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MollGirlWithBalloons

A young cyclist with her strider bike gets ready for the Sitka Community Bike Ride in May 2015.

Children ages 3 and older who have never ridden a bike before are invited to a learn-to-ride bike clinic sponsored by Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Community Schools. The clinic takes place from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, under the covered area at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

This workshop is for children who are on training wheels, using a strider bike, have never ridden before, or are just learning to ride and want more confidence. Each participant will need a bike, a helmet (Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance for everybody age 18 or younger), and an adult to help them. The cost is $5 per child and $5 per adult.

For more information or to register, please call Sitka Community Schools at 747-8670.

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10-24-13-Edgecumbe-Drive-sign-e1382728578427The Edgecumbe Drive Reconstruction Project is nearly ready for paving and completion, according to a Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, cover story in the Daily Sitka Sentinel (note, password required to view story on website). The article also highlighted the safer biking and walking facilities on the mile-long stretch of road, which include safer crosswalks, a multi-use path, and Sitka’s second roundabout (or third, if you count the one around St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral).

The project includes a new 10-foot-wide multi-use path on one side of the street for pedestrians and cyclists. The path is intended to provide a safe route for slow-moving bikes and pedestrians to travel. Edgecumbe Drive’s proximity to Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School was a major driver in the decision to provide this pedestrian amenity.

The new separated multi-use path replaces a narrow bike path on the downhill side of the roadway. The now-10-foot-wide path, which uses space from the narrowed traffic lanes, will be shared by cyclists and walkers.

“We didn’t like it because it encouraged wrong-way bike travel,” David Longtin, senior engineer with the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department, told the Sentinel. “People wanted to use the bike path, but when they were heading north then they were on the wrong side of the road, and that’s something we wanted to eliminate.”

City and state law require bicyclists to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, for safety reasons. Walkers are to walk on the left side of the road, opposing traffic, when there isn’t a sidewalk or multi-use path available. Cyclists traveling at traffic speed can use the road, but should ride on the right side.

Longtin said paving on the path may start as soon as Saturday, if weather cooperates. Paving the main road will follow after the path is completed. Longtin told the Daily Sitka Sentinel that the construction crews can pave about 150 linear feet per hour, so the whole street should be paved within a week, depending on the weather.

Another new feature is a roundabout near the top of Kimsham Street, near where Edgecumbe Drive, Washusetts, Kimsham, and private driveway meet. The roundabout was added to the plans about a month ago, and it replaces the five-way intersection originally in the plans. While there is some increased cost ($140,000 to the $4.6 million project), Longtin said the roundabout will be a safer alternative. Roundabouts reduce collisions by 37 percent and fatal wrecks by 90 percent compared to intersections controlled by stop signs, according to Federal Highway Administration studies.

“It’ll cost some, but we feel it’ll be a good safety improvement and it’ll keep traffic moving,” Longtin said. “There’s fewer collisions and when there is a collision it’s more of a glancing blow than a t-bone collision.”

Other safety improvements from the project include bulb-outs at the Edgecumbe Drive crosswalks near Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School (which narrow the traffic lanes near intersections to slow cars and make it a shorter distance for pedestrians to cross), and rectangular rapid-flash beacons to to warn drivers of the crosswalk. There also will be buttons on all four corners of the intersection that will light the beacons so drivers know somebody is about to use the crosswalk. These traffic lights are powered by solar panels designed for Sitka’s latitude and light conditions.

Sitka's Bill Giant, foreground, completes a bike-handling drill recently as instructor Shane McRhodes of Eugene, Ore., watches in the background. (Photo by Doug Osborne)

Sitka’s Bill Giant, foreground, completes a bike-handling drill recently as instructor Shane MacRhodes, who is the Safe Routes To School program manager in Eugene, Ore., stands in the background. (Photo by Doug Osborne)

Two Sitka bicycle advocates — Doug Osborne and Bill Giant — recently completed a 2 1/2-day Alaska Bike ‘n’ Walk Safely training program in Anchorage.

The program was taught by instructors with the League Certified Instructor (LCI) credential from the League of America Bicyclists. Completing the training, which included such classes as Traffic Skills 101, means Doug and Bill are better qualified to teach bike safety classes in Sitka.

They recently hosted a summer bike camp for students in grades 3-6, and plan to offer classes through Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Community Schools this year.

 

Graduates of the first-ever “Bike Camp” gather at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School after completing a slowest-bike race. Campers going into grades 3-6 learned the basics of cycling safely in Sitka. The inaugural bike camp was a partnership between Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Community Schools. (Photos courtesy of Wendy Fowler)

Graduates of the first-ever “Bike Camp” gather at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School after completing a slowest-bike race. Campers going into grades 3-6 learned the basics of cycling safely in Sitka. The inaugural bike camp was a partnership between Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Community Schools. (Photos courtesy of Wendy Fowler)

Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Community Schools recently hosted the first-ever bike camp for students going into grades 3-6. The hands-on camp took place on Monday-Thursday, Aug. 3-6, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

Instructors Doug Osborne and Bill Giant, worked with students on the basics of safe and effective cycling in Sitka. Group rides happened every day. Campers needed a bicycle and helmet. (Sitka General Code requires helmets for all bike riders age 18 or younger.)

During the camp, the 13 participants had their bikes and helmets inspected for safety, learned about basic bike maintenance, and then learned basic bike safety skills. They also had group rides to the Moller Field track, Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, and along Cross Trail. Osborne said response to the camp was positive, and he hopes there will be two week-long camps next summer.

A slideshow of photos (courtesy of Wendy Fowler) is posted below.

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Bike Summit August 2015

Are you looking for an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge on bike safety for riders of all ages in a fun, hands-on environment? This is not your usual sit-down, take notes kind of training. Instead, it is a mixture of seminar presentations and actual bike riding to learn, and be able to teach, riding skills.

The Alaska Bike ‘n’ Walk Safely Program is sponsoring a 2 1/2-day cycling safety educational and training program on Aug. 13-15 in Anchorage. Travel, hotel and per diem scholarships are available for the attendees who live outside a 50-mile radius of Anchorage, as well as bike rentals for those arriving via air.

“Our goal is to promote bicycle safety for riders of all ages through the use of education, hands-on practice, increased awareness of helmet use, and after the training, dissemination of the information in the attendee’s city of residence,” Alaska Bike ‘n’ Walk Safely Program Manager Reneé Rudd said. “We are looking for people interested in this training from all walks of life, and from communities throughout Alaska.”

The program will be facilitated by cycling safety instructors who are League of American Bicyclists-certified instructors. Attendees will be instructed on how to properly fit a bike helmet, learn traffic-, urban- and trail-riding skills, how to ride in groups, bike safety teaching skills, lesson plans/drills information and be advised of state laws.

This training will assist the attendee in developing a local community event. Examples of events are bike rodeos, bike-to-school events and cycling exercise groups.

Each attendee will be provided a “toolkit” of items that can be used for their community event. Items may include reflective zipper pulls, coloring-comic books, posters, paper punches, decorative scissors and additional bike safety items. In addition to the toolkit, technical assistance will be available, as well as helmets upon request.

If interested in this training, please respond to Reneé Rudd  (754-3421) at renee.rudd@alaska.gov or Jo Fisher (269-3489) at jo.fisher@alaska.gov. Please include your full name, community, employer, email address, phone number and a very brief description of job duties.

Up to 15 scholarships are available for attendees residing outside a 50-mile radius of Anchorage, and a total of 30 registrants will be accepted. Don’t delay, this is a first-come, first-served training opportunity for you and your organization. As of July 19, there still were a couple of travel scholarships available, so let’s get someone from Sitka to this training.

This event is sponsored by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health Injury Prevention Program and the Alaska Highway Safety Office.

KidWithSchoolRackFullOfBikes

Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Community Schools are partnering to bring the first-ever bike camp for students going into grades 3-6.

The hands-on camp will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Monday-Thursday, Aug. 3-6, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

Instructors Doug Osborne and Bill Giant, will work with students on the basics of safe and effective cycling in Sitka. Group rides will happen every day. Campers need a bicycle and helmet. (Sitka General Code requires helmets for all bike riders age 18 or younger.)

For more information or to register, please contact Twila Keaveny at Sitka Community Schools at 747-8670.

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SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignHave you noticed little brown boxes on some of Sitka National Historical Park’s trailside signs?

The park recently installed four traffic counters along the park’s scenic trails. The trail counters are not cameras, they simply provide park managers with an accurate count of the number of people who recreate on the park’s trails. This information is used for annual reporting requirements, budgeting purposes, and maintenance requests.

The original counters were installed in 2014 without protection cases, but were damaged by vandals and the weather.  The counters and their batteries are now encased in brown boxes to protect them from the elements, specifically rain.

Also, a reminder to all cyclists that people are to walk their bicycles through the park trails, not ride them. This is for safety reasons, as there are many elders and children hiking on the trails who may not hear the bikes coming up behind them. In addition, the restriction on biking helps prevent erosion and other damage to the trails. And a reminder that metal detectors are prohibited in all national parks, including Sitka National Historical Park.

Since 2011, there have been no fees collected at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center, which includes the cultural center where Native carving is demonstrated. The only fees are at the Russian Bishop’s House, which uses this fee schedule.

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