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City Releases 2019 Mechanical Broom Street Cleaning Evaluation

PHILADELPHIA — City officials today released the 2019 Mechanical Broom Street Cleaning Evaluation, a comprehensive report and review of the 2019 pilot program operated in six different neighborhoods. The Streets Department partnered with GovLabPHL, a multi-agency intergovernmental team led by the Mayor’s Policy Office to increase the practical use of data and evidence to make informed decisions through research and evaluation of the 2019 pilot.

This report assessed both the implementation and the impact of the mechanical street cleaning pilot in the six areas. Many of the residents surveyed in the pilot areas expressed seeing a positive difference in the cleanliness of their block before and during the pilot. Findings from the evaluation are as follows:

  1. Trash Collected and Miles Traveled: Overall, the amount of trash collected per day decreased, suggesting cleaner streets. In addition, the miles traveled by mechanical brooms per day increased, suggesting cleaner streets and increased efficiency.
  2. Resident Satisfaction: More than 96 percent of residents in each pilot area supported expanding the program across the city, with 78 percent of them recommending the continued sweeping frequency of weekly. 92 percent of residents also supported using the newly implemented backpack blowers to assist in moving dirt and debris along the curb. 91 percent supported moving their vehicles, making it easier for the mechanical brooms to sweep. This represents more than 2,000 resident surveys collected by door-to-door outreach.
  3. Litter Index Distribution: The average Litter Index rating declined in both pilot and neighbor areas. It declined more in pilot areas than the neighbor areas, indicating more litter in pilot areas. Due to the limited data available, the study was not able to distinguish if these results are due to citywide changes or the pilot.

The Streets Department plans to use the data and recommendations in the report to improve the program moving forward. As part of the 2020 program, mechanical cleaning will be expanded to new neighborhoods and in some areas cars will be required to move during sweeping operations. Full details of the 2020 program will be announced this Spring.

The 2019 Mechanical Broom Street Cleaning Pilot was designed and implemented by the Sanitation Division within the Streets Department, and a budget of $2.3 million was allocated by the City’s Budget Office in 2019. The pilot was conducted from April 2019 to November 2019 with the goal of improving litter and trash conditions. The City used the Philadelphia Litter Index Tool to help identify neighborhoods to include in the pilot. Neighborhoods that had an average litter rating above 2.0 indicated a significant amount of litter, and were included in the pilot.