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BIKE GIVEN – Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge members, from left, Tom Brown, Jack Ozment,  and Ken Creamer present third-grader Dalila Callahan, 9, with a new bicycle recently at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. The Masons are giving a bicycle to one student in each third grade class at the school. Third-grade teachers are selecting the recipients based on students’ behavior in class and display of good citizenship. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop donates a lock and helmet to the winner. (Daily Sitka SentinelPhoto by James Poulson)

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, 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.

Cyclists and pedestrians who commute in low visibility are invited to a special “Be Safe, Be Seen” gathering from 6-6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Stratton Library (the temporary Kettleson Memorial Library) located on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

Complimentary high-visibility jackets will be given to the first 18 ambassadors who attend the meeting and join the new club. The popular GAGE jackets, by Grunden’s USA, were purchased, at a generous discount from Murray Pacific, with grant money the Sitka Community Hospital received from the State of Alaska Injury Prevention section.

dougosbornediscussesbikeprojects“These jackets are the best and brightest, they cover your whole upper body, provide 360-degree visibility and they don’t require batteries,” Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion Doug Osborne said.

In addition to receiving new first-come, first-served jackets, participants will get a fact sheet, hear two important stories, see a short video, and brainstorm ideas for the official and unofficial greeting, handshake and slogan for the new club, also known as the high-visibility posse (HVP). After the short presentation, participants will take a group photo on the Sheldon Jackson Campus lawn spelling out the words, “when you’re out at night, be extra bright” or if fewer people show up, “WE’RE SAFE.”

“Every evening we have people walking and cycling in low visibility and in dark clothes,” Osborne said. “It’s risky, it’s contributed to injuries and we need to start a new trend now. We are gaining daylight, but visibility is still an issue, especially when it’s overcast and rainy.”

Osborne said one reason Sitka Community Hospital is sponsoring the promotion is the recent bike-vehicle crash that sent a 15-year-old cyclist to Seattle for a month of hospitalization (the cyclist was not wearing a high-visibility jacket). He said the hospital also plans another, larger Be Safe, Be Seen promotion in October, when it starts to get darker again.

In addition to wearing high-visibility jackets, such as the 18 that will be given away on Wednesday, cyclists are reminded that state law requires them to have a solid white light capable of reaching 500 feet on the front of their bike, and a red tail light (blinking or solid) or red reflector on the back that is visible from 100-600 feet away by a car with headlights set at low beam. People who walk and bicycle also are encouraged to put reflective tape on their jackets, backpacks, the sides of their bikes, rain pants, etc., to help increase their visibility when it’s dark.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at the Sitka Community Hospital, 747-3752 or 2011 National Bike to Work Spokesperson Bill Giant, 752-7049.

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A home on Jeff Davis Street, near the Sheldon Jackson Campus and Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, has a pump in front of it offering free air for bikes. Have any Sitka cyclists taken advantage of this free air pump?

 

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Seven lucky Sitka cyclists won door prizes for riding their bikes during International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 13. We didn’t have any snow on the ground, but the morning of Feb. 13 we had sideways rain from 40-knot wind gusts, which is about as close to winter as Sitka’s had this year.

The lucky cyclists were:

WinterBikeToWorkDay2015FlierDuring International Winter Bike To Work Day, Sitka cyclists who rode their bikes to work, school, or even for errands or a pleasure ride on Feb. 13 could enter a free drawing held at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop. Sitka cyclists also were encouraged to register their rides on the International Winter Bike To Work Day website. We had 25 cyclists enter at Yellow Jersey (and a lot more people ride who didn’t enter), but only eight who logged their rides in on the website. That means Sitka probably won’t do as well in the international standings as we did last year (we had the second-highest per-capita number of riders in 2014, trailing only Oulu, Finland).

The final stats are still being compiled for the international event, which saw a lot more participation than in its first two years. Early returns had Zagreb, Croatia, being the city with the most riders, followed by Oulu, Finland, in second place, St. Petersburg, Russia, in third place, and Montréal, Quebec, Canada, and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, tied for fourth place. Anchorage was in 10th place, but the early results were posted before the day ended on the West Coast of North America. Sitka only had eight cyclists register on the website, but still matched or beat the totals of several large cycling cities such as Portland, Ore., Denver, Colo., and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (it’s difficult looking at the map to tell if a rider is logged in for the city or one of its suburbs).

Something to note for 2016, there will be an International Winter Bike To School Day on the same day as International Winter Bike To Work Day.

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BIKE GIVEN – Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge members Darrell Windsor, left, and Jack Ozment, right, present third-grader Kadin Davis, 9, standing with his father, Jeff, with a new bicycle recently in Stephanie Peterson’s class at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. The Masons are giving a bicycle to one student in each third grade class at the school. Third-grade teachers are selecting the recipients based on students’ behavior in class and display of good citizenship. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop donates a lock and helmet to the winner. (Daily Sitka SentinelPhoto by James Poulson)

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It’s the time of year when it is dark outside as students are waiting for the bus and walking or riding their bikes to and from school. While short days are something we’re all accustomed to in Alaska, evolution has not helped our ability to see any better in the dark.

Almost everyone of with a license to drive has probably driven by a child on a darkened street at some point, and said to themselves with a feeling of relief, “I almost didn’t see that kid!” In fact, most drivers need a minimum distance of 260 feet in order to stop in time to miss something on the road; more if the road is slick. If a child in the roadway is wearing dark clothing, a driver’s reaction time is greatly reduced – allowing just 55 feet to stop after seeing the child. Even wearing white clothing gives drivers a mere 180 feet of reaction time – not enough to avoid an accident or quite possibly a catastrophe.

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Injury Prevention Team wants to let everyone know that taking precautions does not mean avoiding the walk to school or the wait at the bus stop, but there are some simple ways to make children safer while doing both. It’s as easy as adding reflective tape or buying clothes with built-in reflectives to help children “Be Safe, Be Seen.” Wearing reflective gear allows children to be seen from 500 feet away.

Purchasing all new coats, jackets and backpacks with built-in reflective gear may not make financial sense, but reflective tape is very inexpensive and easy to apply and remove from clothing. Once you obtain the reflective tape, remember to place reflective tape on all sides of the child’s jacket — the front, back, both sides and along both arms. You should also apply reflective tape to backpacks, book bags and your child’s bike frame. As an added bonus when you’re finished, turn off the lights and shine a flashlight on the tape to show your kid how cool it looks.

For more information, please visit the Injury Prevention section of the SEARHC website, http://www.searhc.org/services/health-promotion/injury-prevention. Free reflective tape may be requested from the SEARHC Injury Prevention Team by contacting Lesa Way at 966-8804 or lesaw@searhc.org.

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WinterBiketoWorkDay2015Sitka cyclists are hardy souls, and many of us ride our bikes all year round, not just in the summer. Now Sitka cyclists can ride and win prizes by participating in International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 13.

This is the third year of International Winter Bike To Work Day, which started when several communities in Canada challenged each other to see which one could have the highest number of bike commuters. Last year the event expanded, and Sitka and Anchorage hosted events along with several other communities around the world’s polar regions. Sitka ended up having the second-highest number of participants per capita, trailing only Oulu, Finland. We also were the smallest community to have at least 20 participants.

Our celebration of winter cycling in Sitka will be simple. First, go to the International Winter Bike To Work Day website, http://winterbiketoworkday.org/, and commit to riding to work or school on Friday, Feb. 13 (people who work at home can use a bike ride for errands or sport as their bike commute). Then, on Friday, Feb. 13, during your bike commute, stop by the Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop (329 Harbor Dr.) between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to enter your name and phone number in a contest to win prizes.

We encourage all cyclists to be safe in their rides. They should wear helmets, wear bright reflective clothes, and have working solid white headlights in front and blinking red taillights in back. They also should follow all rules of the road, such as riding on the right side of the road (not on the sidewalk) and stopping at all stop lights/stop signs.

We are still gathering door prizes, and businesses or people wanting to donate door prizes to the event can contact Charles Bingham at 738-8875 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com for more information. We are looking for items such as gloves, reflective safety vests, water bottles, helmets, etc., although some businesses donated gift cards or non-biking and non-winter items last year.

Cyclists in the 2012 Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration ride on Harbor Drive underneath the O'Connell Bridge.

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