Why Recycling Day = Flat Tire Day

Cycling to work every day I averaged 1 flat per month through 2012. None of them took place on my long rides outside of the city and almost all of the punctures were from broken glass.  I’ve been riding year round for over a decade and it has never been so bad before.  This past year I have largely given up on my track bike as my daily commuter and started riding my old Kona Humu Humu nuku nuku Apua’a again, it’s 1.5″ Tioga City Slickers being that much more puncture resistant than my 23mm road tires.

What has changed on our city’s roads?  Well, picture this:  Last Wed was recycling day along at least part of my route to work.  The crews were out collecting recycling in the morning when I was riding home, the 1st of 2 commutes that day, and I could see the usual piles of broken glass that they left behind at every stop, usually ranging from a few tablespoons to a 1/2 cup worth of glass shards.  Eventually car tires, much more resistant to puncture, grind the shards into dust, and after a day or two you barely even see it.

Cyclists dreaming of a car-less utopia take note – we would quickly find ourselves waste deep in broken glass!

On my way back to work later in the day I decided to take a few pics.  Here are the leftovers from 4 recycling truck stops in a row (taken around 2pm along Blythwood Rd between Yonge and Mount Pleasant), several hours after collection:

Recycle1 Recycle2

This is what is left behind at every stop!  Please zoom in on that last one if you want to see why cyclists are riding so far from the curb.

Municipalities are struggling to get rid of the mountains of mixed broken glass collected every year, much of it ending up in landfills.  Perhaps this is their way of dumping the excess, kind of like in the old movie ‘The Great Escape’ where the POWs have to come up with a way of hiding all of the dirt from their tunnels.  I think we could save the City of Toronto a pile of money if we would all just smash our own bottles in the middle of the road and save them the trouble.

Or, if you’d like to register complaints until they finally fix their collection process you can call 311 every time you see these piles of broken glass.

Happy riding (be sure to bring a patch kit)!