Strange Street Cleaning Facts in NYC

Did you know that New York City spends close to 16 million dollars each year cleaning close to 47,400 scheduled routes across 6,000 miles of road. That’s the equivalent of sweeping from New York City to Los Angeles and back, everyday.

Cleaning our city’s curbs remains an essential service and a daunting task. Not only is street sweeping expensive, it’s also a huge hassle. Every day, countless New York car rental travelers are forced to rush from their homes, hotels, and businesses in order to move their cars from the right side of the street to the left in order to left the sweeping machine by. This ritual of alternate side parking, which is enforced by hefty fines and superglued fluorescent window stickers, causes thousands of commuters grief everyday, and for what benefit?

If this is your first time visiting the Big Apple in a New York car rental, now’s the time to read up on New York City’s street sweeping schedule, before you find yourself being swept away.

How Do I Know if a Street is Scheduled to be Swept?

New York car rental customers can easily tell what streets are scheduled to be swept in the Big Apple. These areas are marked by Alternate Street Side Parking signs. These signs are clearly marked with a “P” symbol with a broom through it. Some signs display the traditional 3-hour sweeping period (between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.). However, if you notice signs with shorter timespans, don’t ignore them. In order to improve street sweeping efficiency in NYC, the City has begun to institute shorter 90 minute sweeping periods.

New York car rental travelers will also find some metered parking zones marked with alternate side parking rules. Travelers are encouraged to review the alternate side parking calendar for more information on parking schedules and and suspensions.

It’s worth noting that limited access roadways are swept as little as once a year; even then, some roads within the five boroughs aren’t swept at all.

Is Sweeping Really That Important?

Many critics of New York City’s complicated street sweeping schedule argue that much of the city’s roadways could be kept clean with a weekly or monthly brush rather than daily treatments. Benefits of fewer sweepings would include lessening traffic and reduced pollution and carbon emissions.

Of course, rolling out a new street sweeping plan would require more effective sweeping practices. Consider the following: according to a recent NY Times article, in order to deliver a quality sweep, mechanical cleaners need a number of basic components: well-maintained broms, a trained driver, and water.

If you’re a New York car rental traveler who’s not familiar with street sweepers, here’s a quick lesson. The most efficient mechanical cleaners have functioning water nozzles that are used to mist the pavement and keep dust to a minimum. The sweepers then follow along after, pushing the dirt and garbage onto internal conveyor belts. Nearly a third of New York City’s street sweeper fleet consists of next generation mechanical cleaners. These machines are equipped with environmental standards and are extremely effective at removing both large and small items from city roadways.

Unfortunately, many New York car rental travelers have noticed that these advanced sweepers don’t always operate the way they’re suppose to. More often than not, these sweepers appear to be running with empty water tanks, kicking up plumes of dust and covering New York car rental vehicles in a film of filth.

There’s also a long standing argument that street sweeping causes people to drive their cars unnecessarily. A recent study out of New York University shows that in neighborhoods where on-street parking is scarce, motorists are more likely to drive than use mass transit, especially on days when they have to move vehicles for sweeping. An average increase of 7.1 percent in car usage occurred on cleaning days.

So, what’s the solution?

While it’s hard to imagine NYC without the constant hum of street sweepers, some neighborhoods have done away with this big city staple. New York rental car travelers will find street sweeping suspended indefinitely in parts of Staten Island and Queens. In these neighborhoods, the law obliges property owners to maintain the curb along their property line 18 inches into the street. In exchange for a little elbow grease, New York car rental travelers will enjoy looser parking regulations in these areas, which is something we can all appreciate.

The Department of Transportation announced earlier this summer that it will be suspending alternate-side parking rules in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace, and the Greenwood Heights neighborhoods. This is part of a cleanliness crackdown that will restrict sweepings in areas that have consistently scored high on city’s Office of Operations street cleaning scorecards.

Street cleaning is a normal part of New York City life. Remember to look for the signs and abide by posted regulations when driving your New York car rental.


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