Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Street sweepers suck!

Welcome to another lesson in suckology! Today's topic is Manic Street Sweepers from Hell (or Bucharest).
When the weather is good I go to the office by bike. Yeah, I am a hot shot biker. My bicycle is state of the art junk and I can ride it even through major Bucharest street holes. Ok, I am being a bit unfair, as they are rebuilding all the streets now... So let me rephrase it: I can ride it even through destroyed streets that are in the process of being rebuilt.
When I first bought my bike it had no wheel protectors and I quickly realised that driving through wet or muddy terrain tended to leave a long straight line of wet dirt from my trousers bottom to the top of my head. So I bought these metal things that protect my wheels and myself from things like that. Now I can even go through moderate puddles and I only wet the bottom of my pants legs. Which is ok, I am tech guy, I'm married, I don't really need to look good. You did sense the irony there, right?
So everything was set for riding my bike. I could even hear the Queen song while going to work. To my immediate surprise I found the streets were wet! Not only in the morning, when I go to work, but also in the evening when I return. The culprits seem to be [echo]Street Sweepers!

Ok, a small technical paranthesis. All this is done to protect the mighty citizen from dust. Or so they say, actually, this is more of a EU directive or standard and, as we Romanians love to brown our noses, the City Hall felt compelled to comply. Street sweeping, in theory, should be done to clean the street of debris (by using machines with brooms) which also employ some system to keep the dust from rising up while brooming. Most employ water, the most advanced use vacuum generation and filtration.

Well, Romanians decided to split this process into two separate parts: one machine wets the street, the other sweeps. Even better, while one wets one street, the other sweeps another. The result is dry sweeping that generates immense quantities of air borne dust and wet pavement. As you might not be familiar with Romanian technology, let me explain to you what these street wetters looks like: big water containers with sprinklers. And not your average street wetter sprinkler system with a row of small water sprays, but one big water pipe with holes in it!
What this does is create huge puddles of water in the crossroads, where the trucks stop, but the drivers are too lazy/stupid to also stop the sprinkler system. Also the roads are far from flat, so in all the little depressions in the asphalt other puddles occur.

Well, how does this affect me and why these abominations suck? Let's take them one at a time:

  • water makes my bike skid on the pavement. While this might be acceptable in other countries, with flat roads, maybe even with bicycle lanes, in Romania you have roads with waves, especially on the sides, no bicycle lanes (and the only one in Bucharest is used by old people to walk on) and the sewers are right in the pavement, they look like big square 5-10 cm deep holes. So, if on bicycle, you might want to break from time to time

  • water makes cars skid on the pavement. It's actually called hydroplaning, when the water goes between the car wheel and the road. Some drivers might want to control or at least stop their car when they wake up and see they're on a collision course with a bike.

  • new research shows that water on the pavement elevates the temperature comfort level, making it even easier to affect oh, let's say, people that drive on the said roads when the heat is up and don't have air conditioning in their car. Or a car.

  • there is no way to get around a street wetter with the bike. The only solution is to wait until all the cars go past it, then go all around the other side of the street to avoid getting sprinkled. Luckily, these dumb ugly beasts are slower than my bike.

My obvious conclusion is: Street sweepers suck!
I am citing from a random link: PM-10 / PM-2.5 class street sweepers are in a developmental stage. This type of sweeper will pick up dust particulate down to 10 micron is size. The city's Envirowhirl PM-10 street sweeper utilizes a combination of mechanical and air sweeper features to pick up debris. They also utilize an internal system of dry filters to retain all dust larger than 10 microns within the sweeper's hopper. No water is used for dust control.
I hope they bring something like this in Bucharest soon and that it doesn't suck. Much.


DICEY said...

Just obtain Romanian citizenship, become Bucharest next mayor and get rid of these monster thingies.

Siderite said...

awwwh... do I have to?