Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 7th, 2022 at 12:48 pm
A reader from the San Francisco Bay area saw our recent story on the city’s bikeway-sized street sweeper and wanted us to know he’s taking the idea a few steps further.
Pierre Lermant has a background in mechanical and software engineering and has developed several prototypes of a bike lane sweeper that is towed behind a bicycle. His creation takes the DIY sweeper we shared back in 2018 and moves it several notches up the chain of evolution.
Since we’re fascinated and frustrated by the persistent problem of debris-filled bikeways, I was glad to hear from Lermant. I asked him to share more about himself and his creation.
Lermant, who grew up in Paris, France and now lives in Sunnyvale, California where he works remotely for online payment giant PayPal, said he was inspired to create his sweeper after seeing the poor state of bike lanes on his 10-mile commute. “Although the San Francisco bay area enjoys more and more bike lanes and bike paths,” he shared with me in an email, “many of them are not being cleaned by conventional city sweepers, either because they don’t border residential areas, or because of their physical characteristics (think protected bike lanes).”
“To remedy the situation, I thought of building bicycle-towable bike lane sweepers that would complement conventional city sweepers and rid bike lanes of debris regardless of their location and configuration.”
Here are a few videos of the sweeper in use:
Lermant is prototyping two versions: a sweeper with an angled brush that pushes debris into the gutter and does not need an on-board hopper; and a version with a hopper that collects the debris it sweeps up. He says he plans to productize the ‘sweep-to-the-side’ model first because it has fewer parts and is easier and cheaper to build (because there’s no hopper to empty).
Here are a few tech specs of his current iteration:
– The sweeping brush spins at about 150 rpm. It is made of polypropylene bristles, similar to the material used in municipal mechanical street sweepers.
– Electrical motor with a built-in 10x gear reducer produces plenty of torque. Powered by a rechargeable battery. A simple sprocket+chain mechanism transfers rotational power from the motor to the brush.
– An articulated tow bar combined with a low resistance extension spring allows for fine tuning of the brush downward pressure with a low cost, simple and robust mechanical solution.
– A hitch, similar to the ones found on children bike trailers, connects the sweeper tow bar to the rear hub of a bicycle, conventional or e-bike, with a wheel size between 26″ to 29″.
– Given its modest size and weight, this eco-sweeper requires little energy to tow, especially at the prescribed speed of 3 mph to 7 mph.
– The overall system is under a non-provisional utility patent application.
According to Lermant, he plans to sell these sweepers to both direct retail consumers and organizations. Longer term he expects municipal governments and agencies to purchase fleets to supplement other sweeping equipment. Pricing isn’t finalized yet, but Lermant says anyone is welcome to contact him (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they are interested in purchasing or borrowing a prototype for testing.
He’d also appreciate any feedback or insights to help make his product even better.
Imagine having something like this available at your local hardware store! Good luck Pierre!