BEST OF 2021: To the car that parked in front of my bins: an open letter

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A car parked in front of rubbish on a Canberra street

Why? Why would you do this to me? Photo: Damien Larkins.

Year in Review: Region Media is revisiting some of the best Opinion articles of 2021. Here’s what got you talking, got you angry and got you thinking in 2021. Today, everyone’s favourite job, putting out the bins.

Putting the bins out isn’t my favourite task – but having to move them later because someone parked them in makes it a real chore.

For the second week in a row, it feels like I’ve had to put my bins out twice.

Each time, on the allotted evening, I’ve dutifully rolled them to the kerb to be collected in the morning, only to find later that night someone has parked right in front of them.

I’m not angry. I’m not even disappointed. Mostly, I’m confused. Why? Why would someone do this? It makes absolutely zero sense.

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There’s plenty of other spots to park, possibly in front of your own house and not mine. It hasn’t even been the same car.

Who even does that?

Is there a secretive cabal of local neighbourhood watchers, passive-aggressively trying to inform me that I’m not putting them out the right way?

If there’s a better way, or somewhere else I should put them out, can someone please just tell me?

Does the very presence of my bins besmirch the overall look and feel of the street? There are plenty of other bins out (in fact, that’s how I usually can tell if it’s recycling week); why are mine so viscerally disagreeable?

Garbage bins. Photo: Region Media.

No one parked in front of these bins. Why? Photo: Region Media.

Once my muttered curses subside, I take a breath and ponder some reasonable explanations.

I tried to take myself out of my (now damp) slippers and into their shoes and ask myself if there is a perfectly good reason that I’m not seeing.

Maybe they didn’t see my bins? I mean, there is some slim chance that two large green bins, one with a red lid and the bigger one with a bright yellow lid, directly under a streetlight could be overlooked.

There were other parking spots all around the street, but maybe the driver was headed somewhere where an extra few steps just weren’t feasible?

Were they on crutches? In which case, how rude of someone else to park in their spot and make them walk so far.

Maybe the driver knew they’d be gone before the garbage truck came the next day, though I defy anyone to know exactly when the truck comes beyond “usually sometime on bin day”.

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Applying Occam’s Razor, it’s the simplest explanation that I was keen to avoid.

The one idea I didn’t want to admit, that may be most likely, is they simply didn’t care.

It didn’t cross their mind that my bins might not be emptied because of their actions.

Who cares that I might have to haul my bin full with a week’s worth of garbage in the car to the tip and pay $14 to dump it?

Or, if I’m very lucky, that the garbage truck driver might be forced to get out and move them, as if they don’t already have a hard enough job. Do they even do this nowadays – is it the big mechanical arm or nothing?

A rubbish bin on a Canberra street

Fortunately, it didn’t happen the next week, or any week since (touch wood). Photo: Damien Larkins.

Maybe this person’s single-minded desire to park in the spot directly in front of my house, directly in front of my bins, was simply greater than concern about the convenience of others.

Because, in the end, it’s not the end of the world, it is just an inconvenience.

In the early morning, before going to work, I had to move my bins because of someone else’s choices.

I didn’t want to, I shouldn’t have had to, but it was the only reasonable and viable solution to ease my mind and ensure they’d be collected.

I’m not naming and shaming the person who parked there – though it would feel good to flex some petty revenge.

But you know who you are.

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If you need to take the bin-load to the tip for missing one garbage pick-up, you need to look at your wastage. In normal weeks I might put the equivalence of one Canberra Times plastic bag’s worth (smaller than a plastic shopping bag) in the bin. That means, I could miss several garbage pick-ups and not have a problem.
Still, parking in front of bins on the pick-up evening is rude. There is the driveway though. That’s where I put my bins last time.

Someone has been parking across my driveway and leaving the car for days at a time and knows it.

Capital Retro8:58 pm 31 Dec 21

Strategically concealed prawn heads needed. If a window is left open slightly, even better.

Ugh the bins still get emptied. Geez have you ever seen a high density street or city. The trucks are capable of lifting the bins over parked cars

CraigFromCurtin12:16 pm 19 Nov 21

That is completely incorrect. The trucks CANNOT lower their arm over the height of a car in the way and even if they could they would not (think of the liability if the truck’s arm damaged the car or dropped the bin on it). Anyway, they can’t. Just where did you get this crazy notion from? 🙂

Craig from Curtin, perhaps you don’t know that even Ken Behren’s single-operator garbage trucks can reach SIDEWAYS more than enough to reach a Bin on the curb line positioned between two curbside parked cars, if the cars’ bumper to bumper gap is wide enough.
And you might also read Jenny Dunstan’s reply above about Melbourne/s high-lifting trucks.
Things we have never seen, sometimes can surprise us.
(This is a “first world” debate, of course.)

I think you answered your own question. They choose to park their car under the street light.

I have an annoying, ongoing problem with my ##### neighbour. They consistently put their bins in a position that is very difficult for the collection trucks to reach even though they have a choice of easier positions. I have installed artificial turf in my front garden and the truck was driving onto my expensive turf and tearing it up. I have now had to install a rock edging along the front of my property to deter them. I feel sorry for the truck drivers as I watch them trying to manoeuvre to pick up their bins. I’m surprised they don’t refuse to empty them. BTW their recycle and green bins are usually full of rubbish also ?

Frank Spencer12:51 pm 15 Nov 21

First world problems!

Frank Spencer12:49 pm 15 Nov 21

If this is worthy of a feature story your life must be pretty good.

I feel sorry for you as I am in a similar situation. Unfortunately we live in a selfish society and many people are just uncaring and self absorbed. My neighbours constantly park right out the front of my house (often on my front lawn) and when I asked why they don’t park in their own house (they have plenty of room), they said they don’t want to ruin their own front garden. They would rather ruin my lawn and I have nowhere to put my bins either. Some people are just selfish and disrespectful of others. Not sure what can be done about it, unless ACT government would introduce a law (and police it properly) stating not to park on nature strips and roads.

It is already illegal to park on a nature strip, but unenforced as a routine matter. However, a photograph and report to Access Canberra can have an effect if they are repeat offenders.

It is little realised but the pressure on the ground from vehicle tyres is enormous, packing the ground and killing or debilitating even trees let alone smaller plantings which are crushed.

I’d be parking on their lawn.

Probably would take a live feed from a camera before they acted. Always wondered what is it with this habit of gouging a track on the verge with at least two wheels that some poor sod has put the effort into maintaining to the letter, and why the parking Gestapo and the city rangers ignore the issue?

ChrisinTurner1:53 pm 14 Nov 21

Around medium and high-density homes the streets are packed at night because the government expects everyone to travel by public transport. Some of the inner-north has ‘no standing’ parking signs for garbage pickup places and times.

Capital Retro6:02 pm 14 Nov 21

Only 4 houses in my cul de sac, I have 3 cars (soon to be one) and the other houses have 3, 3 and 4. There is no where to park off-street for visitors and the street isn’t able to have cars parked with safety.

Young people still living at home used to use buses but small, very reliable ICE powered cars are now “cheap as chips”. Town planners must have known this transition was happening but they didn’t apply a solution when designing Gungahlin and Molonglo.

well park around the corner in another street.

Possibly there could be legislation to prevent people from parking next to bins, or to be considerate of parking away from bins that have been put out, if there isn’t any legislation already. From what I could tell about ACT parking on public roads is that it is allowed if there is a certain buffer measurement for vehicles to pass, but I don’t think I read anything about parking next to bins, though there might be some information or legislation that I am not aware of about parking next to bins.

If I need to park on the roadside in front of properties, I try to park closer to or straddle the side property fences on the road to be considerate of bins being put out.

David Riddell2:59 pm 14 Nov 21

In some streets “no parking” signage particular to the day the bins are serviced have been erected. Regardless the contract states bins are to be serviced regardless of the obstruction. Goes as far as to advise that in some circumstances the driver will exit the vehicle, service the bin are return to original position.

The top of the car is already red. Paint the sides green and hope the rubbish truck takes it away.

Or perhaps get a mate, lift the bins and sit them on the roof of the car.

Or of course you could leave a polite note on their car.

From the photo you have provided it looks as though that car is parked perfectly legally. Why don’t you put your bins on your driveway? Those of us who live in suburbs where both sides of the street are lined with cars do it and we all seem to cope. Perhaps you could try it and instead of having to move your bins you could suffer the “huge” inconvenience of having to drive out of your property with a tiny bit more care.

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