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Archive for February, 2012

The application is in.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, Sitka’s renewal application for another Bicycle Friendly Community designation was submitted to the League of American Bicyclists. That was two days before the Feb. 17 deadline.

Now comes the waiting part. We probably won’t hear back on whether or not we maintained our current bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community status (or improved our status) until May. The League of American Bicyclists typically announces its selections as part of its kick-off to National Bike Month (the month of May). The program has four levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), plus there is an Honorable Mention designation for communities that aren’t quite to the level of the other Bicycle Friendly Communities.

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition thanks the many people who helped us compile our application, including Lynne Brandon (McGowan) with the City and Borough of Sitka Department of Parks and Recreation; Bob Laurie, Marie Heidemann and Dave Luchinetti with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; Sitka Mayor Cheryl Westover (for the proclamation supporting our bid); Matthew Turner (who wrote our original application in 2008); Doug Osborne; the Sitka Police Department and others (sorry if we missed thanking you). This year’s application was written by Charles Bingham. A copy of our application is posted below as a PDF file.

• 2012 Sitka renewal application for Bicycle Friendly Community

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Kathryn Winslow (pictured here during a recent bike tour) will join Laura Kaltenstein to teach a basic bike maintenance class on Saturday, March 10, at the UAS-Sitka Campus

Kathryn Winslow (pictured here during a recent bike tour) will join Laura Kaltenstein to teach a basic bike maintenance class on Saturday, March 10, at the UAS-Sitka Campus

Riding a bike can be fun, but it’s not so fun when you get a flat tire, your chain gets stretched out or your rear derailleur malfunctions. Do you want to learn how to give your bike a spring tuneup?

Kathryn Winslow and Laura Kaltenstein will teach a bicycle maintenance class from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, at Room 115 of the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus. Kathryn and Laura will teach basic bike maintenance, from troubleshooting and adjusting your rear derailleurs to fixing a flat tire and replacing your brake pads. They also will teach you how to tune up your bike. Knowing how to fix your own bike not only will save you money, but it will ensure your bike is safe to ride.

“A broken bike is a boring bike,” Kathryn said. “Be the boss of your bike. Learn how to fix it if it breaks.”

Students are encouraged to register in advance for the class (a minimum of five students need to enroll for the class to be taught). Students should bring their bikes, tire irons, a chain gauge, chain lubricant and a bike tool set, if they have them.

The class, which is offered through the UAS Office of Continuing Education, Community Education and Professional Development, costs $59 and students can call 747-7762 or 1-800-478-6653, Ext. 7762, or they can go to http://www.uas.alaska.edu/sitka/coed to register. If the weather is nice, there possibly will be a group bike ride after the class.

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Daily Sitka Sentinel newspaper photographer James Poulson commutes by bike between photo assignments on Oct. 1, 2011.

Daily Sitka Sentinel newspaper photographer James Poulson commutes by bike between photo assignments on Oct. 1, 2011.

Sitka already was Alaska’s leading bike-to-work community, but the number of bike commuters took a big jump this past year.

According to the 2006-10 five-year American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and released last week, Sitka had 4.9 percent of its workers age 16 and older commute by bike. That is Alaska’s highest percentage of bike commuters for any community with more than 644 people. The American Community Survey estimated Sitka’s population at 8,894, with 4,753 workers age 16 or older and 233 bike commuters. Sitka also had a pedestrian commuter rate of 11.3 percent, giving Sitka 16.1 percent of its population who use non-motorized transportation to get to work (no stats were available for people who commute by kayak).

In the 2005-09 American Community Survey, Sitka had 2.87 percent of its workers commute by bike. That was the highest percentage for any Alaska community with more than 752 residents. The American Community Survey estimated Sitka’s population at 8,747, with 4,705 workers and 135 bike commuters.

Sitka’s 4.9 percent bike commuter rate is five times the state’s average of 0.98 percent, and nearly 10 times the national average of 0.51 percent. Sitka also ranks well ahead of Alaska’s other two Bicycle Friendly CommunitiesJuneau with 1.95 percent (331 bike commuters out of a population of 30,975 and 16,967 workers) and Anchorage with 1.04 percent (1,514 bike commuters out of a population of 284, 267 and 146,016 workers). The American Community Survey estimates Alaska has 3,269 bike commuters out of a population of 691,189 and 334,044 workers.

Bob Laurie, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, has compiled lists the past two years ranking communities around the state. In both lists, Sitka ranked 10th overall in Alaska. But all of the communities ahead of Sitka were much smaller. Bob cautions people that these numbers are estimates and Sitka’s margin of error in this survey is 50 percent (the bigger the population, the lower the margin of error). That means Sitka’s real number of bike commuters could be as low as 116 (2.44 percent) or as high as 350 (7.36 percent). He said the margin of error for the smaller communities can be as high as 100 percent due to the extremely small sample sizes.

“This is the second analysis of Alaska places that I’ve done using the ACS 5-yr data,” Bob said. “I haven’t sat down yet to look at them side-by-side.  One thing that does jump out is the general increase in the level of biking statewide, Sitka being a prime example: growing by about 100 people/day over last year. Part of the increase, I think, can be attributed to the fact that each year the U.S. Census Bureau conducts the survey, they get more data and are better able to refine their numbers. We also are seeing more people choose to bike or walk as gas prices, and the costs of living in general, grow higher. People not only are choosing modes such as biking and walking, but also are moving to locations closer to work so that biking and walking are more do-able.”

• 2006-10 American Community Survey bike commuter numbers for select Alaska communities

• 2005-09 American Community Survey bike commuter numbers for select Alaska communities

• Commuting in the United States: 2009; national commuting info from the American Community Survey

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Meeting topics include a final review of our renewal application for the Bicycle Friendly Community designation before it is submitted to the League of American Bicyclists in mid-February; a recap of the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration held on on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Crescent Harbor shelter; a recap of the state’s Jan. 18 public meeting about the planned Halibut Point Road construction project; getting started on planning for National Bike Month events in May; our new bike safety media campaign; and other items.

In May 2008, Sitka became the first community in Alaska to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Since Sitka received its bronze level BFC award, good for four years, Anchorage and Juneau also have received bronze awards. Several businesses in Alaska, including the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) have earned Bicycle Friendly Business designations from the League of American Bicyclists.

To learn more about our application process and what we need to be renewed as a Bicycle Friendly Community, please attend the meeting and/or watch this site. For more information, contact Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or doug.osborne@searhc.org, or contact Charles Bingham at 738-8875 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

• Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition meeting flier (feel free to print and post around town)

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