They dart into bushes, nibble their way in trash bags, or end up smashed and flattened on the pavement: Yes, Baltimore, you have a rat problem. The city has made various salvos in its war against the rodents, but as city residents could tell you, it seems like the rats might be winning. So far, at least.
Baltimore’s newest anti-rat effort is the introduction of 9,000 gigantic plastic trash cans on wheels. The idea is that if you just put your trash out on the corner in a trash bag, you’ve basically given the rodents a week’s worth of free food. While Baltimore has provided recycling bins for residents, this is the first time it’s tried giving out trash cans. One reason for that is the cost; if this pilot program is approved for extension to the whole city, it’ll cost about $10 million. The other big issue is theft. Judging from my own experience, there must be a thriving trash can-stealing ring out there; who knows why, but these trash cans do tend to disappear. To combat the theft problem, the city-issued bins will have tracking devices to prevent theft.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the cans cost about $40 each, are made of durable plastic, and are designed to stay upright on windy days. The cans were given out to residents of Belair-Edison and the greater Mondawmin area; if all goes well, expect to see the council make this a city-wide program. But, of course, things might not go well: “Rats around here eat the plastic. They’d have to be good plastic — gotta be thick,” Belair-Edison resident Alex Williamson told the Sun.