One of the important duties of a city's
Department of Public Works
is to maintain the cleanliness
of city streets
. In most U.S. (and some European) cities, this involves
a detailed schedule which covers both sides of
every street in the city. At the specified hour,
a steet cleaning machine
(sometimes called a
) sweeps and vacuums up refuse
and sometimes lays down a disinfectant
solution as it passes.
Cleaning a city's streets is Herculean task: take the moderately sized
city of Cambridge, MA: 925 curb miles are cleaned each month (excluding winter),
collecting, over the course of a year, 5,000 tons of garbage. If your city
looks clean, at least part of the credit is due to the DPW for its work
Aside from the benefits of cleanliness, street cleaning affects us in two ways:
Source for City of Cambridge stats: http://www.ci.cambridge.ma.us/~TheWorks/streetcleaning.html
- A moment's joy whenever we see one of the ridiculous oversized Zamboni-like
contraptions sweeping up plastic bags from the street, clumsily rounding a corner.
- The persistent, maddening irritation of having to move your car. In Brooklyn,
as in most of New York City, each side of every street is cleaned twice a week.
In our neighborhood one side is cleaned Monday and Thursday, the other side is cleaned
Tuesday and Friday. We don't use
the car that often, but thanks to the zeal of the street
cleaners, we need to move the car at least four times a week. Of couse, if we
wait too long, the "safe" side of the street may be taken, and we may have to park
half a mile away. Somehow the city still looks like a dump. Sigh.