The Little Things: Stripes on stop sign poles in Seattle

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
A stop sign in Seattle with white and red striping on the pole.
(Photos: Mike Dowd)

This post was written by reader Mike Dowd.

When I grew up in Seattle, stop signs had wood posts with red-and-white, candy cane-like stripes. Now they have metal poles, but they’re still striped. When I moved to Portland, I really missed them! It seemed dangerous without them.

When you approach an intersection in Seattle, the stripes immediately show you whether people entering the intersection from other directions must stop. In Portland, you have to look for the octagonal sign shape — not easy to see when you’re looking at the back of a sign across the intersection (maybe with a telephone or light pole in front of it), and almost impossible when looking at the narrow edge of a sign regulating cross traffic.

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Bulky storm drain filter bags obstruct bike lanes

These bags might have good intentions, but they are bad for bicycling.
(Photos courtesy readers Steve and Ben)

“He slammed into one of these, fell to the ground, and tore open a nasty gash in his elbow that required a number of stitches at the ER.”
— Steve N.

We have a precious small amount of high-quality, smooth, clean and dedicated space for cycling. That’s why when people willfully encroach and degrade that space, we feel the need to raise an alarm about it.

Case in point are these bags we often see placed around storm drains. The drains themselves are often hazards for bicycle riders: They have grooves that can catch tires and they’re often set below-grade — meaning your bike drops down when you go over them. Most people avoid riding over storm drains, even though they often take up a foot or two of what’s already a relatively narrow space for cycling.

Add these bulky bags — which are often called bio-bags — and you’ve got real hazard.

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The Little Things: A bike lane on NW 14th has disappeared

PBOT has now added this sign to NW 14th before Glisan to warn people of the hazard.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Little Things is a new column where we share (relatively) small problems — and little miracles — in our street network. Is there a little thing that makes your ride uncomfortable, annoying, inspiring, or exhilirating? Tell us about it and we’ll consider it for a future column.

The thing

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A few small things that make a big difference in Copenhagen

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Copenhagen Day 4-48-60

Riding in Copenhagen is so nice it’s even romantic.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One thing I’ve learned on this trip is that it’s possible to vastly improve the cycling experience without spending millions on big and fancy projects. As I go through my photos and notes from each day, I’ve started a list of all the little things Copenhagen does to make cycling comfortable and easy.

I think several of these ideas could be adopted and/or expanded on in Portland.

As we build more cycle tracks and protected bike lanes, we will have to figure out a way to sweep them. Copenhagen uses mini-sweepers to keep the cycle tracks clear of debris (they also have mini snow plows):

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