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Doug Osborne, front, wears one of the GAGE high-visibility jackets during the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration in January 2012. Sitka Community Hospital will distribute 18 of the high-visibility jackets to walkers and cyclists during an event Wednesday night at the Stratton Library.

Doug Osborne, front, leads cyclists during the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration in January 2012.

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Larkspur Café.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include the recent Bicycle Friendly Business award renewal for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and discussion of how we can get other Sitka businesses to apply, planning for the upcoming International Winter Bike to Work/School Day events on Feb. 10, and planning for a “Ride ‘Em All” program this summer to encourage cyclists to ride every road and trail in Sitka.

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

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The League of American Bicyclists on Dec. 21, announced that the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) has been awarded a renewal of its 2011 Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business award.

SEARHC is the only Alaska organization among the 42 new and returning businesses nationwide to earn an award during the Fall 2016 cycle. There now are 1,265 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in 49 states at the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze levels (there also is an Honorable Mention level not included in the total).

“This is great news!” SEARHC Health Educator II Anthony Treas said. “We are happy to have attained the Bronze status as a Bicycle Friendly Business. We will use this as a stepping stone as we continue to seek how we can improve and ultimately for SEARHC to achieve Gold status.”

bfb-bronze-sealSince the Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program started in 2009, there have been 11 businesses in Alaska to earn the honor. SEARHC is the only one of the group located outside of Anchorage. Besides SEARHC, the current BFBs in Alaska are — the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (gold), Southcentral Foundation (gold), CRW Engineering Group LLC (silver), ECI/Hyer Inc. (bronze), Green Star Inc. (bronze), Kittelson & Associates Inc.-Anchorage (bronze), Providence Alaska Medical Center (bronze), R&M Consultants Inc. (bronze), REI Anchorage (bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (honorable mention).

The Bicycle Friendly Business program honors those businesses committed to making their businesses more bike friendly for employees and customers. These organizations come from a wide range of industries, such as health care, manufacturing and government. They also range from large Fortune 50 company headquarters to small mom-and-pop businesses with only a handful of employees.

“As these businesses make bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation they play a vital role in transforming our nation into a safer, healthier and more sustainable place to live and work,” League of American Bicyclists Executive Director Alex Doty said. “We congratulate and thank this new round of businesses for leading the way in creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

The Bicycle Friendly Business program provides a free roadmap for businesses wanting to make their organizations more friendly to bikes. Businesses have to complete a lengthy application that includes information about the number of bike commuters, facilities available for them (such as racks, showers and lockers), education programs and ways the business connects with the local bicycle community.

SEARHC is Sitka’s largest employer with about 550-570 employees in town, and SEARHC is the region’s largest private employer with just more than 1,000 total employees. The SEARHC Sitka campus took an active role in Sitka’s 2008 application to become the first Bicycle Friendly Community in Alaska (Bronze), and also helped in Sitka’s 2012 (Bronze) and 2016 (Silver) renewal Bicycle Friendly Community applications. SEARHC promotes healthy and safe cycling to its employees and the community through its health promotion, injury prevention and employee wellness programs.

Winners of the Bicycle Friendly Business award are allowed to use the designation for the next four years. To learn more about the BFB program, go to http://bikeleague.org/business. Sitka businesses interested in applying can contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

The BFB program is part of the League of American Bicyclist’s larger Bicycle Friendly America program that also includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly University programs. Alaska now has three Bronze-level or higher Bicycle Friendly Communities — Sitka (Silver), Anchorage (Silver) and Juneau (Bronze), with Fairbanks earning an Honorable Mention designation in November 2016. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (Silver) is the only Bicycle Friendly University in the state. In 2015, Alaska ranked 41st in the Bicycle Friendly State rankings, up from 43rd in 2014.

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Larkspur Café.

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

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

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SitkaTrailWorksLogoSitka Trail Works, in partnership with the City and Borough of Sitka, is planning Phase 6 improvements to the Sitka Cross Trail system. A public meeting to receive comment on the project will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Detailed maps and information about this project will be shared at this meeting.

The Phase 6 project will build a new multi-use component of the Cross Trail system extending from the Harbor Mountain Road to Starrigavan. The public input received at the public meeting will be a major factor in determining the final trail alignment.

Questions about the project may be directed to Lynne Brandon of Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244 or trail@gci.net. Please send an email or written comments may be mailed to Sitka Trail Works at 801 Halibut Point Road, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. Comments need to be received by Dec. 14.

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Sharon Bergman of the Rotary Club of Sitka presents a check to Sitka Community Hospital CEO Rob Allen to purchase high-visibility reflective jackets that will be raffled off at various locations around Sitka.

Be Bright Poster 2016 [logo at bottom lowres]Getting around Sitka on foot or on bike is good for your health, and it’s good for the environment too. However it’s important that these activities be done safely.

Pedestrians — including people who travel by foot, wheelchair, stroller, or similar means —and cyclists are among the most vulnerable users of the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the next 24 hours, on average, 445 people in the U.S. will be treated in an emergency department for traffic-related pedestrian injuries. In 2012 alone 76,000 people were injured.

That’s why the Sitka Community Hospital, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Sitka, is launching the “Be Bright At Night 2.0” walking and biking visibility campaign.

Sitka can be dark especially in winter, and many of the bicycle and pedestrian fatalities happen in low visibility. Drivers can only stop or swerve for the people they see so having lights, reflectors and high visibility coats provides a great  protective factor.

Thanks to funds from the Rotary Club of Sitka, the Sitka Community Hospital will be raffling off high visibility coats at various locations throughout Sitka:

  • The Sitka Public Health Center at 210 Moller Drive,
  • Tongass Threads,
  • The White Elephant thrift shop (White E),
  • The Sitka Public Library,
  • The Hames Athletic and Wellness Center,
  • Swan Lake Senior Center,
  • The Salvation Army Little Store,
  • Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School,
  • KIFW-AM radio,
  • Blatchley Middle School,
  • Sitka Community Hospital, and
  • On the Sitka Chatters group on Facebook.

Having a coat that covers your whole upper body and can be seen from all sides is one way to be visible and stay seen as you walk the family dog, bike home from work or go for a stroll anywhere near cars. The upgraded Gage high-visibility rain coats, which were purchased at a discounted price from Murray Pacific, have reflective strips built into the jackets.

For more information on the “Be Bright at Night” campaign, contact Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion Doug Osborne at 747-0373.

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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.

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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.