Hat’s off to the folks of Northampton, Massachusetts, where Pedal People has been operating a successful curbside human-powered bicycle pick-up service for garbage/recycling/compost since 2002. The cooperative has a fleet of 12 bike trailers that can each haul up to 300 pounds and a staff of 14. The following list of reasons to use such an environmentally sustainable service (found on their website) provides an excellent summary of the benefits:
- Clean air: Diesel exhaust particles can cause or exacerbate many health problems, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and have been linked to cancer and premature death .
- No pavement damage: Trucks cause nearly all of the load-related damage to pavement. A vehicle weighing five tons causes over 100 times as much damage as a vehicle weighing one ton . Getting trucks off the residential streets means the pavement lasts longer, saving the city and its taxpayers money.
- Quiet: There’s no engine or compactor noise with us.
- Local economy: A greater percentage of the money you pay us stays in the local economy instead of getting spent on foreign oil.
- Less waste: Trucks are most efficient at transporting large quantities long distances. Picking up residential trash requires many stops and starts. Every time a truck accelerates from a stop, it emits soot and smog-forming pollution. Pedal People consolidates the trash and recycling, so trucks can do what they’re best at. We also provide entirely human-powered compost service for no extra charge with trash pickup.
- Service: We offer personalized and flexible service. All the trash (up to 30 or 60 gallons per pickup, depending on your plan) and both kinds of recycling are picked up at once — no need to remember which week is which. If you don’t want to bring your trash to the curb, we can pick it up anywhere our bikes can easily go for no extra charge.
- Reliability: In our 15 years of operation we’ve done 233,557 pickups and have rarely had to postpone due to severe weather.
- Guarantee: If you’re ever not satisfied with our service, we’ll refund the unused portion of your bill at any time.
- Donations: We’ll bring bags of clothing to a donation box for no extra charge.
- Cost: For small and medium sized pickups, our prices are very competitive, and if you’re switching from another service, your first month is free with no obligation to continue. We also offer a 15% senior discount.
- Union of Concerned Scientists, “Has Heavy Diesel Equipment Fouled Your Air?” (http://go.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/trucks_and_buses/page.cfm?pageID=1212)
- US DOT Federal Highway Administration, “Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study” (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/tswstudy/Vol3-Chapter5.pdf)
Particularly impressive is the fact they have nearly reached a quarter million pickups since the inception of Pedal People. Well done!