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by Craig Pryce July 21, 2020

We’ve all been there — you’re on your way to work in the morning, you’ve left the house with plenty of time but then there’s an unexpected queue of traffic, which you later come to realise is down to a bin lorry blocking the road.

Refuse collections tend to be planned for the same time weekly or fortnightly and so, if you’re stuck in a traffic queue one week, the chances are you’ll be stuck in a queue the next too.

How to avoid bin lorries

Of course, you will want to avoid bin lorries doing their rounds, if possible.

One option is to leave the house at a different time — either later or earlier than usual.

Another option is to switch up your route — even travelling on a much longer route could get you to work quicker than sitting in stationary traffic for 15 minutes.

If there are no other routes available, then it could be worth taking advantage of those flexible working hours your boss has probably mentioned to the team.

By starting work just half an hour later one morning each week, you could avoid the bin lorries altogether.

Can bin lorries block the road?

So, we know they do block the road sometimes but are bin lorries legally allowed to do so?

Refuse trucks must adhere to the rules of the road as much as the next vehicle and waste management companies will receive warnings and fines if the trucks, for example, park illegally.

Such as the refuse truck driver in Sutton Coldfield who kept parking fully on the pavement to pop into a Sainsbury’s store during his working day.

However, being realistic, bin lorries are large vehicles, and some streets are unfortunately very narrow.

In order for the refuse collectors to carry out their job, they are going to have to temporarily block some roads.

In fact, some bin lorries purposely block narrow roads to make the road safe for pedestrians who might otherwise cross and not be seen by passing traffic.

bin lorry lifting wheelie bin while workers watch

Cars blocking bin lorries

While bin lorries blocking the road get a lot of press, it is also sometimes the case that bins aren’t emptied because a bin lorry can’t access a road.

This tends to be due to other vehicles parking in such a way that the bin lorry cannot fit down the street.

While a smaller bin lorry could be called for (if one exists) or the refuse collectors could, in theory, walk to collect each wheelie bin on the street, both of these solutions would end in houses at the end of the collection route not getting their bins emptied because the shift would already have ended.

Bin lorries were blocked by parked vehicles so often in an area of Boston, Lincolnshire, that the local council and fire service both spoke out about it.

Bin collections had to be cancelled several times, which the council weren’t happy about.

The fire service was concerned that it also wouldn’t be able to make its way down the street in an emergency situation.

Final thoughts

In summary, bin lorries try their best not to disrupt traffic but sometimes they do need to in order to go about their business, and sometimes they do so on purpose to keep pedestrians safe.

Likewise, sometimes bin lorries can’t access roads because of motorists parking in a manner that blocks the road. This is especially a problem when it comes to vehicles double parking as the bin trucks are large and wide.

Craig Pryce

Craig Pryce

With over 17 years of experience in the waste and recycling industry, Craig is passionate about making recycling easier and reducing the negative impact of litter. He has been the managing director of Wheelie Bin Solutions (WBS) since January 2016, and prides the company on his expert knowledge, top-quality products, and customer service. His proudest moment was when WBS supported the 2012 Olympic Games, working in partnership with Contenur UK to supply over 9000 bin containers to all Olympic venues. Craig is always keen to share his knowledge, so whether you need advice about the benefits of a wheelie bin lock, or ideas for alternative uses for your wheelie bin, Craig will ensure your recycling and waste disposal habits are gold medal worthy.