Motivated in part by the bicycle traffic death of a Myers Park student last year, Charlotte City Council updated an ordinance recently that stipulates where residents can put roll-out bins.
Per the revision, residents must place roll-out containers at ground level and within 6 feet of the curb. The containers can’t be in or on the roadway and not on the sidewalk.
The containers also have to be at least 3 feet away from each other as well as other obstacles like mailboxes, telephone poles, automobiles and other items. The city's Solid Waste Services department is responsible for garbage, recycling and yard waste at 210,000 single-family households.
“A customer should use reasonable care and caution when placing a rollout container along the curb and should avoid interfering with the access to or denying the use of a sidewalk by others,” the ordinance reads in part.
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The updated ordinance is part of a larger movement within the city to keep sidewalks unobstructed and safe.
In May 2012, Myers Park freshman Andrew Wright was fatally struck while riding his bicycle along Sharon Lane.
Wright had missed his bus and opted to ride his bicycle for the 5-mile ride to the high school.
About halfway into the trip, Andrew tried to weave around rollout trash bins on a Sharon Lane sidewalk, but he lost control and his bike clipped a bin.
Andrew was flung into the road just as a tractor-trailer came by. The impact killed him.
The 29-year-old man who was driving the U.S. Foods tractor-trailer that hit Andrew about 6:45 a.m. that day was not charged.
Investigators called the incident an accident.
“That incident definitely helped underscore the importance of keeping sidewalks clean and clear,” said Kim McMillan, a spokeswoman for the city of Charlotte. “Anything we can do to prevent a future situation or unfortunate circumstance like that, we will do.”
In June, city council referred to the environmental committee to study sidewalk obstructions. By January, the city had launched a public awareness campaign for sidewalk safety.
As part of that larger effort that began in February, the city’s campaign also seeks to educate residents on common obstruction violations, pedestrian safety and yard debris.
McMillan said the city wants residents to “perceive the sidewalk differently.”
The city of Charlotte isn’t the only Mecklenburg County community to specify where residents can put roll-out bins.
In Matthews, residents are advised not to block their driveways or storm drains.
The town also tells residents to make sure the wheels of the bin are facing the house so as not to interfere with the pick-up truck’s mechanical arm, said town spokeswoman Annette Privette Keller.
But the towns of Mint Hill and Pineville have no ordinances about roll-out bin placement, spokeswomen with the towns said.
Jessica Lawrence, a spokeswoman with CMPD, said in a statement that the department supports the new ordinance.
“The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department is always in support of changes that preserve the safety of our community,” she said.