Archive for June, 2018


A preview of the first Sitka monthly community bike ride is at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 30 (this is a shakedown ride, and the time has changed from what was previously reported), followed by the first official Sitka monthly community bike ride at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 7.

We’ll meet at the Crescent Harbor shelter and ride to the Herring Cove trailhead or Medvejie Hatchery (depending on the group’s energy level), then ride back to town.

Bring a snack or light lunch for yourself — we’ll stop for a snack break when we get out to the end of Sawmill Creek Road. Please wear a helmet.

The purpose of the monthly community bike ride is to build community, have fun, get some exercise, and raise awareness of bikers.

For more information, contact Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Holly Marban at 966-8938

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, at the North Sister Juice and Crepe Company (located on Seward Street next to Subway). Please note that this is a different day than usual for our meetings.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include scheduling monthly bike rides through the summer (including one from Crescent Harbor to the Herring Cove trailhead or Medvejie Hatchery at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 30), a possible discussion about bike parking and bike access at Sitka National Historical Park, the creation of a statewide biking/walking advocacy group (tentatively called Walk/Bike Alaska), planning the annual Kidical Mass family friendly event in September, a discussion about what we can do to make Sitka more bicycle friendly, and other topics.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373.

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TWICE AS SAFE: Darby Osborne wears two helmets before a Sitka Community Bike Ride event several years ago.

Thursday, June 1, was the 13th anniversary of Sitka’s youth bicycle ordinance, and it’s a good time to remind parents that their children younger than age 18 are required to wear helmets when biking, skateboarding, inline skating, riding a scooter, or using any other similar vehicle in Sitka. If a child is caught riding without a helmet often enough, the parents will start receiving fines.

“The ground is very hard and unyielding so wearing a helmet that is level, snug and strapped is very important,” said Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion Doug Osborne, who lobbied for the ordinance 13 years ago when he worked with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “I know people who might not be here today if it wasn’t for their trusty helmet. Helmets save lives!”

According to the Center for Head Injury Services, 85 percent of all head injuries in bicycle wrecks can be prevented by wearing helmets, and about 75 percent of bicyclists who die after being in a wreck die from head injuries. The lifetime cost of a severe head injury can exceed $4 million. Considering most helmets cost between $10-$50, that’s a cheap investment for injury prevention.

Sitka was one of the first Alaska communities to adopt a youth helmet ordinance, and Sitka’s ordinance has been used as a statewide model by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Here’s the text of Sitka’s youth helmet ordinance.


11.70.010 Helmet requirements for young persons riding certain vehicles. (Revised 4/15)

A. It shall be unlawful for any person under eighteen years of age to operate or ride upon in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, coasters, toy motorized vehicles, gasoline or electric motor-driven cycles or scooters, bicycles, tricycles, unicycles, or any similar vehicles on any public property or private property that is open for public use within the city and borough of Sitka, including highways, streets, roads, bikeways or trails, or rights-of-way, unless that person wears a certified protective helmet that is properly fitted and that is properly fastened. This requirement also applies to any minor who rides in a restraining seat, trailer, backpack or similar child-restraining device used by someone who operates in-line or roller skates, skateboards, scooters, coasters, toy motor vehicles, gasoline or electric motor-driven cycles or scooters, bicycles, tricycles, or any similar vehicles. A parent or guardian having control or custody of a minor whose conduct violates this section shall be liable for the fine imposed by this section.

B. No parent or guardian of any minor shall allow the minor to violate this chapter.

C. A certified protective helmet is a helmet containing a manufacturer certification that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

D. For the first violation of this section, the individual cited will be given the opportunity to correct the citation by providing proof to the Sitka police department that a helmet was purchased or acquired otherwise for the minor. If such evidence is presented, the city and borough or court shall dismiss such citation. The fine for a violation of this section following a citation that has been dismissed based on the previous two sentences or sustained shall be twenty-five dollars. The fine for a violation that follows a violation that has resulted in a twenty-five dollar fine shall be fifty dollars. (Ord. 15-11 § 4 (part), 2015; Ord. 05-11 § 4, 2005.)

YoungboyRidesA reminder about bicycle helmets is they are designed for one major impact only and should be replaced after a wreck. The helmet may still look OK, but bike helmets are designed similar to a car fender, where it crumbles to absorb the impact of the blow (so your head doesn’t crumble). You also need to make sure the helmet you use is correct for your activity (for example, a BMX helmet is different than a standard bike helmet). Click this link, https://helmets.org/fit.htm, to learn how to properly fit a bicycle helmet.

“Helmets are a more fashionable than a sidewalk haircut,” Sitka cyclist Bill Giant said. “I’ll happily wear a helmet every day I don’t crash, because the one day I do crash I’ll be delighted I was wearing it. I’ve heard gravel scraping along my bike helmet during a bike crash, and I remember smiling and thinking ‘This helmet is saving my life.’ I lost some beautiful skin from my shoulder, but my face and hair are still impeccable. Some people find helmets uncomfortable. Everyone finds traumatic brain injuries uncomfortable. Wear a helmet.”

Bicycle helmets can be purchased from several locations in town, including Yellow Jersey Cycle ShopAC/Lakeside GroceryTrue ValueSea Mart, and even the White E thrift shop.

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Sunday, June 3, is a great day to go for a bicycle ride, as the United Nations recently declared it the inaugural World Bicycle Day.

Since we just finished a full month of bike events in May for National Bike Month, the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition hasn’t scheduled a formal ride on June 3. But it’s a great time to go for a ride on the Cross Trail, or to ride out Halibut Point Road or Sawmill Creek Road.

The bicycle has been around for about 200 years, and it’s estimated more than 800 million people in the world will ride a bike this year. Riding a bicycle is an efficient, healthy, sustainable and fun activity that provides reliable transportation, beneficial recreation and crucial access to food, education, work, health care, and other essential services. The bicycle is an essential mobility tool, and first responders sometimes have to use bicycles after a hurricane or earthquake to get relief into areas cars and trucks can’t reach.

The proclamation declaring World Bicycle Day was passed by consensus from 193 countries on April 12, 2018, during the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly.

“We are extremely happy with this declaration,” said Dr. Bernhard Ensink, Secretary General of the World Cycling Alliance (WCA) and the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) who campaigned for a UN designated World Bicycle Day since 2016. “Cycling is a source for social, economic and environmental benefits – and it is bringing people together. This UN declaration is an acknowledgment of the contribution of cycling to the sustainable development goals.”

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