Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Street sweeping officially ends on October 31, Washington D.C.

October 13, 2011 - 01:08 PM
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Don't park without reading. (Photo: John Hendel)

October 31 may be Halloween but it also signifies another wonderful development — the end to the District's street sweeping for 2011.

The designated street-sweeping days are different all over the District, but for many D.C. drivers, street sweeping is a bane to know and avoid. In my neighborhood in Petworth, the street sweepers come on Monday and Tuesday. They clean up one side of the street each day, and what this means is that I and everyone else on the block are forced to park on one side of the street on Monday and the other side on Tuesday. Often the legal side fills up fast, and I end up scrambling to grab the last spot at 8 a.m. on the chosen day as other commuters drive off. The restriction only applies for a couple hours in the morning, but for many workers, the law forces them to park the car on the right side before they leave in the morning. I take the Metro to work, and some weeks, the only time I use my car is to move it to avoid the street sweeping. Ostensibly, the whole process is to improve pedestrian life and get rid of the litter that people failed to deposit in any of the 4,800 trash cans the city has installed throughout D.C.

According to the city's website, tickets will typically run you $30 if you forget to move your car and the Sweepercam gets you. You seriously never want to forget to move your car, people. I accidentally left mine in Columbia Heights over the weekend and when I returned earlier this week, there were $200 worth of tickets on my windshield, two for $100 each. For the record, D.C., this is why driver frustration escalates against you unlike I've seen virtually anywhere else. Perhaps the Department of Public Works will consider that a journalistic experiment and waive some of the cost?

We'll at least have a reprieve from the street sweeping restrictions soon. In 2011, street sweeping began in D.C.'s residential neighborhoods all the way back on March 1, and the DPW says it's hoping to now keep those dates firm for every year, barring weather issues — a March 1 beginning and an October 31 conclusion. Last year it ended on Friday, October 29. So rejoice, drivers ... we only have a couple more weeks of frantic reparking.

Next up on the DPW agenda — leaf collection! Let the fall foliage begin.

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