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Pilot Program Seeks to Clean Up City Sidewalks

If the sidewalks in front of your co-op or condo are starting to look like a landfill as refuse from pandemic-fueled deliveries piles up, this is your chance to do something about it.


Christine Berthet, a cofounder of the nonprofit Chelsea-Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety, is seeking one building from each borough to support the Trash Off Sidewalk Space (TOSS) program. The plan aims to transform some parking spaces into bagged garbage drop-off and collection sites that would reduce the refuse on residential sidewalks.


“Garbage is taking more and more sidewalk space, preventing the disabled or people with strollers from getting around piles of trash,” Berthet says. “It’s unsafe.”


The coalition was already advocating for change last year when the city’s Departments of Sanitation and Transportation appealed for “creative ideas” to help tame the trash. The group’s TOSS response outlined such benefits as fewer sanitation truck stops, lowered gasoline use, reduced air pollution and rat populations and an overall tidier city. But the group never heard back from the city.


Then COVID-19 arrived, ramping up reliance on home delivery to people confined in their apartments and worsening sidewalk blockages. “It became overwhelming,” Berthet says, “and it made it impossible for pedestrians to socially distance.”


This time, the city got on board. But the positive response was accompanied by a significant caveat. “They didn’t want to do a pilot without including the entire city,” Berthet says. “So our challenge was to find a place in each borough willing to participate.”


The coalition’s proposal calls for designating trash “parking spaces” on the street to house bagged garbage. Participants can choose between two options: place bagged garbage in the designated space, or install seven-foot-tall “trash corrals” that hold up to 85 bags and cost about $400 each. Additionally, the corrals will have rat traps, to avoid becoming a rodent buffet.


“With just one building per borough – or, better yet, a whole block – we’ll be able to test parking spots as a temporary site to help clear street space,” Berthet says. To learn more about the pilot program, take the coalition’s survey at, send an email to, or leave a telephone message at (646) 623-2689.

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