore allowing DSNY access to pick up trash bags.
However, Citibike stations are fixed and therefore more difficult for DSNY to reach over and haul heavy bags.
Alternate side parking is for street cleaning, not for trash collection.
DSNY misses our building’s pickups often, because they can’t see the curbside bags through the parked cars blocking their view of the bags.
Whether they are supposed to or not, every garbage pick up team I’ve ever seen has been forced to work around tightly packed park cars. If the city actually started enforcing these rules you might have a point. (Is it even a rule though? How are garbage pick up hours defined? I’ve never seen a sign mentioning it defining this rule.)
There’s a way to have containerized waste storage without sacrificing parking. We’ve already sacrificed parking for citibike, bike lanes, outdoor dining, private carshare companies which many middle class people with families won’t use. This is all happening while transit service is getting worse in the outer boroughs and you’re dealing with an MTA and NJT that doesn’t care about the riding public. Urbanists pushing for “livable streets” want “livable streets” for THEM and to exclude people who aren’t like them from their neighborhoods. This is what the end result will be when it becomes a bigger pain to drive a car and transit doesn’t meaningfully improve even with congestion pricing, which as of now will not given their plans with the borough bus redesigns.
A 2/3rds super majority of Upper West Siders don’t own cars. Repurposing space from parking to other uses like cleaner streets benefits the majority of people who live here. https://www.westsiderag.com/2022/07/06/the-bumpy-road-to-electric-vehicle-ownership-on-the-upper-west-side
Even if a supermajority of UWS residents don’t own cars, the people that do are a part of this community and have needs the transit system cannot take care of. You also have people from outside the community that drive because transit doesn’t work for them. The UWS isn’t midtown and the 1/2/3 trains don’t go everywhere. Not only that, the same anti-car folks are okay with borough bus redesigns which cut service and make accessing transit harder. The end game is making Manhattan an exclusionary zone where the only people who live here can work here and have access to the benefits of Manhattan. Manhattan needs its suburbs and outer boroughs.
Adam, You are very wrong about the “anti-car folks” which includes me. I spend much time with these folks and 100% of the people I know are for MORE mass transit of all types.
Do you have any “anti-car” advocacy groups you support in our neighborhood? Would love to see more pedestrian access. Thanks!
I think you’re afraid of something that isn’t even close to happening. Right now every single block on the UWS has the majority of curb space dedicated to free parking. Even with all the bike lanes, Citibike stations, dining sheds, and garbage collection boxes, there isn’t a single block anywhere in the neighborhood with less than 50% of its curb space used for parking. People will always be able to access the neighborhood by car if they need to, but at the margin we should start to rebalance our curb space to reflect the reality of how people here actually live. The majority of people don’t have cars – there should be at least one street in ten that puts their needs first.
We already have blocks with less than 50% of its curb space used for parking, just go to the east side of Central Park West from 59th to 110th Street.
What’s across the street on the other 50% of Central Park West? Parking.
2/3rds of people who live here don’t own cars and we don’t have a single street from 59th to 110th where we put the needs of the majority first.
Even so, the UWS is part of the largest metropolitan areas in the country which includes parts of 4 states (NY, NJ, CT and PA). Tell that to someone who lives in a transit desert and would have to make multiple transfers (including to trains that only run every 60-120 minutes) if they didn’t have a car. Or the people that would have to find work elsewhere or move if they didn’t have relatively easier access to parking. The majority may not own a car, but for this neighborhood to thrive, the majority needs people who drive cars. Also the majority of those who don’t own a car don’t care enough to spite car drivers the way urbanists do. All this stuff that urbanists are pushing are all “nice to haves” but aren’t “MUST haves”.
Robert, that is misleading. A calculation of curb space for CPW should include both the W and E sides. Unlike nearly every other UWS block, CPW has no competition from buildings across the street, so effectively has/had twice as much parking as most other streets. Yes CPW lost some parking to citibikes but it is not 50% of both east and west sides. And CPW has some bike stations on the sidewalk, unlike many blocks.
The UWS isn’t midtown and many people from outside the area work, own a business and or access the neighborhood for various reasons. Parking is already hard, no need to make it harder. MTA also is planning on cutting service between the outer boroughs and Manhattan. NJT isn’t great and people cannot deal with multiple transfers on a daily basis. This isn’t midtown.
The Upper West Side is served by five subway lines at 14 different subway stations. It is “not Midtown” but it’s not Westchester – its probably the most transit accessible residential neighborhood in the entire country. If we can’t design our curbs for people first and cars second on the UWS where can we do it? If we want this to continue to be a neighborhood people where want to work, live in and visit then we need to get the bags of trash that feed our enormous rat population off our sidewalks.
Yes it has been shocking to see that the City is willing to sacrifice mass transit- hurt bus riders, worsen bus transit by allowing street closures aka “open streets” that force bus diversion.
Incredibly City just announced Fifth Ave closures on Sundays in December – thus no bus.
It isn’t shocking. Elected officials and even the astroturf advocacy groups like Riders Alliance don’t want real accountability on transit. They think they know what’s best for the riding public and we should put up and shut up. If you’ve been in the room with upper management at MTA like I have, you understand that street parking is a very important safety valve and leverage against bad transit policy and lack of accountability. Think about it, if you cut service from elsewhere and there’s a threat that people will switch to their cars, but if you remove parking and cut transit service like what’s going on now, that leaves people outside of Manhattan with less leverage and forces them instead to seek jobs elsewhere because dealing with overcrowded and delayed subways and making multiple transfers gets tiring after a while.
mst, that’s misleading because it’s incomplete. Fifth Ave will be closed just from 49th-57th (8 blocks!), specifically 12pm-6pm (not the morning or evening). The M1 + M4 + Q32 are already not stopping at 5th Ave & 49th St, and the M2 and M3 are not stopping at 5th Ave & 50th St, every day from 11/20/22 through 1/8/23. That leaves just 5th Ave & 50th St, 52nd St, and 56th St as being affected by the closure you’re mentioning, which is hardly an outrageous inconvenience, since 5th Ave & 59th St and 5th Ave & 46th St will both be open to bus traffic for the M1-M4, and 5th Ave & 46th and 58th St will be open for the Q32.
But if they were on the sidewalk and had a No Parking sign in front at least all the Ubers, Lyfts, and yellow cabs could pull in there for a moment to let passengers on or off. This is a large part of what makes the through traffic only have one lane at times.
Giving up a parking spot to not dodge rats, day and night, is fair. We have to put our public streets to the best use for all. This will greatly benefit all the people who actually live on that street.
Regarding public streets, I’d add that the Restaurant Street Shacks need to go.
I would respectfully disagree. I love outdoor dining but believe that we need to establish regulations.
Exchange one eyesore for another. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.
Looks great – containerization seems like low hanging fruit to get trash off the street. I’m actually surprised how small these are, there’s easily space for these to be twice as big which could keep twice the trash off the street?
The trash will still be on the street, only 24/7 instead of hours before pickup, When the trash is in the building the establishment has some reason to maintain it. Once it’s on the street (in the “bin”) it’s “someone else’s”(everyone’s) problem.
Just like NYC boasts that it is “The Greatest City in the World” us rodents are also the greatest. We’ll figure out a way to beat these “rat-proof” contraptions! AND, when we do, we’ll have nice shelters to keep us warm-n-dry while we eat, sleep, and mate.
And trash, and a slurry of dirt will collect around these new structures as they do around and under the restaurant shanties and the Citibike docks etc
How about getting rid of all the restaurant outdoor sheds and tables! Give the sidewalks back to the pedestrians and the streets back to the cars.
For transparency it should be noted that the head of the restaurant lobbying group (which participated in developing the City’s restaurant street shed plan) is on CB 7.
“RATS” (Rodents Against Trash Security) will be holding a demonstration in front of the pictured receptacle, on the west side of Broadway, over the weekend at 3 AM on Sunday. I suggest you stay away.
Lincoln Square BID is fantastic. The area they are in charge of always looks great. Contrast that with the area covered by the Columbus Ave BID — which contracts bin maintenance out the DOE fund, rather than having permanent, long-term accountable employees like Lincoln Square. Time for a change at Columbus Ave BID.
Great solution. This is the solution used in London neighborhoods. You are on a roll, please purchase more. ( two on Freedom Place. 10023 would be appreciated – advance apologies for being selfish).
Love the fact that the mayor is taking action re the profusion of rats on the Upper West Side. But, where are these rats coming from? And, are we getting rid of them at their source?
Take down the dining shantys and replace them with this type of containerized garbage system. These should also be required in front of all buildings of 10 (?) units or more to keep the plastic bags off the street.
From the picture it looks like these containers should have taller legs so the DSNY people don’t need to bend over to pull the bags out.
W/ this plan, trash is on the street longer. Then there is a huge trash bin 24/7 instead of bags for a number of hours twice a week. for instance. I wonder if more frequent pickup smaller trucks even might be a solution.? We need to reduce how much trash we produce in the first place! Online shopping has made it worse and now we have all of these delivery trucks on the road (Fedex, UPS, fleets of AMAZON trucks etc) all delivering packages that produce packaging TRASH.
Unless the bins would be emptied daily, they’d have to be many times larger than these.
“DSNY trucks pick up the garbage on average twice per day. “
That’s a great idea! There are 3 shacks on my block, and addition to being an eyesore, one of them is in total disrepair and there are dead rats laying in front of the bus stop every morning. : (
$13K for two bins , I guess even NY garbage needs to be pricey .. ridiculous …
I don’t like them being so close to the crosswalk another hazard in the road
It is the restaurant sheds that created the rat crisis. The sheds created the rat buffet and it is time for them to go. The city does not care that sanitation, the police and the fire trucks can’t make it down the closed streets known as the open street program. With the removal of parking spaces, the removal of driving lanes, the unlimited amount of for hire cars, the restaurant sheds the city has made congestion so much worse which makes it slower for all these services to get around and do their job.
Many NYC neighborhood groups and individuals seeking to end street shacks. One group is cueupny.com
That’s the whole point. They only want the “right” kind of people living here who benefit certain corporate interests and are less work for elected officials. If you can’t violate the law, and fair housing laws, to get the demographics you want, you can always manipulate the transportation network to get the demographics you want. Real estate interests (along with Uber/Lyft) donating to anti-car groups like transportation alternatives helps establish this case
most city blocks dont have BID workers that would have keys to load these boxes, right?
What about the people who collect cans and bottles for money to survive? Why would the garbage need to be locked up — rats can’t open them, even without locks. And there is so little space for pedestrians on sidewalks anymore — and now the sidewalks have to accommodate dogs and scooters and bikes….. So please don’t put them on the sidewalks. Too bad for the cars — I definitely would prefer having more oxygen to breathe. Oh well to the marijuana laws…..
This is a non-issue as they sort through recycling bags, not garbage bags. These containers are only for garbage.
I agree with the person above that the city needs to accelerate removing poorly maintained and abandoned dining sheds and replace those spots with these. No further reduction in parking and as someone pointed out, they allow car services and taxis to pull over and drop people off a bit more safely.
How do people put their garbage IN the bins?
This is not for residents/pedestrians – this is for businesses at this time, and ultimately similar (or better…) structures may be installed for residential use.
In spite of Mayor Adams new policy on garbage crack down on pick up Vs. Rats program.
I had sanitation do a test study all this week and next week in my neighborhood on W. 80th St. ….Garbage to be put out by 5 PM and picked up no later than 1 AM same day. The test study is now in progress.
Not only there had been less rats within a few days….Sanitation is reporting back that rats were actually in the garbage bags when taken away .
I raise $2000 for the next 10 pick up runs with sanitation to do this study.
I will see the results second week in December.
Already, so far so good the first week.
We already have these 4 bins on W. 80th St. Between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues in front of residential apartment buildings.
As long as they’re closed on top it seems to be working, but the rats are hiding underneath the bins which is about 3 inches where they hide. There’s no access to food but they seem to hide under them.
The bins should be sealed tight underneath where they can’t sneak in for protection from the weather elements.
What seems to be working as a study the past few weeks on W. 80th St. of garbage being put out in the early afternoon and picked up the same day before 11 PM. We’ve noticed the rats beginning to scatter during the daytime and beginning to leave the block to go to other places for food or beginning to eat each other.
Great, there should be more throughout the city. West 109th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway is the valley of rats! Bring these over!