Every week, many of us roll out our trash cans to the street to be picked up by the garbage collectors. If you live in the city of Phoenix, you could be leaving your bin out in the wrong spot and breaking the law.

Aaron Edgell, a 44-year-old man with muscular dystrophy, relies on his motorized wheelchair to get around. Unfortunately, when he rides along Arizona sidewalks, he sometimes runs into obstacles that make it impossible to continue through. Those obstacles are trash cans that are placed out there every week for collections.

“This is how I get around,” said Edgall, talking about his wheelchair. He needs the chair and unobstructed sidewalks for transportation, but he finds that he often runs into problems. “You often find garbage cans in the middle of sidewalks and they’re impassable at that point,” he explained.

When Edgall comes across a can blocking the sidewalk, he is forced to ride his wheelchair out into the street to go around the obstacle, which poses an obvious threat to his safety. Otherwise, he could risk getting stuck in the dirt and rocks trying to pass the trash can. “It’s scary,” he said. “You take your life in your hands every time you do it.”

phoenix trash bins

Improperly placed trash bins in Phoenix – on the sidewalk.

Although residents are part of the problem, sanitation workers also contribute. Edgall’s friend took a video of the city’s workers emptying the cans into their truck, and then replacing them onto the sidewalks. “Technically, they’re breaking our city ordinance when they place containers on a place that is not allowable – which again is in the street or in the sidewalk,” said Felipe Moreno, who is a deputy public works director for Phoenix. “Put the container at the edge of the curb, away from vehicular traffic.”

trash bins in phoenix

Properly place trash bins on the curb in Phoenix.

Some residents of the city say they haven’t ever heard of this rule before, and the same goes for the sanitation workers. There seems to be a real problem of people being uneducated of the rules, and it happens all across the city. “When a driver makes a mistake, we work to help them understand and retrain them and educate them – just like we would a resident,” Moreno explained.

Other residents of Phoenix say they don’t feel like it is a good idea to place the trash cans on the curb, even if they do understand the reasoning behind it. Cars drive too quickly and too close to the curbs, which could cause accidents and collisions with the cans.

Although nobody has been fined for improperly placing their cans, those who repeatedly have offences could be fined $150 to $1,000. Phoenix drivers should take caution when driving through residential areas with curbside cans. It is certainly the better solution over having disabled residents put their lives at risk by taking wheelchairs to the street.

Edgall encourages everyone to follow the trash pickup guidelines outlined by the city, and to be courteous of people in wheelchairs.

Story via CBS 5 AZ