Bell ringers on bikes are a familiar sight in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Shulin District (樹林), but they may soon disappear amid security concerns and calls for better management of human resources.
The bell ringers are part of Shulin’s cleaning crew, riding around the district and ringing their bells to alert residents that the garbage truck is coming.
Hsu Chang-lin (許長林), chief of the district’s cleaning crew, said that some residents had expressed concern about the danger of having riders maneuvering their bicycles or scooters with one hand and ringing the bell with the other.
The concern is valid, Shulin’s cleaning crew said, because there have been incidents wherein crew members had been injured.
Some residents have also said that the practice showed poor management of limited manpower.
Following the suggestions, Shulin’s cleaning crew decided to start a trial of a new system next month — there will be no more bell ringers, who will instead help clean up in various boroughs around the district.
The crew said it would inform residents of the change in the system, and post a list of the time and places for garbage pickup.
Public response to the crew’s decision was mixed, with some expressing sadness at the end of a more than decade-old custom.
New Taipei City Councilor Ou Ching-shih (歐金獅) said that over the years, a bond has formed between residents and the crew members who go around the area alerting people that it is time to take out the garbage.
“Most residents have become accustomed to hearing the bells, followed by music from the garbage trucks,” Ou said, adding that for those living in alleys, it might be too late to take out the garbage by the time they hear the garbage truck’s music.
Several borough wardens said a system to replace bell ringers should be implemented to alert residents.
Hsu said that the city government’s Department of Environmental Protection would print and distribute flyers with information on where and when the garbage trucks would be passing.
He added that the trial period would be one month, and if the results are favorable, the bell ringers would be permanently abolished.