Archive for June, 2012

Ray Friedlander, an intern with the Sitka Conservation Society, is organizing a critical mass ride for Friday, June 29.

Critical Mass is a mass bicycle ride that takes place on the last Friday of each month in more than 300 cities around the world. Everyone is invited. No one is in charge. Bring your bike. We will meet at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Larkspur Cafe (rain or shine) and collectively decide where to bike. For more information about this ride and future Critical Mass rides, contact Ray at sproutray@riseup.net.

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Sitka Trail Works Inc. and Allen Marine are teaming up to offer a bike and hike adventure on Kruzof Island this Saturday, June 24.

An Allen Marine catamaran will take cyclists and their mountain bikes from Sitka to Mud Bay on Kruzof Island, with the plan to ride five miles along the Kruzof Island logging roads and then hike another 1 1/2 miles from the Shelikof Bay Trailhead to Iris Meadows (total round-trip distance is 10 miles biking, 3 miles hiking). The boat leaves Sitka at 7 a.m. (load at 6:30 a.m. at Crescent Harbor) and returns at 5 p.m.

“It should be really fun, and I am sure the 24 spaces will go quickly,” said Deborah Lyons, Sitka Trail Works executive director. Sitka Trail Works is requesting a $100 donation to cover costs, and people can call the Sitka Trail Works office at 747-7244 to reserve their space.

• 2012 Sitka Trail Works activities calendar

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On Friday, June 1, about 40 young children hopped on their bikes and trikes to raise money for the non-profit Sheldon Jackson Child Care Center (111 Brady St., near the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center).

The annual bike-a-thon is the center’s only fundraiser, and it provides parents and the community with an opportunity to support the program. In addition, the fundraising helps the center apply for grants (some grants require matching funds), such as the recent USDA grant the center received to improve its playground.

During the last week of May (which is National Bike Month), the center offers a curriculum to teach its children about bicycles, tricycles and safety. On the Friday of the last week of May (this year on June 1), the children change into tye-die shirts to get ready for the bike-a-thon.

The kids ride a maximum of 10 laps around the paved loop that circles the center’s playground, while schoolmates cheer and parents count the laps. Pledges have been made prior to the fundraiser, with some people pledging per lap and others pledging a set amount. These photos are from the fundraiser and they are courtesy of Tori Fleming.

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Quinn Langbauer, a 2007 Sitka High School graduate, and former college roommate Mike Richard are hoping to bike about 7,500 miles across Siberia, and together they are one of the five finalists in the 2012 Outside Magazine Outdoor Adventure Contest.

If they win the voting on Outside Magazine’s Facebook page, then Quinn, Mike and Quinn’s younger brother Seth will win a $10,000 endowment for the trek from Leningrad to Vladivostok. During an interview Monday, June 12, on KCAW-Raven Radio, Quinn said he and Mike got the idea after reading the Mark Jenkins book “The Hard Way,” which was an account of his 1989 bike trip from Vladivostok to Leningrad.

During their video interview for the contest judging, Quinn and Mike said one reason for the trek is to see how Russia has changed in the 23 years since Jenkins’ trip, which came just as the Soviet Union was crumbling and Russia was just starting to embrace democracy.

If they win, they expect the trip to take about 6-8 months, starting next spring. Quinn, who now works as a chemical engineer in Midland, Texas, said he and Mike have been through a lot together, not just their time rooming together at the University of Wyoming. He said they get along well together, which should come in handy on a long trek such as this.

The contest winners will be decided by Facebook “likes” through the end of the contest on Sunday, June 17. To cast your vote, go to the link above (it does add an app to your Facebook page).

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SUNNY SUNDAY SITKA CYCLING: The e-mail announcement said “We go rain or shine, unless it’s a super gully-whumper,” but it turned out to be a nice day for a bike ride around Sitka on Sunday, June 3, when about a dozen cyclists gathered for an informal Tour de Sitka. The group met at the Sea Mart grocery store at 10 a.m. and rode out to the end of Halibut Point Road, where they stopped for a group picture. The then rode back into town and over the O’Connell Bridge to Japonski Island, where they grabbed brunch at the Nugget Restaurant in the Rocky Gutierrez Airport. Then it was back to Sea Mart, unless individual riders wanted to have the option of riding out to the end of Sawmill Creek Road first. The Tour de Sitka is a tradition started several years ago by Sitka teachers John and Cheryl Hedden, who since have retired and moved south. According to Jeff Budd, 12 riders participated this year, including one person on a single-speed cruiser and two high school students. He said the ride without the Sawmill Creek Road leg was about 14 miles, and it was a “fun group.” (Photo courtesy of Corrie Bosman)

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For the fifth straight year, Washington ranks No. 1 in the Bicycle Friendly State rankings compiled by the League of American Bicyclists. Alaska dropped from No. 29 to No. 33 in this year’s rankings, which were released on May 22 as part of National Bike Month.

Trailing Washington in the rankings were Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Maine and Delaware, all states above the Mason-Dixon Line. The bottom five states were Montana at No. 46, Alabama, West Virginia, North Dakota and Arkansas at No. 50. Even though Washington ranked No. 1 for the fifth straight year, the Seattle Bike Blog wrote there are several improvements the state can make to be even friendlier to cyclists. CNN posted this article about the Bicycle Friendly State rankings.

States were ranked using a 1-5 scale (1 is bad, 5 is good) in five categories — legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning. Alaska received a 4 in policies and programs, a 3 in education and encouragement, and a 2 in each of the other three categories.

One of Alaska’s strengths was its bicycle commuter mode share is nearly double the national average (and it’s nearly 10 times the average in Sitka). The top tip for improvement was to adopt a vulnerable user law that includes a minimum safe passing distance and stricter consequences for violations by motor vehicle drivers.

Alaska has made great strides to move up the rankings, where it ranked just 43rd in 2008 and a dismal 47th in 2009. Alaska moved up to 39th in 2010 and 29th in 2011. Since 2008, Alaska has added three Bicycle Friendly CommunitiesSitka (2008, bronze, renewed in 2012, bronze), Anchorage (2009, bronze) and Juneau (2011, bronze). Alaska also has added nine Bicycle Friendly BusinessesAnchorage Native Tribal Health Consortium (2009, gold), Southcentral Foundation (2010, silver), Green Star Inc. (2009, bronze), Providence Alaska Medical Center (2010, bronze), REI-Anchorage (2011, bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (2011, honorable mention), SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium-Sitka Campus (2011, bronze), CRW Engineering Group LLC (2012, silver) and Restoration Science and Engineering (2012, honorable mention). Alaska has no universities recognized by the Bicycle Friendly University program.

• 2012 Bicycle Friendly State scorecard for Alaska

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