Houston

Houston will let you name the city’s new mini-street sweeper

The mini street sweeper, approved by the Houston City Council in June, is expected to arrive this fall and will be used to clean bicycle lanes and other amenities in the city’s rights-of-way.

Mini Street Sweeper
Houston Public Works
Houston Public Works is holding a naming contest for a miniature street sweeper that will be used to clean bicycle lanes and other amenities in the city’s rights-of-way.

The City of Houston is getting a miniature street sweeper it can use to clean up bicycle lanes and other small spaces where the rest of its fleet cannot fit.

Residents have the opportunity to name the new piece of machinery before it reaches the road.

Houston Public Works launched a “Name the Sweeper Contest” Monday at engagehouston.org. Registered website users can submit names through Sept. 6, at which point the department will select four finalists and allow Houstonians to vote in a poll on social media.

Department spokesperson Erin Jones said she manages Houston Public Works’ social media accounts and ran with a suggestion made by local cyclists. She said the city’s bike community pushed the Houston City Council to approve the purchase of the skinny street sweeper in June, so it could be used to help maintain Houston’s expanding network of bike lanes.

“The bike community was so excited about this, they kind of joked on social media that we should name it,” Jones said. “I was like, ‘You know what? Why don't we name it?’ “

The response online already has been robust, with more than 50 name suggestions having been made as of 4 p.m. Monday. Among the ideas are “Sweep in the Heart of Texas,” “George Brush” and “Megan Thee Sweeper.”

Jones said submissions must be family-friendly and free of vulgarities, insults and disrespectful terms, otherwise they will be removed from the website and not considered for the contest. There will be no prize associated with winning the contest, although the selected name might end up being emblazoned on the Madvac LS175, which is still under construction and expected to arrive sometime this fall, according to Jones.

The city council authorized spending nearly $147,000 on the street sweeper, which will not be used solely for bike lanes. Jones said it also figures to be used to clean pedestrian refuge islands that have been installed around the city and at small event spaces as well.

“This is a long-overdue need that the city is finally addressing,” said Joe Cutrufo, the executive director of cycling advocacy nonprofit BikeHouston. “Now that we know that the sweeper is on its way here and should be in service within the next few months, it's a relief to know that the bike lanes that we have spent millions to build are finally going to be properly maintained.”

The gas-powered machine likely will not be used to sweep sidewalks, according to Jones, because private property owners are responsible for maintaining the pieces of sidewalk in front of their homes or businesses, per city ordinance. Similarly, the city considers most of its alleys to be private property.

“It’s for areas where our big sweepers can’t reach,” Jones said.

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