Portland will be testing ground for new bike lane sweeper trailer

It’s a street sweeper you pull behind your bike. (Photos: Pierre Lermant)
Pierre and his bike lane sweeper ready to make the trip to Portland.

Keeping bike lanes clean is a problem that the City of Portland is yet to solve. And as budget problems worsen at the transportation bureau, a significant improvement to this perennial problem looks further away than ever.

But don’t despair, there’s a DIY solution!

Do you recall back in January 2022 we profiled a California-based inventor who was working on a bike lane sweeper trailer? His name is Pierre Lermant and he’s coming to Portland this week to show off his latest prototype. You can meet Pierre and see his creation outside the MADE Bike Show in South Waterfront this Friday through Sunday.

According to Pierre, his sweeper has gone through major improvements since last year. He’s most proud of his new electric hub motor encased in the brush core. “This allows for a streamlined design, very quiet operations and no chain/belt maintenance,” he shared in an email to BikePortland last week.

Below is more from Pierre, and a video that shows the sweeper in action:

“The sweeper operator can now rotate the hopper around the wheels’ axle, so its content can be dumped directly to the ground by tilting it with a handle attached to it. This provides an alternative way of using a bag inside the hopper to collect the debris.

Finally, I made the brush height adjustment to the ground more convenient with a turnbuckle.”

Pierre has also teamed up with local nonprofit BikeLoud PDX. He plans to leave the prototype with them for an extended testing period. BikeLoud PDX says they’ll loan the trailer out to anyone interested. Pierre says he’ll incorporate testing from Portland users into the design of what he hopes will be the final blueprint before the trailer can become a full-fledged consumer product in 2024.  

Look for BikeLoud to begin loans of the sweeper this fall — just as all the leaves return to our bike lanes.

Don’t forget to swing by the MADE Bike Show to meet Pierre. He and his sweeper will be outside the main entrance from Friday August 25th to Sunday, August 27th. Learn more at BikeLaneSweeper.com.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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maxD
maxD
10 months ago

I love it! I would love to give that a trial run.

blumdrew
10 months ago

Looks pretty awesome! Other cities have dedicated bike lane sweepers (here’s a blurb about them in Chicago), but I do think it makes sense to clean bike infrastructure with bikes. Hope this little invention can get some traction, I’d be interested in trying it out at least

Ujkl
Ujkl
10 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Portland has one, too: https://bikeportland.org/2021/12/14/portland-has-teeny-tiny-bike-lane-sweeper-we-should-use-it-a-lot-more-342215

But judging by the state of Portland bike lanes, it doesn’t get used much.

harlo pippenger
harlo pippenger
10 months ago
Reply to  Ujkl

But judging by the state of Portland bike lanes, it doesn’t get used much.

Considering how many businesses blow their leaves and debris into bike lanes, one sweepers won’t make much of a difference. We’ve regressed to the point where bike lanes aren’t viewed as important infrastructure but are instead seen as landscaping debris-storage zones, construction project storage space, package delivery parking, food delivery parking, auxiliary parking zones, or conventional shoulders (e.g. where you can stop to fiddle with your phone while driving).

These days I tend to avoid bike lanes because riding on residential streets is just less stressful.

maxD
maxD
10 months ago

“Better Naito is still being used as loading for the Saturday Market- it was absolutely unrideable when I was there last Saturday evening. I was heading south and no great options except to turn backtrack and take the the lane on Naito. PBOT keeps spending A LOT of $$ on bike stuff that should be great, but they neglect a bunch of key details and forcing bikes to navigate sketchy stuff, which is exactly what the bike infrastructure was supposed to avoid.

dw
dw
10 months ago
Reply to  maxD

I had the same experience on Naito this last Saturday. Super frustrating and made even more so by the fact that they had a big LED sign warning drivers about upcoming lane closures that was planted over 3/4 of the Naito bike lane. I won’t go to the Saturday market again until they stop blocking the bike lane.

thexennial
thexennial
5 months ago

Not to mention curbside waste bin loading areas…

Todd/Boulanger
10 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Vancouver USA has one too.

Nick
Nick
10 months ago

Reminds me a bit of this person’s bicycle powered snow plow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaO9cSFZdA4

mc
mc
10 months ago

It’s 2023, it’s way past time to dispense w. the plastic bags. All this fuq’n technology and still more fuq’n plastic bags!!!

How fuq’n hard is it for someone on a block to just use a broom, rack, shovel or even a goddam fuq’n leaf blower if necessary. Jesus fuq’n christ almighty with this fuq’n idiocy!!!

You’re gonna make me lose what’s left of my goddam feeble mind…

Alan
Alan
10 months ago
Reply to  mc

You can always dump out the bag and reuse.

mc
mc
10 months ago

It’s 2023, it’s way past time to dispense w. plastic bags. Also, bike lane sweeping technology already exists, brooms, rakes, and even those damn leaf blowers that I hate so damn much!

Einstein said, “I fear technology has surpassed our humanity.” It’s also surpassed our common sense and enabled us to be lazy and dumb.

The landscape crew at my apt. complex literally walks through the parking lot and down the street with them blowing crap all over the goddamn place.

It only takes 1 person or bus. owner on each block to look at the bike lane and think, “Oh, that looks especially crappy & dangerous for people to ride their bikes on, let me clean it up real quick.”

The cleanest form of personal transportation has to travel in the dirtiest part of the road.

Nick
Nick
10 months ago
Reply to  mc

What about sections that are over a bridge or other areas where there’s no clear adjacent property owner?

joan
10 months ago

I appreciate the innovation here but it sure is depressing that we’re at a point where doing basic infrastructure maintenance as private citizens seems like the only way to be able to bike safely in the fall.

(Also share concerns about putting primarily leaves and tree debris in plastic bags in the trash, but you can’t really just brush the leaves to the right because the bike lanes are already the gutter for car lanes. Also I suspect you’d fill up one of those bags in just one block of N Williams north of Russell.)

John
John
10 months ago
Reply to  joan

Yeah, it looks like it would be great at picking up a small amount of stuff that wasn’t really an obstacle anyway. I guess in theory if one passed over an area once or twice a week that might be enough, otherwise as you said it’s going to fill up in like 20 feet.

The amount of storage leaves something to be desired. I’m sure you could just leave out the bag and have a box you empty or something. I guess it’s just a proof of concept, a better version could fix that stuff. But all that’s besides the point, PBOT should be sweeping the bike lanes just like the streets and leaves shouldn’t be allowed to pile up except like, the day before leaf pickup maybe.

Serenity
Serenity
10 months ago
Reply to  joan

I have an unpopular idea….

Edward
Edward
10 months ago

Anybody have a link to the sign up? I’ll take SE Bybee between the overpass and Reed College if I can get a turn.

Carrie
Carrie
10 months ago

Sigh. I feel like this is yet another example of someone coming up with a new/fancy/’better’ widget when the fundamental problem (in Portland anyway) is that it doesn’t seem like we’re regularly using the widgets we already have in the places we KNOW get inundated seasonally. (This is an on-the-ground example of our friggin climate change ‘solutions). We don’t need to engineer yet another way to sweep up debris — we just need to sweep up the debris with the tools we already have!

Alan
Alan
10 months ago
Reply to  Carrie

I like that it is peddle powered with electric assist.

Let's Active
Let's Active
10 months ago
Reply to  Carrie

I don’t know. The city’s pretty darn big for the “widgets we already have” to clean all the bike lanes regularly. Adding some DIY cleaning is a nice idea. We can wait for that perfect world where all our streets are immaculately cleaned by city sweepers (hint: it’s never going to happen) or we can support those who are interested in helping do some good for all of us.

Riva
Riva
10 months ago

I’ve been trying to justify the price of a snow pusher and/or cordless sweeper brush(Ryobi makes a few) just to put on a cargo bike or something, but I would happily pay more for a streamlined and tested trailer.

Of course Cities need to do more, but I could also empty the hopper when I get to work and always have a nicely swept bikelane commute.

Alan
Alan
10 months ago

Im more concerned with glass in the bike lanes than leaves. I hope it works well on glass. How much?

Stephen Scarich
Stephen Scarich
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan

It is unlikely that it will be powerful enough to pick up a significant amount of glass. Just think how hard it is when you try to do it with a strong pushbroom and a lot of muscle. There is a basic design flaw, though. It will not get closer than 4 or 5″ or the curb, due to the wheel design, so a large amount (most?) of the accumulated debris will be untouched. If you pay attention while riding, there is always a large amount of the worst debris pushed up against the curb. Any successful design will have the brush extended to the far outside of the machine.

Serenity
Serenity
10 months ago

That’s what trialruns are for, to work out the bugs.

Pierre
10 months ago

Hello, we tried it out in the streets of Portland this past weekend and it did a great job on all kinds of debris, from glass to leaves and gravel. The latest design is very compact and can get within an inch or 2 of the curb. Email owner@bikelanesweeper.com for more info

Stephen Fosdick
Stephen Fosdick
10 months ago

I’m visiting from Boise. Just attended MADE, in hopes of seeing this trailer. Is there some other place you plan to be today where I can meet you and see your design? sharedstreetsidaho@gmail.com

Arturo P
Arturo P
10 months ago

Can someone remind me why I pay taxes again? Now we need to clean our own bike lanes? It would be thing if our taxes were low but they’re second only to NYC.
It’s no wonder taxpayers are bailing out.

https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/the-story/portland-central-city-task-force-kotek-data-problems/283-c14cdf25-b973-49a5-bd28-de1ada0279ab

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
10 months ago

But the bike lane vagrancy due to the city’s indifference. SW 13th’s bike lane has been perpetually closed for who knows how long around Montgomery.