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NYC bike lane
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These pint-sized street sweepers will clean NYC's bike lanes weekly

The new machines might lead to the creation of better bike lanes as well.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Remember the fleet of small-scale snowplows that cleared New York's bike lanes from snow last winter? Well, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has refitted them with brush attachments and the pretty small mechanical brooms will now be used to sweep the city's bike lanes of trash every week. 

According to DSNY officials, six of these sweepers were released into the wild on July 4 and four more will be added to the roster to clean our 133.5 miles of protected bike paths once a week.

"This is going to be the first time that New York City has smaller micro-operability machines that actually do the sweeping of the bike lanes, and we think that this is going to make things both cleaner for New Yorkers in general but also for the community that uses bike lanes to do their work, the deliveries, this is going to make it also much safer for them," agency Commissioner Jessica Tisch said during an official presentation of the new equipment earlier this year.

According to amNewYork, the department is currently in possession of 45 of these small vehicles (although only 10 will be equipped with the brush additions for now) and 433 full-sized sweeping trucks. According to the outlet, "they need fewer brushes than plows because DSNY has to clear lanes quicker after snowfall compared to regular sweeps of only once or twice a week." 

Until now, the Department of Transportation claimed an inability to install physical barriers on narrower bike paths because they had to be wide enough to accommodate sweepers and plows, as reported by Streetsblog a few years ago. The new machines will therefore also allow the agency to build narrower cycle paths that can't be blocked by cars. A win-win, indeed!

Check out some potential designs below:

Bike lane designs
Photograph: Department of Transportation

 It's always a good day when city officials announce their intention to make bikers' lives easier and safer. Woohoo!

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