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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

(This photo and caption appeared in the Friday, April 7, 2017, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

BIKE PRESENTED — Finneus Wentworth holds onto a new bicycle and helmet after they were presented to him by Sitka Masons Darrell Windsor, right, and Jerald Neel recently in Megan Fondell’s Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School class. 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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(This photo and caption appeared in the Friday, March 24, 2017, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

BIKE PRESENTED — Roger Manzanilla, center, stands with Mount Verstovia Masonic Lodge members Bob Purvis, left, and Darrell Windsor, right, as Roger’s daughter Sandy, 9, is presented with a new bicycle recently at her Keet Gooshi Heen class. The 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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Cyclists pose before the Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 28, 2016, through downtown Sitka. The event also celebrated the 125th anniversary of the first recorded arrival of a bicycle in Sitka, which arrived at this dock.

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, at the Larkspur Café (NOTE: This is a change of date from what originally was announced).

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include planning a series of events for the upcoming National Bike Month in May (as well as National Bike To Work Week/Day and National Bike To School Day events), and planning for a “Ride ‘Em All” program this summer to encourage cyclists to ride every road and trail in Sitka.

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

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Doug Osborne, front, wears one of the GAGE high-visibility jackets during the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration in January 2012. Sitka Community Hospital will distribute 18 of the high-visibility jackets to walkers and cyclists during an event Wednesday night at the Stratton Library.

Doug Osborne, front, leads cyclists during the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration in January 2012.

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Larkspur Café.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include the recent Bicycle Friendly Business award renewal for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and discussion of how we can get other Sitka businesses to apply, planning for the upcoming International Winter Bike to Work/School Day events on Feb. 10, and planning for a “Ride ‘Em All” program this summer to encourage cyclists to ride every road and trail in Sitka.

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

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The League of American Bicyclists on Dec. 21, announced that the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) has been awarded a renewal of its 2011 Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business award.

SEARHC is the only Alaska organization among the 42 new and returning businesses nationwide to earn an award during the Fall 2016 cycle. There now are 1,265 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in 49 states at the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze levels (there also is an Honorable Mention level not included in the total).

“This is great news!” SEARHC Health Educator II Anthony Treas said. “We are happy to have attained the Bronze status as a Bicycle Friendly Business. We will use this as a stepping stone as we continue to seek how we can improve and ultimately for SEARHC to achieve Gold status.”

bfb-bronze-sealSince the Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program started in 2009, there have been 11 businesses in Alaska to earn the honor. SEARHC is the only one of the group located outside of Anchorage. Besides SEARHC, the current BFBs in Alaska are — the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (gold), Southcentral Foundation (gold), CRW Engineering Group LLC (silver), ECI/Hyer Inc. (bronze), Green Star Inc. (bronze), Kittelson & Associates Inc.-Anchorage (bronze), Providence Alaska Medical Center (bronze), R&M Consultants Inc. (bronze), REI Anchorage (bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (honorable mention).

The Bicycle Friendly Business program honors those businesses committed to making their businesses more bike friendly for employees and customers. These organizations come from a wide range of industries, such as health care, manufacturing and government. They also range from large Fortune 50 company headquarters to small mom-and-pop businesses with only a handful of employees.

“As these businesses make bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation they play a vital role in transforming our nation into a safer, healthier and more sustainable place to live and work,” League of American Bicyclists Executive Director Alex Doty said. “We congratulate and thank this new round of businesses for leading the way in creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

The Bicycle Friendly Business program provides a free roadmap for businesses wanting to make their organizations more friendly to bikes. Businesses have to complete a lengthy application that includes information about the number of bike commuters, facilities available for them (such as racks, showers and lockers), education programs and ways the business connects with the local bicycle community.

SEARHC is Sitka’s largest employer with about 550-570 employees in town, and SEARHC is the region’s largest private employer with just more than 1,000 total employees. The SEARHC Sitka campus took an active role in Sitka’s 2008 application to become the first Bicycle Friendly Community in Alaska (Bronze), and also helped in Sitka’s 2012 (Bronze) and 2016 (Silver) renewal Bicycle Friendly Community applications. SEARHC promotes healthy and safe cycling to its employees and the community through its health promotion, injury prevention and employee wellness programs.

Winners of the Bicycle Friendly Business award are allowed to use the designation for the next four years. To learn more about the BFB program, go to http://bikeleague.org/business. Sitka businesses interested in applying can contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

The BFB program is part of the League of American Bicyclist’s larger Bicycle Friendly America program that also includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly University programs. Alaska now has three Bronze-level or higher Bicycle Friendly Communities — Sitka (Silver), Anchorage (Silver) and Juneau (Bronze), with Fairbanks earning an Honorable Mention designation in November 2016. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (Silver) is the only Bicycle Friendly University in the state. In 2015, Alaska ranked 41st in the Bicycle Friendly State rankings, up from 43rd in 2014.

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Sitka Health Summit Poster FINAL

newsitkahealthsummitlogoDo you have any good community wellness ideas for Sitka? It’s time 10th annual Sitka Health Summit planning day, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The Sitka Health Summit got its start in 2007 when then-Sitka Community Hospital CEO Moe Chaudry and then-SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton decided they needed to bridge the gaps between Sitka’s largest two health services. They launched the Sitka Health Summit, with the help of other supporters in Sitka, as a way to improve community wellness, honor local wellness champions, and more.

One of the highlights of the Sitka Health Summit has been the annual community wellness planning day. During planning day, Sitka residents get together to discuss the health needs of the community and create community wellness projects to address these needs.

Over the years there have been a variety of Sitka Health Summit projects — create a local market for local fish and produce, build a Sitka community greenhouse, become a Bicycle Friendly Community, become a Walk Friendly Community, encourage more kids and families to get outdoors for recreation, support a community health and wellness center (Hames), plant fruit trees around town, get more local fish into school lunches, build a Choose Respect mural, Revitalize Sitka, the Sick-a-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food AssessmentPark PrescriptionsTogether for a Meth-Free Sitka, the Sitka Kitch (a project to create a community rental kitchen and improve Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity), Celebrate Katlian Street: A Vibrant Community, and the Southeast Youth Resource Guide.

The 2015 Sitka Health Summit projects were to develop an American Disabilities Act-compliant Sitka Community Playground near Crescent Harbor, build a community garden plot behind the Island Institute (this started off as a project to build a community greenhouse on top of the Sitka cold storage plant, but it morphed into a different project), and to create a way to honor and support the well-being of elders in Sitka.

This year, Sitka residents are invited to submit community wellness project ideas before the Sitka Health Summit. They can do this by going to the Sitka Health Summit website, http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/, and clicking on the Submit Ideas link at the top of the gateway page (link opens a short SurveyMonkey survey). You also can submit ideas to Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or dosborne@sitkahospital.org. The top two projects this year will receive $2,000 in seed money to get the projects started.

To register for the Sitka Heath Summit planning day, call Zachary Desmond at 747-4600 or email him at zachary@braveheartvolunteers.org. In your email, please include your name, email address, phone number, organization (you can list self if you’re not representing an organization), and any food restrictions. A free lunch with locally sourced seafood (in honor of the Fish To Schools project from 2010) will be provided.

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Doug Osborne, left, and Charles Bingham of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition hold Sitka's new Bicycle Friendly Community sign and certificate letter. The League of American Bicyclists announced on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, that Sitka is now a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community after winning the Bronze level award in 2008 and 2012. (Photo by Ken Sprague)

Doug Osborne, left, and Charles Bingham of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition hold Sitka’s new Bicycle Friendly Community sign and certificate letter. The League of American Bicyclists announced on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, that Sitka is now a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community after winning the Bronze level award in 2008 and 2012. (Photo by Ken Sprague)

BFC_Silver_Seal_2016Sitka is moving up. After winning two Bronze-level designations in the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program in 2008 and 2012, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) announced on Wednesday, May 18, that Sitka is now at the Silver level for the next four years.

With the announcement of 34 new and renewing BFCs Wednesday, Sitka is one of 372 communities in all 50 states to hold a Bicycle Friendly Community designation. Of those 372 communities, there are zero at the Diamond level (the highest), five at the Platinum level, 25 at the Gold level, 73 at the Silver level, and 269 at the Bronze level.

Sitka was Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008, and the first to repeat in 2012. Since then, Anchorage (Bronze level 2009, Silver 2013) and Juneau (Bronze level 20011, Bronze level 2015) have joined the ranks of Bicycle Friendly Communities. According to the League of American Bicyclists, the BFC award recognizes Sitka’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell, right front, prepares to lead cyclists in the 2015 Sitka Community Bike Ride

Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell, right front, prepares to lead cyclists in the 2015 Sitka Community Bike Ride and Picnic

“We applaud these communities for making bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation,” said Bill Nesper, Vice President of Programs at the League of American Bicyclists. “We are encouraged by the growing number of leaders who see bicycling as a way to build more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected communities and be a part of the solution to many complex challenges faced at both the community and national levels. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

“Sitka moving from the Bronze level to Silver shows that cycling is an important part of our community for many Sitkans,” Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell said. “Initiatives have occurred in recent years that are focused on bicyclists, such as raising awareness of bicycle safety, and providing wide bike lanes on a repaved street.”

Becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community was one of the community wellness initiatives from the first Sitka Health Summit in October 2007. At the summit, Sitkans said they wanted to become friendlier to bikers and walkers in town, and residents started gathering information for our first application in 2008. A few years later, a Walk Friendly Communities program (modeled after the BFC program) was initiated and in 2013 Sitka became the first Alaska community to win a Bronze level award. Juneau has an honorable mention WFC designation.

When Sitka first applied for a BFC designation in 2008, it led the state (for communities larger than 600 people) with 2.87 percent commuting to work by bike, according to the American Community Survey compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. By the time Sitka sent in its second renewal application in February 2016, Sitka had nearly doubled its bike commuting percentage to 5.42 percent. That’s nearly 10 times the percentage of bike commuters nationwide (0.6 percent), and five times the Alaska average of 1.1 percent.

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Cyclists pose for a group photo after Sitka’s first family friendly Kidical Mass ride in August 2015.

“Your application really painted a great picture of the improvements made in Sitka since its last application,” said Ken McLeod, State and Local Policy Manager for LAB. “Sitka was on the border of earning a Silver in its Spring 2012 application due to the high percentage of people biking to work, strong youth education programs, and a diversity of initiatives that pointed toward a shared community investment in creating a great place to ride a bike.

“In Sitka’s most recent application we saw that all of the great things that were in place in 2012 had been expanded upon. In particular, we were happy to see that bicycle facilities expanded with an additional 10 miles of on‐street bike facilities and seven more miles of off‐street paths. It also was great to hear that there was a noticeable culture shift so that motorists were more accommodating and considerate to bicyclists, thanks to the sustained high levels of bicycling in Sitka. This culture change may have been reinforced by an expansion of community bike activities, including the creation of a Bicycle Advisory Committee — a key feedback point from the 2012 application — and the creation of the Sitka Community Bike Ride and Potluck (in 2015), which included the Mayor as its lead rider. While Sitka is a unique community given its location and weather, we see it as a great example of the power of low‐stress streets and the ability of any community to become a great place to ride.”

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Bike mechanic Bill The Giant works on a bike before the Sitka Community Bike Ride and Picnic in May 2015.

Sitka has a unique bicycle culture compared to many noted bike communities. While Sitka has had a few cyclists do well in state and national races, there isn’t much of a racing community in Sitka like there is in other cities. You rarely see the Spandex-clad bicycle racers in Sitka. Instead, most Sitka cyclists are biking to work or school, to run errands or just to have fun, frequently wearing rain gear or using studded tires in the winter. In recent years Sitka has hosted bike safety camps for youth riders, held a campaign to get bicyclists and walkers to be more visible when they ride (note all the traffic yellow jackets or reflective tape people now wear), and increased the number of cycling events such as hosting the Sitka Community Bike Ride in May, a Kidical Mass family friendly ride in August, and on the International Winter Bike To Work/School Day in February.

“This is a great accomplishment for our town and so many people have played a role in helping us to advance,” said Doug Osborne, co-coordinator of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition. “A big thanks to all the courteous cyclists who share the road, all the drivers who drive free of distractions, all the cyclists who model safe practices such as riding with traffic, and finally all the organizations that provide accommodations for bikes and places for people to ride.”

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Sitka cyclist Stan Schoening rides his bike to KCAW for his radio show on International Bike To Work Day in February 2016.

This week (May 16-20) is National Bike To Work Week, and Friday, May 20, is National Bike To Work Day. Sitka cyclists who commute to work or school can enter for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate from the Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop or a $50 massage from Oceanside Physical Therapy by filling out tickets each time they ride at Yellow Jersey. The winning tickets will be drawn at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 21, at Blatchley Middle School.

On National Bike To Work Day on Friday, cyclists who show their bike helmets between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. will receive a 15-percent discount on lunch at the Larkspur Café. The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet at noon on Friday at the Larkspur to finalize plans for the Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 28, when we will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the first bike seen in Sitka (on May 28, 1891). People should meet at 10 a.m. on May 28 for bike checks and maintenance, helmet fittings and a variety of contests such as oldest bike, most unique bike or most visible bike. At 11 a.m. on May 28 we will have a group ride through downtown Sitka.

For more information about the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition and the Bicycle Friendly Community award, go to https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com/, or contact Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Charles Bingham at 623-7660.

• Bicycle Friendly Community report card for Sitka, Spring 2016

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