Cement trucks off-loading cement in the wrong places: The Fixer

What to do about cement trucks that slop dollops of their cargo on the road, where it hardens into a raised rock?

Concrete is the glue in the condo towers, buildings and new homes that keep going up. An amalgam of cement powder, sand, gravel and water, it requires constant churning to stay soft enough to work with.

That’s where the redi-mix truck comes in, its fat cylinder behind the cab steadily revolving to maintain an even consistency until the wet cement is delivered to a construction site.

But when a relatively small amount is inadvertently dripped on the road, it can be a big problem for bike riders.

We recently got notes from two cyclists about spilled cement that has hardened into raised patches that force a choice between riding over them or veering into traffic.

Rick Owens said he rides downtown daily on Eastern Ave. and encounters piles of cement in the westbound curb lane, near Broadview Ave.

“It’s in the worst spot possible from a cyclist’s perspective,” he said. “It is too close to the curb to go around that side, and far enough out into the lane that going around means going well into traffic.”

He first contacted 311 last December, but nothing was done, said Owens, except for snowplows that rounded them off with their blades.

“The next step will be to do the job myself. I suspect that I can get rid of the worst of the hazards in 20 minutes or so (about 19 minutes longer than it would take someone with a jackhammer).”

Judith Butler sent us photos of large patches of spilled cement near the curb on northbound Spadina Ave., near Bremner Blvd., right in the path of bike riders.

“Whereas cars may not feel the effects of the bumpy patches, someone on two wheels could certainly come a-cropper in this very busy traffic area,” she said.

“With all the construction that has gone on in that area recently, it is not surprising that spills like this have occurred.”

She makes a good point, but construction is everywhere and the spills are not uncommon. On Tuesday, without looking for it, we spotted a long patch of spilled cement on eastbound Front St., just west of Jarvis St.

Another reader provides us with occasional updates on cement spilled by mixers coming and going from a cement plant near his Etobicoke home.

More on this in August, when we’re back from a couple weeks off. And if any cement truck drivers can shed light on this sticky issue, let us know.

STATUS: Steve Johnston, who deals with media for transportation services, emailed to say road crews will be dispatched to scrape off the spills on Eastern and Spadina.

What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Send an email to jlakey@thestar.ca . Report problems and follow us on Twitter @TOStarFixer.


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