Park watch, glass watch, butt watch
Jeez. The other day, during a bicycle ride from the CN&R office to south Chico and back, I dodged (not always successfully) six large patches of broken glass strewn across the near-curb section of asphalt where bicycles have to travel.
This reminded me of how many times in recent weeks I have ridden along stretches of street—especially near downtown and in south Chico—covered with minefields of brown, green and clear bits of broken bottles that I’ve had to negotiate, often while pulling a child in a trailer. It’s especially bad after a weekend. I’ve been lucky so far—my bike seems to have pretty tough tires.
What is up, folks? Do you really have to bust a bunch of beer bottles on the road just for the hell of it? I’m sure it’s fun to get your aggression out after a hard week by shattering bottles on the pavement (and the sound is probably really exciting, right?), but can you take it somewhere else, please? How about your own driveway, which you’ll have to clean up when you get tired of walking on shards of glass? Or, better yet, as my cyclist friend Joel pointed out, why not just recycle? Give bike riders a break!
The city of Chico is seeking volunteers for its Park Watch program; members patrol Bidwell Park on foot, bike or horse, acting as “ambassadors of the park by providing visitors with information and assistance, and advising park staff about damage, hazards, vandalism and other safety concerns,” according to a recent press release.
The annual Park Watch training will take place in two parts—on March 10, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., in Conference Room 1 of the City Council chambers building (421 Main St.), and March 12, from 10 a.m.-noon, at the park’s One-Mile Recreation Area.
Those interested in volunteering must be at least 18 years old, be able to volunteer four hours per month, pass a background check, and complete the training as well as a one-hour walk-along with a trained Park Watch volunteer.
Be on the lookout in the month of March for Chico’s own “gutter awareness girl” (as she playfully calls herself), Jennifer Oman-Payne. Oman-Payne, who works as storm-water management education and outreach coordinator for the city of Chico, will be dressed as a giant cigarette butt and handing out pocket ashtrays to patrons of such smoker-frequented places as bars and cafés. The small, reusable, foil-lined ashtray—which resembles a coin purse—is designed to easily extinguish butts and keep the smell off of clothing until the user can find a suitable place to empty it. Oman-Payne’s goal is to reduce the number of cigarette butts tossed onto the ground that then often make the trip from gutter to storm drain to local creeks.
“The cigarette butt issue is really bad,” said Oman-Payne. “Most people wouldn’t throw a piece of trash on the ground, but there’s a disconnect when it comes to cigarette butts. And a cigarette butt is toxic litter—toxic for wildlife and water quality.”