July 28, 2014, by Peter Brewitt
Concrete Progress is an ongoing series of columns by Peter Brewitt devoted to exploring America’s infrastructure. It is part of Orion’s Reimagining Infrastructure project. Top photo by Samuel Belmonte.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP RUMBLErumblerumblerumble thud CRASH!
That’s the sound of my Thursday mornings. It’s trash day in the Lowbright neighborhood, and the garbage trucks roar through the street at the perky hour of 5:45 a.m. I am grateful for this service, of course, but it does seem like a bit of a noisy, annoying, resource-intensive way to move our waste. After six years in Santa Cruz, I had resigned myself to this as part of life—like the barking of the sea lions—until I heard about Pedal People.
Pedal People is a worker-owned co-op that bike-hauls trash, groceries, CSA farm shares, compost, domestic cats, solar panels, Christmas trees, and anything else that needs moving in and around Northampton, Massachusetts. The bikes let them do this with minimal pollution, noise, or carbon emissions, and at a cost reasonable enough that the city contracts with them instead of with a traditional diesel-run trash company. It’s the lowest-impact hauling service to hit New England since the Ox-Cart Man.