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The Fixer: New trash bins a better fit in tight quarters than one-sided transit shelters

Toronto News, February 5, 2013

If Astral Media was as good at designing a transit shelter for cramped quarters as a bin for trash and recycling, there’d be a lot more happy TTC riders.

We’ve reported on the miserable failure of “canopy” shelters, which have only one wall and an angled roof, for use in confined sidewalk spaces where a full-sized shelter won’t fit.

Many riders told us the one-sided shelters are all but useless and a waste of money, which recently prompted Astral and the city to decide not to put up any more of them.

Astral has a 20-year contract to provide street furniture to the city, including trash bins and shelters. It sells advertising space on the sides of shelters and shares the revenue with the city.

The same constraints that necessitated smaller shelters also apply to bins, but Astral has come up with a much better design, which has none of the moving parts that have plagued the full-sized bins.

Ron Hutchinson, a senior vice-president at Astral, says it recently began installing new, smaller bins where there’s a need for a receptacle but the sidewalk spaced is cramped.

They’re similar in design to the large bins, but squared at the edges instead of curvy, and will replace the beige plastic bins used at bus stops and other locations where a large receptacle won’t fit.

One of the first was installed on the west side of Kensington Ave., at St. Andrew St., where the narrow sidewalk is often crowded with pedestrians, as a replacement for two small trash cans attached to a post.

The holes into which trash and recycling are pushed are not covered by the flaps that have proven troublesome on the big bins, which are opened by a foot pedal that often breaks down in high pedestrian areas.

Astral has improved the hardware that connects the foot pedal to the flaps on 925 new bins to be rolled out this year, but there’s nothing to go wrong on the smaller ones, which may be the best thing about them.