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Archive for May, 2012

(This photo and caption appeared on Page 5 in the Monday, May 21, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

BIKE PRESENTED – Jack Ozment, left, of the Sitka Mount Verstovia Masonic Lodge, recently presented a new bicycle to Izaac Roth in Jennifer Davis’ third-grade class at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. Jennifer chose Izaac to receive the bicycle based on the good citizenship she displayed in class. The lodge has donated one bicycle to a student in each third grade class in the school. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop owner Bill Hughes, second from left, presented Izaac with a helmet and lock donated by his shop as part of the prize. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

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(This photo and caption appeared on Page 1 in the Wednesday, May 16, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

NO MORE TRAINING WHEELS: Aliyah Overturf, age 7, watches as volunteer bicycle mechanic Ryan Kauffman removes the training wheels from her bicycle during the Sitka Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka hangar. The Sitka Bike Rodeo is an annual event hosted by the Sitka Rotary Club and U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka. Children had their bicycles tuned up and registered with the police during the event. The sponsors also hosted an obstacle course and taught bicycle safety. The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Injury Prevention Program also provided free and low-cost bike helmets for kids. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson)

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In 2008, Sitka became the first Alaska community to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community award. On Monday, May 14, Sitka became the first Alaska community to earn a renewal of its Bicycle Friendly Community designation.

With Monday’s national announcement to kick off National Bike to Work Week, Sitka maintained its bronze level designation in the Bicycle Friendly Community program run by the League of American Bicyclists. Sitka now is one of three recognized communities in Alaska (Anchorage earned a BFC designation in 2009 and Juneau in 2011, also at the bronze level). There currently are 214 communities in 47 states with Bicycle Friendly Community designations (at the platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels). Sitka’s award is good for four years, expiring in February 2016.

“Sitka is pleased to once again receive recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community and the first city in Alaska to be a repeat recipient,” Sitka Mayor Cheryl Westover said. “Thanks to the many Sitkans who actively support bicycling.”

“This is great news and a great time to thank everyone involved in helping us reach this Sitka Health Summit goal,” said Doug Osborne, who coordinates the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition. “Just the other day, I heard a visitor say how neat it was to see all the people in Sitka who are getting around on bikes. I have to agree, because there so many benefits that come from biking and being a bicycle-friendly town. I’m grateful to everyone who helped us get this designation and the positive national attention that comes with it.”

Sitka first applied for the Bicycle Friendly Community program as one of the community health priority projects chosen during the 2007 Sitka Health Summit, and it was the first project completed. The 2011 Sitka Health Summit supported renewing Sitka’s status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The 2012 Sitka Health Summit takes place on Oct. 3-6 at a variety of locations around Sitka. Over the past five years, the Sitka Health Summit resulted in high-profile projects such as starting the Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens in Sitka, supporting the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, bringing local businesses and insurance companies together to promote employee wellness programs, the Choose Respect mural about domestic violence prevention, planting fruit trees in Sitka and the award-winning Fish to Schools project.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition poses with one of the Bicycle Friendly Community signs Sitka will be hanging around town. Doug is in the bike shelter at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) At Kaník Hít Community Health building in Sitka. SEARHC's Sitka Campus has a Bicycle Friendly Business designation.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition poses with one of the Bicycle Friendly Community signs Sitka will be hanging around town. Doug is in the bike shelter at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) At Kaník Hít Community Health building in Sitka. SEARHC’s Sitka Campus has a Bicycle Friendly Business designation.

“First and foremost, thanks to the bicycle commuters who are now riding to work at almost 10 times the national average,” Osborne said. “Secondly, thanks to the courteous motorists who are sharing the road. And lastly, thanks to all the groups, workplaces, schools, shops and individuals who have made various contributions over the years.”

In the application feedback form provided by the League of American Bicyclists, Sitka received high marks for its number of regular bike commuters (4.9 percent, nearly 10 times the national average and five times the state average), Sitka’s promotion of National Bike Month events in May, the Share-the-Road and Be Safe Be Seen education campaigns, cycling workshops, the low number of motor vehicle/bicyclist crashes (only eight in five years reported to Sitka Police), and for several unique cycling events. The Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka’s largest employer, earned a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business designation in September 2011.

“One of the things that impressed our reviewers about Sitka is the one-of-a-kind local biking events, like the Winter Cycling Celebration,” said Bill Nesper, Vice President of Programs for the League of American Bicyclists. “Events like this really help people see that biking is a great way to get around for transportation and recreation all year round.”

In order to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community designation, communities have to complete an application that covers five main focus areas called The Five E’s — Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation/Planning. There are more than 100 questions in the application, asking everything from how many miles of bike lanes to how many schools participate in the Safe Routes To School program. Communities also are asked about their biking or non-motorized transportation plans and how they are meeting their goals.

Monday’s announcement saw 49 communities earn new, improve or maintain current Bicycle Friendly Community designations. The Bicycle Friendly Community program is part of the larger Bicycle Friendly America program that includes Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University designations. In addition to the League of American Bicyclists, the Bicycle Friendly America program is supported by Bikes Belong and Trek Bicycle’s One World Two Wheels Campaign.

“We aren’t surprised that this was the largest number of new and renewing applicants that we’ve ever had,” League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke said. “The popularity of this program is clear evidence that simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development.”

• Feedback for Sitka’s 2012 Bicycle Friendly Community application

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The 28th running, biking and swimming of the Julie Hughes Triathlon starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, at Blatchley Middle School. The event is a fundraiser for the Sitka Cancer Survivors Society and honors the memory of a young Sitka woman who passed away from leukemia at the age of 15.

This year, the Baranof Barracudas Swim Club is organizing the race, taking over event hosting duties from the Hughes family. Registration takes place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, or from 7-8:30 a.m. on Saturday at Blatchley. The entry fee is $25 per person, and people can enter as individuals or teams.Participants are encouraged to have bike safety checks done at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop before the race.

The course is a five-mile run from Blatchley Middle School to the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka gate and back, a 12-mile bike ride from Blatchley to the Starrigavan Recreation Area at the end of Halibut Point Road and back, and a 1,000-yard swim at the Blatchley Middle School swimming pool. There is a shorter course available for participants who are age 12 or younger.

For more information, contact Kevin Knox at 738-4664, or send an e-mail to bbsc.sitka@gmail.com.

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A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Now there is a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 9. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Now there is a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 9. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

Two events this week will highlight kids’ cycling in Sitka — the inaugural National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9, and the Sitka Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 12.

On Wednesday, schools all over the country will encourage students to hope on their bikes for National Bike to School Day. Some schools will offer special events and prizes during the day (I haven’t heard of any special events in Sitka). To encourage safety, parents are encouraged to ride their own bikes with their kids as they head to school. Don’t forget Sitka has a bike helmet ordinance for children age 18 or younger.

The Sitka Bike Rodeo is an annual event sponsored by the Sitka Rotary Club and U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka. This year’s bike rodeo takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Coast Guard hangar. The target audience for this event is children age 14 and younger (though it may be below the level for experienced pre-teen cyclists). Kids need to bring their bike, a helmet and a parent to this event, which will happen rain or shine. Here’s what to expect — bike safety checks, bike skill events (Demon Driveway, Crazy Crossroads, Rock dodge, How slow can you go, Circle and balance, and more), helmet fitting, bike registration, discount helmets, hot dogs, healthy snacks, and refreshments. For more info about the Sitka Bike Rodeo, call Jeff Budd at 747-4821. Here is a story from last year’s Sitka Bike Rodeo with pictures from 2010.

Since more Sitka kids than usual will be hopping on their bikes this week, SEARHC Health Educator Doug Osborne (who is a League Certified Instructor by the League of American Bicyclists) compiled a list of his top 16 safety tips for youth cyclists.

16 TIPS FOR SAFE CYCLING IN SITKA – YOUTH

16.) Concentrate and pay attention to the traffic around you.

15.) Stop at STOP Signs and red lights, if you are going to turn then signal. Put your left hand and arm straight out for a left turn and your right hand straight out for a right turn (some people stick their left arm straight out, but bent at the elbow so the hand is straight up to signal a right turn).

14.) Bike in a predictable way and ride in a straight line instead of swerving in and out of traffic.

13.) Ride single file and give other bike riders space.

12.) Walk your bike across busy intersections, when you are not sure what to do or when it’s dark outside. DON’T RIDE IN THE DARK.

11.) Always wear shoes and make sure they don’t have long laces flying loose.

10.) Pick good daylight times and safe low traffic places to bike.

9.) Walk your bike on downtown sidewalks and give walkers the right of way.

8.) Keep both hands on the handlebars and always stay in good control of your bike.

7.) Ride on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic.

6.) Keep your bike well maintained: your parents and the local bicycle shop can help.

5.)  One person per bike – don’t carry passengers on the handlebars

4.) When leaving the driveway and before getting on the road, stop, look left, look right, look left again and only go if the coast is clear.

3.) Ride a bike that fits you, if it’s too big or too small you can lose control.

2.) Make sure that your brakes work and tires are pumped before each ride.

1.) ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET and make sure that it’s strapped up, level and snug.  Gloves and eye protection are also recommended by the League of American Bicyclists.

Doug also is providing schools and parents with copies of an Are You Street Smart? graphic and bike safety quiz he found in Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. The graphic shows a variety of traffic situations, and kids are supposed to circle which ones are wrong (such as riding on the wrong side of the road, not having hands on the handlebars, no helmet, etc.). He suggests parents have kids find at least one wrong item for each year of a child’s age (eg, a 7 year old finds at least seven items, a 10 year old finds 10 items, etc.). The link below has the graphic as a printable PDF document (with its answer key). The League of American Bicyclists also has several tips for teaching children safe riding habits.

• Are You Street Smart? bike safety quiz from Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine

• Answer key for Are You Street Smart? bike safety quiz

• Sitka Bike Rodeo flier

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Bill the Giant, left, Michael Bricker, center, and Tess Olympia Ramsey with their Sitka Pedicabs, a new business launching this week in Sitka.

Bill the Giant, left, Michael Bricker, center, and Tess Olympia Ramsey with their Sitka Pedicabs, a new business launching this week in Sitka.

There are three new cabs in Sitka, but these black-and-green cabs are human-powered. Michael Bricker recently bought three pedicabs and he is launching Sitka Pedicabs this week, just in time for the 2012 summer tourism season.

Michael will pedal one of the three pedicabs himself, and he will lease the other two to Bill the Giant (that’s his legal name, it used to be Bill Payton until a few months ago) and Tess Olympia Ramsey. Michael said the pedicabs will be a good way to help tourists get around, especially when they have limited time off the boat and they have to walk three miles to get to Sitka National Historical Park so they can check out the totems before having to hurry to get back to the dock for their lightering boat. The distance sometimes was too much for elderly tourists.

“I saw the tourists looking around for landmarks, and they’d stop to ask you where they were,” Michael said. “When you let them know how far it was, you could see them kind of give up on being able to get there.”

Michael Bricker, left, Bill the Giant, center, and Tess Olympia Ramsey uncrate one of the new Sitka Pedicabs on April 21, 2012.

Michael Bricker, left, Bill the Giant, center, and Tess Olympia Ramsey uncrate one of the new Sitka Pedicabs on April 21, 2012.

Michael said he, Bill and Tess will charge $2 a block per person, or $15 for a half-hour tour of downtown Sitka. He said the rates are an industry standard found in several other communities. In addition to taking tourists on Sitka’s main downtown area of Lincoln and Katlian streets, the pedicabs will be able to take tourists off-the-beaten-path destinations such as the geodesic house. The pedicabs also will be available to hire for weddings, proms and other special events. He also is selling banner space on the back of the pedicabs to advertise local businesses (one of the spots is reserved for Balanced Practice, the massage and yoga studio owned by Michael’s wife Crystal Oostema).

A former member of the U.S. Coast Guard, Michael now works as a massage therapist and is a judo coach. “The judo keeps me strong enough to do this,” he said.

In addition to having a snap-on water-resistant cover to keep passengers dry, the Sitka Pedicabs also feature working running lights and turn signals that are powered by a 12-volt battery.

In addition to having a snap-on water-resistant cover to keep passengers dry, the Sitka Pedicabs also feature working running lights and turn signals that are powered by a 12-volt battery.

The pedicabs were built by Main Street Pedicabs, which sells several varieties. Each pedicab can hold 2-3 people (depending on their size) and has 21 speeds. They also have water-resistant canvas covers to keep passengers dry during the ride. In addition, they have running lights on the front and back, with working turn signals. Michael has been in Ashland, Ore., taking a two-week bicycle mechanics course from the United Bicycle Institute so he can perform his own maintenance on the pedicabs.

While Michael has been at mechanics school, Bill and Tess have been getting used to the pedicabs. They’re looking forward to the summer.

“It seems like fun,” Bill said. “We’ll be getting exercise and fresh air.”

“We already bike everywhere, so we might as well get paid for it,” Tess said. “We can show off Sitka.”

Michael is building a website, http://www.sitkapedicabs.com/, but it’s not live yet. For now, people can contact him at 752-1025 or sitkapedicabs@gmail.com for more information.

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