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BIKE GIVEN – Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Rosie Starbuck stands with her mom, Ariel Coleman Starbuck and brother, Cedar, after Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Darrell Windsor presented her with a new bicycle recently at the 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 the students’ display of good citizenship. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop donates a lock and helmet to the winner. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo)
BIKE GIVEN –  Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Sam Ploetzner, 9, holds up a new bicycle after Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Tom Brown presented it to him recently at the 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 the students’ display of good citizenship. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo)
BIKE GIVEN –  Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Ben Lihou gives his mom, Heidi, a hug as Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Gregg Dunn, right, presents him with a new bicycle and helmet recently at the school. Ben’s dad, Robert, at left, looks on. The Masons are giving a bicycle to one student in each third-grade class at the school. Third-grade teacher Anita Simic asked her class to nominate a classmate. Most nominations were for Ben, who was described as hardworking, upbeat, kind, helping, thoughtful, generous, positive, understanding and a good friend to have. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo) 

BIKE GIVEN –  Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Emily Wingard holds a bicycle helmet as she stands with her parents after receiving it and a new bicycle from Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Darrell Windsor, at left. The Masons gave a bicycle to one student in each third-grade class at the school this year. Third-grade teachers selected the recipients based on students’ behavior in class and the students’ display of good citizenship. (Photo Providedto the Daily Sitka Sentinel)

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The Sitka Cycling Club will host a monthly steering committee at noon on Thursday, Feb. 25, using Zoom. This meeting is open to the general public.

Meeting topics include visioning for the new year (where do we want to be at this time next year), a look at our current status and realities, a chance to brainstorm club goals for 2021, an evaluation and selection of broad paths forward, a review of our recent Sitka mountain bike trail plan survey results and discussion about our upcoming trail plan, an update on the Salty Spoke Bike Cooperative, setting some monthly club rides starting in April, a discussion of steering club committee roles and recruitment of new members (we need a VP), a discussion of club membership and possibly adding annual dues, and setting our next meeting for March. We also might start planning National Bike Month events for May.

For those wanting to participate in the meeting, contact Doug Osborne at 738-8734 or douglaso@searhc.org for the meeting log-in info.

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Sitka’s weather on International Winter Bike To Work Day, Friday, Feb. 12, was cold and sunny, with no real moisture in about a week, which may have helped Sitka finish in the top 100 in the 2021 overall standings. Sitka beat several cities with more than a million people.

Sitka finished in a 13-way tie for 98th overall, with seven points (riders who recorded their rides on the international website). That put Sitka ahead of several larger communities around the world, such as Talinn, Estonia; Warsaw, Poland; Hannover, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; and Vienna, Austria. Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the International Winter Bike To Work Day website. The only other Alaska community among the top-250 places in the standings was Anchorage, which was in a 117-way tie for 230th place with two points.

Sweden dominated the top spots in the standings, with four cities in the top five. Linköping was the 2021 winner with 412 points, followed by 2020 overall winner Uppsala with 352 points. In third place was Umeå with 253 points, while Göteborg and Ismir, Turkey, tied for fourth place with 218 points. Rounding out the top-10 places in the standings were three-time winner (2015-17) Zagreb, Croatia, in sixth with 191 points; Montréal, Quebec, Canada, in seventh place with 159 points; 2014 winner Oulu, Finland, in eighth place with 155 points; and two more Swedish cities with Stockholm in ninth place with 132 points and Falun in 10th place with 127 points. Other former champions included 2019 champion Denver, Colorado, USA, in a tie for 65th place with 12 points; 2018 champion Novi Sad, Serbia, in a tie for 347th place with one point; and 2013 champion Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in a tie for 32nd place with 27 points. (In 2013 the event was almost entirely Canadian and it didn’t become a true international event until 2014.)

There were 93 communities from the United States that show up in the standings. The top five United State cities in the standings were Boulder, Colo., in a tie for 29th place with 32 points (the top American city); Traverse City, Mich., in a tie for 32nd place with 27 points; Denver in a tie for 65th place with 12 points; and Olympia, Wash., and Lincoln, Neb., both in a tie for 76th place with 10 points. Sitka, in its tie for 98th place with seven points, was the sixth American city. Other than Anchorage, no other Alaska communities showed up in the standings.

Participants in Sitka could enter a drawing at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop on Feb. 12 when they recorded their rides, which could include loops around town due to so many people being out of work or working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. James Poulson won a reflective rain jacket from SEARHC, Greg George won a Mako Nite Rider headlight from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, Davey Lubin won a Serfas Seat-Stay tail light from Yellow Jersey, Sharyn Ferrick won a Herrmans Safety Wing reflector from Yellow Jersey, Doug Osborne won a Sayre reflective band, and Ronan George won a Cycloq mounted bike holder (for the wall) from an anonymous donor. Thank you to all who donated prizes.

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Sitka cyclists are hardy souls, and many of us ride our bikes all year round, not just in the summer. Now Sitka cyclists can ride and win prizes by participating in the ninth annual International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 12. This year, since so many people are working from home or are out of work due to COVID-19, the event has been rebranded as WinterBikeALoopza, with people encouraged to ride loops around town if they aren’t actually riding to work or school.

Our celebration of winter cycling in Sitka will be simple. First, go to the International Winter Bike To Work Day website, https://winterbiketoworkday.org/, and commit online to riding to work on Friday, Feb. 12 (people who work at home can use a bike ride for errands or sport as their bike commute for the day). Then, on Friday, Feb. 12, during your bike commute, stop by the Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop (329 Harbor Dr.) between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to enter your name and phone number in a contest to win prizes, including a reflective vest from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and other goodies from businesses around town.

This is the ninth year of International Winter Bike To Work Day, which started when several communities in Canada challenged each other to see which one could have the highest number of bike commuters. In 2014 the event expanded outside Canada, and Sitka and Anchorage hosted events along with several other communities around the world’s polar regions. Sitka ended up having the second-highest number of participants per capita, trailing only Oulu, Finland, in 2014. We also were the smallest community to have at least 20 participants. In 2015, there were even more winter cyclists participating around the world, and Zagreb, Croatia, became the first community to have more than 1,000 cyclists participate. Zagreb also had the most participants in 2016 (Sitka finished 107th overall, even finishing ahead of some large cities). Zagreb won again in 2017, but in 2018 Novi Sad, Serbia, ended Zagreb’s three-year reign as the top winter biking community. There now are ways businesses and schools can compete.

The 2019 event saw the first winner from the United States, as Denver, Color., had the most points (1,405) and participants (1,207). Boulder, Colo., took second place with 1,174 points; followed in third place by Zagreb, Hrvatska (Croatia), with 520 points; Gdańsk, Polska (Poland), in fourth place with 287 points; and Varaždin, Hrvatska, in fifth place with 264 points.

Sitka finished in a six-way tie for 98th place overall in 2019 with 20 points, matching New York City; Durham, N.C.; Osijek, Hrvatska (Croatia); Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland (Germany); and Getxo, España (Spain). Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the international website, inviting friends to ride, sharing photos, hosting an event, etc. The only other Alaska community ranked in the top 200 cities was Anchorage in 41st place with 67 points.

In 2020, Sitka finished in a 30-way tie for 180th place overall with six points/riders who recorded their rides on the International Winter Bike To Work/School Day website, matching Warsaw, Poland; Zurich, Switzerland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Madrid, Spain; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and several other much larger communities around the world. Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the international website. The only other Alaska community ranked in the top 200 cities was Anchorage in a three-way tie for 113th place with 14 points.

The 2020 overall winner was Uppsala, Sweden, with 879 points. Taking second place was 2014 winner Oulu, Finland, with 791 points; followed by Helsinki, Finland, in third with 571; Linköping, Sweden, in fourth with 479; and three-time winner (2015-17) Zagreb, Croatia, in fifth place with 468 points. Boulder, Colo., was the top city from the United States with 413 points.

We encourage all cyclists to be safe in their rides. They should wear helmets, wear bright reflective clothes, and have working solid white headlights in front and blinking red taillights in back. They also should follow all rules of the road, such as riding on the right side of the road (not on the sidewalk) and stopping at all stop lights/stop signs.

We are still gathering door prizes, and businesses or people wanting to donate door prizes to the event can contact Charles Bingham at charleswbingham3@gmail.com or Doug Osborne at douglaso@searhc.org for more information. We are looking for items such as gloves, reflective safety vests, water bottles, helmets, etc., although some businesses donated gift cards, bike books, or non-biking and non-winter items in past years.

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Sitka Cycling Club President Doug Osborne, left, and Sitka Cycling Club Treasurer Charles Bingham show off their Bicycle Friendly Community Silver Level designation swag in 2016. Sitka just renewed its Bicycle Friendly Community designation at the Silver Level for 2020-24.

The League of American Bicyclists announced on Wednesday (Dec. 16) that it has renewed the Silver Level designation for Sitka, Alaska, in the Bicycle Friendly Community program.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program promotes safer streets and better bicycling by awarding various levels to communities based on how their city or town meets standards in the Five E’s — Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evaluation/Planning. A new E, Equity, is being introduced to the judging process and will replace Enforcement in future applications. Communities are required to resubmit applications at least once every four years.

This is the fourth time Sitka has been honored with a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award. Sitka became Alaska’s first BFC in 2008, after community members chose becoming a more bike- and walk-friendly community as one of the community wellness projects from the first Sitka Health Summit in 2007. Sitka renewed at the Bronze Level in 2012, and upgraded to the Silver Level in 2016. In addition, Sitka also earned the state’s first Walk Friendly Communities designations with Bronze Level awards in 2013 and 2017 (WFC is a newer program coordinated by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center and supported by the Pedestrian and Bicycling Information Center).

“This is great news,” Sitka Cycling Club President Doug Osborne said. “Thanks to the League (of American Bicyclists) and everyone in town who’s helping us to be a Bicycle Friendly Community. Being a bike friendly community was identified as a top goal at the first Sitka Health Summit planning day in 2007. Since then, we have made steady progress and now we have more places to ride.”

Wednesday’s announcement honored 51 communities as renewing or new Bicycle Friendly Communities at the Platinum (1), Gold (3), Silver (11) or Bronze (38) levels (there also is a Diamond Level that wasn’t awarded this time). In addition, there were 16 communities that earned Honorable Mention status, just below the full BFC designation. Since 2002, the League of American Bicyclists has awarded 485 BFC designations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and has received applications from more than 850 communities. There now are five BFCs in Alaska — Sitka (Silver), Anchorage (Silver), Juneau (Bronze), Kenai (Bronze) and Soldotna (Bronze) — and two Honorable Mentions (Fairbanks and Haines).

“During one of the toughest years in recent memory, we have seen so many Americans turn to biking during the pandemic for fun and for necessary transportation options. It’s so important that communities like Sitka have laid the groundwork over several years to make biking a safe, accessible option for people when we all need as much health and happiness as possible,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “This Bicycle Friendly Community award is the culmination of years of work put in by Sitka and its citizen advocates for better biking. This award round, Sitka joins 51 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities in the movement toward healthier, more sustainable and connected places. As we turn the page on 2020 and look ahead to 2021, we’re proud that Sitka and communities like it are embracing bicycling as a solution to our collective recovery.”

The Bicycle Friendly Community program is part of the League of American Bicyclist’s larger Bicycle Friendly America program, which also includes Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business, and Bicycle Friendly University designations. Sitka’s largest employer, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Sitka Campus, holds a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Business designation.

During normal years, Sitka is known for hosting a variety of community bike rides and education events, such as National Bike Month events in May and a Kidical Mass family friendly bike ride in September, and having one of the state’s highest rates of people who commute to work by bike. But the COVID-19 pandemic limited those activities this spring and summer.

Sitka still accomplished several cycling-positive projects over the past couple of years, such as building four single-track mountain bike trail loops off the Sitka Cross Trail this summer, opening the Salty Spoke bike cooperative at Hames Wellness Center, rebranding the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition as the Sitka Cycling Club and getting nearly 250 club members to register, starting a citywide bicycle parking plan, starting a Sitka mountain bike trails plan, launching a Bicycle Benefits program where cyclists can show participating merchants a sticker on their helmets to receive a discount at local businesses, and hosting the 2019 Alaska Walk and Bike Conference that included a two-day Smart Cycling training (Sitka also was scheduled to host the 2020 conference before it went virtual due to the pandemic).

To learn more about the Sitka Cycling Club, go to https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com or like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaCycling. Links to Sitka’s Bicycle Friendly Community application and report card can be found under the Documents tab on the Sitka Cycling Club website (previous year applications can be found by scrolling down the page). To learn more about the League of American Bicyclists and its Bicycle Friendly Community program, go to http://www.bikeleague.org/community.

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(This photo and caption appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

BIKE PRESENTED — Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Cedar Powers, center; stands with her family, after being presented with a new bike by Verstovia Masonic Lodge members Jerald Neel, back left, and Darrell Windsor, right, recently. The Sitka Mount Verstovia Masonic Lodge is once again donating a bicycle to one student from each third-grade class, who are selected by their teachers based on the students’ behavior in class and display of good citizenship. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop donates a helmet and lock as part of the prize. (Photo submitted to the Daily Sitka Sentinel).

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Sitka’s weather on International Winter Bike To Work/School Day, Friday, Feb. 14, wasn’t very wintery, which may have helped Sitka finish in the top 200 in the overall standings, beating several cities with more than a million people.

Sitka finished in a 30-way tie for 180th place overall with six points/riders who recorded their rides on the International Winter Bike To Work/School Day website, matching Warsaw, Poland; Zurich, Switzerland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Madrid, Spain; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and several other much larger communities around the world. Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the international website. The only other Alaska community ranked in the top 200 cities was Anchorage in a three-way tie for 113th place with 14 points.

This year’s overall winner was Uppsala, Sweden, with 879 points. Taking second place was 2014 winner Oulu, Finland, with 791 points; followed by Helsinki, Finland, in third with 571; Linköping, Sweden, in fourth with 479; and three-time winner (2015-17) Zagreb, Croatia, in fifth place with 468 points. Boulder, Colo., was the top city from the United States with 413 points.

Denver, Colo., which won last year’s title, finished in ninth place with 327 points. Other past winners included 2018 champ Novi Sad, Serbia, in a tie for 211th place with three points; and 2013 champion Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 47th place with 57 points (in 2013, the event was almost exclusively Canadian, and it didn’t become truly international until 2014).

In Sitka, cyclists could enter a drawing at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop on Feb. 14. Robert Weddel won a taillight set from Yellow Jersey. Thank you, Bill Hughes of Yellow Jersey for donating the prize.

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Sitka’s weather on International Winter Bike To Work/School Day, Friday, Feb. 8, wasn’t very wintery, which may have helped Sitka finish in the top 100 in the overall standings, beating several cities with more than a million people.

Sitka finished in a six-way tie for 98th place overall with 20 points, matching New York City; Durham, N.C.; Osijek, Hrvatska (Croatia); Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland (Germany); and Getxo, España (Spain). Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the international website, inviting friends to ride, sharing photos, hosting an event, etc. The only other Alaska community ranked in the top 200 cities was Anchorage in 41st place with 67 points.

For the first time in the event’s history, a city from the United States earned top honors. Denver, Colo., won the title with 1,405 points (including 1,207 cyclists). Boulder, Colo., took second place with 1,174 points; followed in third place by Zagreb, Hrvatska, with 520 points; Gdańsk, Polska (Poland), in fourth place with 287 points; and Varaždin, Hrvatska, in fifth place with 264 points.

Нови Сад, Србија (Novi Sad, Serbia), which won the overall title last year and finished in second place the previous two years, dropped to 50th place and only 52 points this year (it had a record 1,393 participants in 2018). Besides Novi Sad in 2018, previous winners include Zagreb three times (2015-17), Oulu, Suomi (Finland, 2014, tied for 29th place in 2019 with 87 points), and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (2013, when the event was almost exclusively in Canada, sixth place in 2019 with 241 points).

In Sitka, cyclists could enter a drawing at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop on Feb. 8. Becky Meiers won a headlight/taillight set from Yellow Jersey, and Katie Reilly won a set of used studded mountain bike tires from Andrew Thoms in the contest. Thank you, Bill Hughes of Yellow Jersey and Andrew Thoms for donating the prizes.

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National Bike Month kicks off on Tuesday, May 1, and Sitka residents are encouraged to find ways to get out and ride your bike this month. The seasons are changing, so make sure you get out on your bike and enjoy a ride.

This is a great time to help Sitka show why it earned an upgrade to the Silver level of the Bicycle Friendly Community program in 2016, and was featured on the cover of the Winter 2017 edition of Bicycle Friendly America magazine in February.

Our National Bike Month schedule concludes the annual Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 26, where we celebrate the 127th anniversary of the first bike seen in Sitka (on May 28, 1891) with a ride through downtown Sitka. This is a great family friendly event to celebrate cycling in Sitka, and people are encouraged to bring any classic or unusual bikes they have to this event. We hope to have someone available to do minor maintenance before the ride (pump up tires, oil chains, tighten brake cables, etc.).

Also on the agenda are National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9; the Sitka Bike Rodeo for kids on Saturday, May 12; our annual National Bike to Work Week (May 14-18) drawing for prizes for those who commute to work or school by bike during the week; a Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition monthly meeting on Friday, May 4; two SEARHC-hosted Doc Talks about cycling and exercise (on Tuesday, May 1, and Tuesday, May 15, at the Sitka Public Library); the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 19; and the Sitka Trail Works Cross Trail guided bike ride on Saturday, May 5. SEARHC also is offering a $100 discount on the purchase of a bike at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop during May for Sitka residents who saw SEARHC health providers from October 2017 through May 2018 (with extra safety equipment provided by Yellow Jersey).

In addition, we plan a special event each day of National Bike Week, including free coffee or tea at the Backdoor Cafe on Monday morning, May 14; a Doc Talks at the Sitka Public Library on Tuesday, May 15; a Ride of Silence event to honor cyclists killed or injured in traffic on Wednesday, May 16; pedal-powered smoothies and a lunch discount at North Sister Juice and Crepe Co. on Thursday, May 17; and a celebration of cyclists at the Sitka Health Summit‘s Wooch.een luncheon on Friday, May 18 (National Bike To Work Day).

As in past years, those cyclists who ride their bike to work, school or on errands during National Bike To Work Week (May 14-18) can fill out tickets at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop for a chance to win a gift certificate from Yellow Jersey, with other prizes possible. The prize drawing will be at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on May 19. To donate a prize, contact Doug Osborne at dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

Over the last year or so, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has been updating the Alaska Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and Sitka cyclists can still submit feedback on the website. This is important since Alaska’s last update to the plan was more than 20 years ago (1994).

In addition, Sitka cyclists are encouraged to join with thousands of others from around the country as they ride in the fourth annual National Bike Challenge, a free event that runs from May 1 through Sept. 30.

Cyclists can ride in the National Bike Challenge as individuals, for their workplaces or on other teams, and the mileage they log also will help their cities and states in the rankings. In 2016 more than 45,000 cyclists rode nearly 25 million miles during the five months of the National Bike Challenge (stats weren’t available for 2017).

• 2018 National Bike Month list of Sitka events (PDF flier to print and post)

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(This photo and caption appeared in the Friday, March 16, 2018, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

BIKE PRESENTED —Mount Verstovia Masonic Lodge members, Ed Phillips, left, and Darrell Windsor, second from left, present a new bicycle to third-grader Alice Ann Ricketts, 8, center, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School class recently. Her mother, Kristin Bartels, right, and brother, Blake Ricketts Jr., sitting at right, are with her. The Sitka Mount Verstovia Masonic Lodge is once again donating a bicycle to one student from each third-grade class, who are selected by their teachers based on the students’ behavior in class and display of good citizenship. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop donates a helmet and lock as part of the prize. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

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