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Archive for April, 2015

BikeGiveaway04242015

BIKE GIVEN – Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge members, Jack Ozment, left, and Darrell Windsor, right, present third-grader Haley Silva of Jessica Davis’ class 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 Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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bikerodeofinalrevised

As the temperatures warm up, two events this week will highlight kids’ cycling and safety in Sitka — the Sitka Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 2, and the second annual National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 6. These two events and others will help kick off National Bike Month (May) in Sitka.

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 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at the Coast Guard hangar. The target audience for this event is children age 12 and younger. Kids need to bring their bike, a helmet and a parent to this event, which will happen rain or shine.

“It’s a good chance for kids to make sure they and their bikes are ready to hit the roads and sidewalks for the busy spring and summer biking months,” event organizer Shannon Haugland said. “They can get their tires and brakes checked, make sure their helmets fit properly, put some fresh reflective gear on their bikes and clothing, and even get a new helmet. The favorite event is the obstacle course, where kids learn the rules of the road while testing their bike control skills.”

Other event sponsors include Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Girls Scouts of Alaska Troop 4140, and the Sitka Police Department. For more info about the Sitka Bike Rodeo, call Shannon Haugland at 738-0602.

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 6. (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 6. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

On Wednesday, May 6, schools all over the country will encourage students to hope on their bikes for the third annual National Bike to School Day. Some schools will offer special events and prizes during the day. Schools in Sitka have signed up to host events, and many other Alaska communities are hosting bike rides to school. It’s not too late to organize one for your school To encourage safety, parents are encouraged to ride their own bikes with their kids as they head to school.

There also will be classroom presentations of bike safety information, quizzes and other contests on Wednesday-Thursday, May 6-7, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Blatchley Middle School by the Sitka Community Hospital Injury Prevention Program and the Sitka School District‘s Live-Well Program. Those students who complete the quiz will be entered into a drawing for a bike, courtesy of Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and the Live-Well Program (in addition, during the classroom presentations kids will be given a special password for a 20-percent discount during May at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop).

Since it’s spring, here are a few bike safety rules for the kids:

  • Wear a properly fitting bike helmet (click here to learn how to fit a helmet). Not only is it a good way to protect yourself from head injuries, Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance that requires all children age 18 or younger to wear helmets when they ride bikes, trikes, skateboards, scooters and similar vehicles.
  • Right on the right side of the road, with traffic not against it. Older kids (age 11 and older) and adults should avoid riding their bikes on the sidewalks, especially downtown where there are lots of walkers (a bike can seriously injure elders who doesn’t hear the bike rider coming up behind them).
  • Wear bright clothes and make sure you have a working solid white headlight and flashing red taillight on your bike, especially if you ride when it’s dark. Wear a reflective vest or arm bands/leg bands, and put reflective tape on your clothes and/or bike frame so it’s easier for drivers to see you on the bike.
  • Know the rules of the road, and follow them. Stop at all stop signs and stop lights. Ride in a safe, predictable manner so cars know where you’re going. Use hand signals for all turns. Yield to traffic when appropriate.
  • Check your bike before riding it, especially the ABCs — Air (tires have the right amount of air), Brakes (the brakes work and will stop your tire so it skids on the pavement) and Chain (make sure the chain is the right tension and there are no damaged links, oil if necessary).
  • For more bike safety rules for kids, click here.

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Cross Phases 4&5 4-15

trail complete4-15The City and Borough of Sitka, in cooperation with Sitka Trail Works, has been working on improvements to and reconstruction of the Sitka Cross Trail since last spring.

Using grants the city received from the Alaska Department of Transportation and the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), a Rasmuson Foundation grant and Sitka Trail Works donations, 1.25 miles of new trail is now complete. The old Cross Trail has been upgraded to an eight-foot-wide multimodal pathway standard, from Sitka High School to Yaw Drive and a separated path was constructed along Yaw Drive to the Indian River Trailhead parking lot. If walkers park in the Indian River/Cross Trail Trailhead parking lot off Indian River Road, the separated path now starts across the road at Peter Simpson Drive and runs along Yaw Drive to the main Cross Trail.

Sitka Trail Works has begun construction of Phase 5 of the Cross Trail Multimodal Pathway. Approximately one mile of multimodal trail will be constructed to replace the lower portion of Gavan Hill Trail. The new section of the Cross Trail will share a trailhead with the Gavan Hill Trail at the end of Baranof Street. The Phase 5 pathway will provide access to the Cross Trail and Gavan Hill Trail from downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. The lower part of Gavan Hill Trail will be abandoned.

During construction heavy equipment will be using neighborhood streets. Trail construction materials will be staged at the end of Pherson Street and adjacent to the city cemetery. Residents are asked to “excuse our mess,” truck traffic and noise during construction, and avoid the staging areas. Construction will be complete in the fall.

For further information, please contact Lynne Brandon of the Sitka Department of Parks and Recreation at 747-1852, or Deborah Lyons of Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244.

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2015NationalBikeMonthFlier

May is National Bike Month, and Sitka cyclists will have plenty of opportunities to celebrate for 2015.

Not only is May National Bike Month, but May 6 is National Bike to School Day, May 11-15 is National Bike to Work Week and May 15 is National Bike to Work Day. These are great times to leave the car at home and take the bike to work.

LAB_NBC_offsite-smallheader280x270Sitka cyclists are encouraged to take part in the second annual National Bike Challenge, which runs from May 1 to Sept. 30. This is the fourth year of the free national event, and the goal this year is having 75,000 people riding 35 million miles during the five months from May through September. Riders can win prizes for participating as individuals and/or teams. Individuals also earn points for their communities and states. This year there are some Sitka organizations forming teams, and feel free to join the Sitka Cyclists team if you live in Sitka. There also are several different smartphone apps that can track your distance and record it.

bikerodeofinalrevisedOne of the highlights of National Bike Month in Sitka is the Sitka Bike Rodeo, which this year takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka hangar. This free event teaches young riders age 12-younger bike safety, provides the kids with bike safety checks, skills drills and more. It is hosted by the Sitka Rotary ClubU.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka, Sitka Community Hospital, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Girl Scouts of Alaska Troop 4140, and the Sitka Police Department.

BTSD_2inch_ColorThis also is the third year of National Bike to School Day, on Wednesday, May 6, which is a chance to encourage students to develop healthy lifestyle habits such as riding a bike or walking. School districts have the opportunity to schedule special events for National Bike to School Day, and they can list them on the national site to earn pioneer status. Parents should feel free to join their children to ride to school that day.

On May 6-7, members of the Sitka Community Hospital Injury Prevention Program and Sitka School District‘s Live-Well Program will host presentations at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Blatchley Middle School to teach the students about bike safety.

Paul Wistrand of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will lead two safety assessment tours, one walking and one biking, to assess the safety of roads/pathways on Thursday, May 7, in Sitka. The walking safety assessment has two segments and meets at 9 a.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall, and after some introductory comments will include a hike along the Sitka Sea Walk to the Sitka National Historical Park, with the second segment being to the Alaska Raptor Center and then back to Harrigan Centennial Hall. After lunch, participants will meet again at Harrigan Centennial Hall to mount bicycles for a bike tour along Halibut Point Road to Pioneer Park (near Sea Mart) and back. After each tour segment, participants will complete a short evaluation form.

NBM2014_Web_250x250_ANational Bike to Work Week kicks off on Monday, May 11, which is when the League of American Bicyclists will announce its next group of Bicycle Friendly Communities. Sitka received its renewal of bronze-level status in May 2012, becoming the first Alaska community to earn a repeat designation. Sitka became Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008.

Each year, Sitka hosts a National Bike to Work Week contest where people who ride their bikes to work or school on May 11-15 can stop by Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop to enter a contest to win a gift certificate from the shop and possibly other prizes donated by local merchants and organizations. The more times you ride, the greater your chances to win.

Friday, May 15, is National Bike To Work Day and the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus will host its annual free pancake breakfast from 7:30-9 a.m. Ride your bike to the university and get free pancakes, eggs and sausage fresh off the griddle. Don’t forget to enter your name for the door prize drawing.

JulieHughesTriathlonThe 31st annual Julie Hughes Triathlon takes place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, at Blatchley Middle School. This event is hosted by the Baranof Barracudas Swim Club. The triathlon features a five-mile run from Blatchley to the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka entrance gate and back, a 14-mile bike ride from Blatchley to 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. A shorter course is available for children age 12 or younger. There is a $25 per participant entry fee for individuals and teams ($15 for ages 12 and younger), and proceeds from the triathlon benefit the Sitka Cancer Survivors Society. Event registration is online this year at http://www.juliehughestri.com/. Day-of-race registration closes at 8 a.m., and the race starts at 9 a.m. For more information, contact Kevin Knox at 738-4664 or by email at bbsc.sitka@gmail.com. To learn more about Julie Hughes, who died from leukemia in 1985 when she was 15, and the triathlon’s history, read this April 2013 article from Capital City Weekly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew this year is the Sitka Community Bike Ride and Cookout on Saturday, May 23. This event will feature a short kid-friendly bike parade through downtown starting at 3 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter (or in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall, depending on the construction project). After our loop through downtown, at 3:45 p.m. we’ll start a longer ride to Halibut Point Recreation Area, where we’ll meet for our cookout at 4:30 p.m. We hope to have bike mechanics set up before the downtown parade and at Halibut Point Rec to oil chains and tweak gears. There will be contests for bike decorations, most visible bike, and more. For details, contact Sophie Nethercut or Sarah Komisar at 747-7509.

Finally, the Sitka office of the Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) program will host an ORCA program bike day on Tuesday, May 26, with a ride from 3-4:30 p.m. leaving from the SAIL office at 514 Lake Street. For details, contact Bridget Kratz at 747-6859.

For more information about these events, contact Charles Bingham at 738-8875 or Doug Osborne at 747-0373, or watch this site for updates.

• 2015 National Bike Month list of Sitka events (PDF flier to print and post)

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Pedestrian Bicycle Assessment Invitation for State and Local Partners

Paul Wistrand of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will lead two tours, one walking and one biking, to assess the safety of roads/pathways on Thursday, May 7, in Sitka. (NOTE: The schedule has been revised from what originally was published.)

“I’m looking forward to the bike/pedestrian safety assessment,” Wistrand wrote in an email. “It would be great to get a couple of bicyclists and/or walkers to join us in the assessment, and get their feedback and input into what bicycle and pedestrian features have had the greatest impact in the community.”

Walkers check out the Sitka Sea Walk during its October 2013 grand opening

Walkers check out the Sitka Sea Walk during its October 2013 grand opening

The walking safety assessment meets at Harrigan Centennial at 9 a.m., and after some introductory comments will include a the first segment of the hike along the Sitka Sea Walk to Sitka National Historical Park. The second segment of the hike will be to the Alaska Raptor Center, before participants return to Harrigan Centennial Hall and a lunch break. After lunch, participants will meet back at Harrigan Centennial Hall to mount bicycles for a bike tour along Halibut Point Road to Pioneer Park (near Sea Mart) and back. After each tour segment, participants will complete a short evaluation form. Maps are part of the first attachment linked below.

“The assessment will be a great way to get end users and officials from local, state and federal levels who are involved with bicycle and pedestrian facilities together,” Wistrand wrote. “It’s also a chance to highlight the many improvements to these facilities in Sitka that have contributed to Sitka’s twice being recognized as a bronze-level bike/walk friendly community.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announces the Safer People, Safer Streets Initiative during the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place convention in September 2014.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announces the Safer People, Safer Streets Initiative during the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place convention in September 2014.

These safety assessments are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Safer People, Safer Streets” initiative, where Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx mandated USDOT field offices to partner with state and local communities to do corridor-level safety assessments. One of the reasons for these tours is to help transportation planners, state and local officials, and others learn more about some of the challenges faced by non-motorized transportation users. The safety assessment tours are free and open to the public.

In addition to the publicly announced safety assessments, federal, state and local representatives will be walking and biking other parts of Sitka to rate those areas. One of the additional walking assessments will be of Katlian Street and interested participants can meet with Paul at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, at the Totem Square Inn hotel lobby.

For more information and to RSVP for the free tours, contact Paul Wistrand at 1-907-586-7148 or paul.wistrand@dot.gov.

• Sitka Bike and Pedestrian Assessment Invitation

• Revised Sitka walking and biking safety assessment schedule

• Sample Sitka walking and biking assessment scoresheet

• Safer People, Safer Streets Iniatiative

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