Attack of the Yardys: Carts are winning -- and people have scars to prove it
By Sue Davis Smith
The Gazette
Saturday, April 12, 2003, 1:58:05 PM
In the battle between humans and the Yardy -- a 95-gallon yard-waste cart -- let it be known that Yardy almost always wins.
With Cedar Rapids residents going into their second spring with the Yardy, some are finding out the hard way that it can be downright dangerous. Several local people have suffered lacerations in altercations with Yardy, mostly because the heavy-duty cart was moved with the lid dangling open.
The city provides Yardys to homeowners. Aware of the problems, the Cedar Rapids Solid Waste and Recycling Department recently distributed to homeowners a hot-pink door hanger, reminding people that the Yardy lid should be closed before it's moved.
"We thought it would be prudent to get the word out to customers prior to the start of spring cleanup," says Mark Jones, department director.
George Klinkhammer of Cedar Rapids got one of those reminders, but he still ended up at Mercy Medical Center's emergency room after a recent afternoon of yardwork. Klinkhammer was raking leaves and pushing the Yardy until the Yardy didn't move.
"So I gave it a push and the wheels went out and I went inside," says Klinkhammer, 75, who ended up with 10 stitches.
He sums up his experience this way: "Old man gets in fight with Yardy and loses. Yardy came out OK."
He's not the only one who tangled with a Yardy and lost. Jean Bell of Cedar Rapids was cleaning leaves out of her tulip bed in late March when the Yardy tipped over and hit her. It took more than 30 stitches to close her head wound.
"When I went to the emergency room, I thought I was the only nitwit to have an injury like this, and I was told I wasn't the only one," says Bell, 54. 
Since then, Bell, who works at the Drug Town on Mount Vernon Road, has heard numerous "horror" stories about people and their Yardys. She says she's especially worried about the elderly.
Barbara Murphy of Cedar Rapids was hanged by her Yardy last spring. She was pushing the cart in her back yard when it began to roll down hill. Murphy ended up with her feet in the lid and her body hung up on the edge of the barrel.
"My legs were inside the lid, and my arms were too short to reach the ground. I rocked back and forth until I fell off. I sprained my thumb, and I looked like someone had strangled me. All that came to mind was, if I died, I'd probably get the Darwin award," Murphy says.
Jones says he's received calls -- "less than a dozen" -- from people who've had run-ins with the yard cart. Almost all of the incidents happened, he says, because the cart was moved with the lid open.
"When you move the cart, you take the handle and tilt it back, the lid hangs lower and your toes hit the cart, preventing you from moving forward," he says.
"...The next thing you know you're lying on the ground with a laceration."
The simplest solution to preventing such injuries, Jones says, is to close the lid. Pulling the cart also may be easier than pushing it. A smaller Yardy (65 gallons) is also available for the elderly or disabled.
Jones says 80 percent of the population is using the Yardy correctly. Beyond the printed reminder on each cart's lid on how to use it and the door hangers, he's not sure what else can be done.
"I can't do everyone's yardwork," he says good-naturedly.
All local content copyright  2003 by The Gazette Company, Cedar Rapids, Iowa