dougosbornechecksbackonridersbehindnearstartofrideThe Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Larkspur Café.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages.

Agenda items include a debriefing on the Kidical Mass family friendly bike ride held Saturday, Sept. 17, as part of the national Kidical Massive series of events around the country (details will be posted soon). This was our second Kidical Mass bike ride, with kids using pedal power to mix smoothies after the ride was finished. We also might discuss some of the bike-related community wellness project ideas introduced at the Sitka Health Summit on Oct. 21.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373.


Sitka Trail Works will hold its annual meeting and potluck dinner from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24, at the Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Members and trail enthusiasts are invited to the meeting and asked to bring a main dish, side dish, or dessert to share. Sitka Trail Works will supply beverages, paper plates, etc. Join us for an evening of fun and friendship.

Meeting highlights include a review of this year’s accomplishments, the election of one new board member, ceremonial matters, and a presentation by Matt Goff on the Natural History of Southeast Alaska.

For further information, please call Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244.

Sitka Health Summit Poster FINAL

newsitkahealthsummitlogoDo you have any good community wellness ideas for Sitka? It’s time 10th annual Sitka Health Summit planning day, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The Sitka Health Summit got its start in 2007 when then-Sitka Community Hospital CEO Moe Chaudry and then-SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton decided they needed to bridge the gaps between Sitka’s largest two health services. They launched the Sitka Health Summit, with the help of other supporters in Sitka, as a way to improve community wellness, honor local wellness champions, and more.

One of the highlights of the Sitka Health Summit has been the annual community wellness planning day. During planning day, Sitka residents get together to discuss the health needs of the community and create community wellness projects to address these needs.

Over the years there have been a variety of Sitka Health Summit projects — create a local market for local fish and produce, build a Sitka community greenhouse, become a Bicycle Friendly Community, become a Walk Friendly Community, encourage more kids and families to get outdoors for recreation, support a community health and wellness center (Hames), plant fruit trees around town, get more local fish into school lunches, build a Choose Respect mural, Revitalize Sitka, the Sick-a-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food AssessmentPark PrescriptionsTogether for a Meth-Free Sitka, the Sitka Kitch (a project to create a community rental kitchen and improve Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity), Celebrate Katlian Street: A Vibrant Community, and the Southeast Youth Resource Guide.

The 2015 Sitka Health Summit projects were to develop an American Disabilities Act-compliant Sitka Community Playground near Crescent Harbor, build a community garden plot behind the Island Institute (this started off as a project to build a community greenhouse on top of the Sitka cold storage plant, but it morphed into a different project), and to create a way to honor and support the well-being of elders in Sitka.

This year, Sitka residents are invited to submit community wellness project ideas before the Sitka Health Summit. They can do this by going to the Sitka Health Summit website, http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/, and clicking on the Submit Ideas link at the top of the gateway page (link opens a short SurveyMonkey survey). You also can submit ideas to Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or dosborne@sitkahospital.org. The top two projects this year will receive $2,000 in seed money to get the projects started.

To register for the Sitka Heath Summit planning day, call Zachary Desmond at 747-4600 or email him at zachary@braveheartvolunteers.org. In your email, please include your name, email address, phone number, organization (you can list self if you’re not representing an organization), and any food restrictions. A free lunch with locally sourced seafood (in honor of the Fish To Schools project from 2010) will be provided.


WalkToSchoolDay_HomepageMapNot too long ago, most of us walked or biked to school. But now, most kids arrive at school via their parents’ cars or school buses. Wednesday, Oct. 5, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren walk to school on this day.

In 1970, more than half of all elementary school students ages 6-11 walked to school. By 2006, only 15 percent were walking to school. Alarmed by this trend, a group called the Partnership for a Walkable America started National Walk To School Day in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. In addition to expanding into several other countries, the dates also have expanded and October is International Walk To School Month.

“Walking or biking to school is an excellent way to add some physical activity into your day,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion. “It can be a great way to start the day. Walking or biking can be a lot of fun. It’s also important to remember to be safe.”

WBTSD_12inch_ColorWalking or biking to school with their children is a good way for parents to catch up on what’s happening in their children’s lives. Other benefits to walking or biking to school include less traffic, cleaner air, and friendlier communities. Walking with their children is a good way for parents see if there are things along the route that can be done to improve safety, such as improving lighting, checking crosswalks and watching for aggressive pets along the route.

International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day is a great teaching tool for safety. Parents and teachers can teach the kids about road safety rules and the importance of being visible when they walk or bike alongside the roads. They also can check their kids’ clothes and backpacks to make sure they have reflective tape on them.

Reflectors Save Lives posterReflective tape is particularly important as we enter the dark months of the winter. Students need to Be Safe, Be Seen, and reflective tape can make a big difference in their visibility. Not only are kids sometimes hard to be seen because they’re blocked by cars, but many cars in Southeast Alaska experience condensation problems during the fall and winter that make it hard to see through windshields. Reflective tape and blinking lights can make it so kids are seen hundreds of feet before they would be if they wore plain dark clothes. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center’s pedestrian safety program will mail free reflective tape to people who call (907) 929-3939. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center also produced a YouTube video that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.

timeline-posts-walk-to-schoolTo learn more about International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, contact your local school to see if any events are scheduled, or check with the Alaska Safe Routes To School program. The official International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day website also has a lot of information about how to set up an event for your school, including tool kits to help you arrange an event. Even if your kids don’t walk the entire way to school, you can drop them off a mile or so away and walk in with them. Many parents create walking school buses to bring several students who live in the same area to school together in one group.


kidical_mass_signRaingear was the attire of the day, but the predicted storms held off long enough for Sitka to host a damp second Kidical Mass family oriented bike ride Saturday, Sept. 17.

This event, which drew about 30-40 riders, featured a ride of about 1.5 miles from the tennis courts/playground across from Sheldon Jackson Campus to the Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School covered playground area. It was held in conjunction with dozens of other Kidical Mass rides around the world, as Sept. 17 was declared Kidical Massive with the hope of having the biggest family bike ride ever, according to Kidical Massive organizers in Eugene, Ore.

Kidical Mass is a legal, safe and FUN bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. The first ride was held in 2008 in Eugene, Ore., and has now spread to dozens of communities throughout North America and beyond. Kidical Mass rides encourage safe riding for kids and families, with education about how to safely ride on the roads.

The Sitka Kidical Mass ride featured bike safety checks, bike helmet fitting (reminder, Sitka has a youth bike helmet ordinance with all riders age 18 or younger required to use a helmet), door prizes (including two traffic yellow rain jackets), bike skills events, and pedal-powered smoothies (where the blender was powered by a bike). In addition, Dave Nuetzel of Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) brought a handcycle to demonstrate how people with lower-leg issues can still ride a bike.

Local organizers included the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, 4-H, UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office, Sitka Conservation Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, the Rotary Club of Sitka, Alaska’s Sesquicentennial Commemoration, and Sitka Community Hospital.

A slideshow of scenes from the ride is posted below.

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kidical_mass_signCyclists of all ages are invited to join Sitka’s second “Kidical Mass” family bike ride, which is scheduled to start at the playground/tennis courts across from Sheldon Jackson Campus at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

The group will bike to Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, where there will be complimentary pedal-powered smoothies, door prizes (including high visibility coats) and fun activities. There also will be free bike safety checks and helmet-fitting before the ride starts, so get to the playground/tennis courts early.

Each participant will need a bike, a helmet (Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance for everybody age 18 or younger), and an adult to ride with. Kidical Mass events encourage family participation and teaching young riders bike safety on the road. We will have a few new helmets available for those who need them.

Kidical Mass is a legal, safe and FUN bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. The first ride was held in 2008 in Eugene, Ore., and has now spread to dozens of communities throughout North America and beyond. Kidical Mass rides encourage safe riding for kids and families, with education about how to safely ride on the roads.

Sept. 17 has been dubbed “Kidical Massive” by the Oregon organizers, who are calling for Kidical Mass rides in dozens of communities that they estimate will be the biggest global family bike ride ever. Last year, Sitka hosted its first Kidical Mass event as part of Kidical Massive, and you can see photos by clicking this link.

Local organizers include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, 4-H, UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office, Sitka Conservation Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, the Rotary Club of Sitka, Alaska’s Sesquicentennial Commemoration, and Sitka Community Hospital.  For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373.


Cyclists are allowed to ride in the road leading to the entrance of Sitka National Historical Park, but once inside the park they need to walk their bikes on the narrow trails.

SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignSitka National Historical Park has recently experienced an increase of individuals riding bicycles on park trails, which is a violation of park regulations. This situation causes a safety hazard for other park users hiking on the same trail system, especially due to the large number of walkers on the narrow trails.

The National Park Service reminds the public that it is prohibited to ride bicycles anywhere in the park, and that if a visitor on a bicycle wishes to enter the park, they must get off and walk the bicycle..

The majority of these violations appear to be occurring in the morning and evening hours as individuals commute to and from work or school. Rangers will be increasing their patrols for violators and will be taking the appropriate law enforcement action, which may include the issuance of a United States Violation Notice in the amount of $75.00.

The National Park Service recognizes and supports the upcoming “Bike Your Park Day” on Sept. 24, promoted by the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition locally and the Adventure Cycling Association nationally, but again would like to remind the community that any bicycles in Sitka National Historical Park must be walked.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about the Sitka National Historical Park at http://www.nps.gov/sitk or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaNationalHistoricalPark.