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Archive for the ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ Category

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 2, at the North Sister Crepes and Juice Company (located on Seward Street next to Subway).

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include planning upcoming events for National Bike Month in May, a review of the recent Sitka Winter Clean Commute Challenge, and other topics.

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

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For once Sitka had a bit of winter weather on International Winter Bike To Work/School Day, but there still were some hearty souls who braved the high winds, rain, hail, snow, ice and cold to ride their bikes on Feb. 9. We didn’t have a lot of snow, but it was cold and there was some ice.

Our numbers were down a bit compared to past years, but more than a dozen cyclists filled out tickets at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop to be entered into our local prize drawing. There were a couple of full bike racks around town, so more people probably rode than entered. We only had a couple of people register to ride on the international website, so Sitka didn’t do as well in the overall standings as it has in past years. In 2014, Sitka finished second in per capita number of riders. This year there were 44 cyclists from the Anchorage area, three from Sitka, two from Juneau and one from Fairbanks who registered their rides on the international website (there were 16 tickets entered at Yellow Jersey).

 

After two straight years of finishing second in the overall standings, Novi Sad, Serbia, knocked off three-time winner Zagreb, Croatia, with a record 1,393 participants (including 115 kids). Two Colorado communities finished second and third this year, with Denver recording 1,165 riders and Boulder 817. Zagreb finished fourth with 621, followed by Skopje, Macedonia, with 471. Rounding out the top 10 finishers were 2014 winner Oulu, Finland, in sixth place with 334 riders, Hamburg, Germany, in seventh with 231, Stockholm, Sweden, in eighth with 224, St. Petersburg, Russia, in ninth with 223, and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in 10th place with 218 cyclists. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, had the most riders in 2013, the first year, when the event was almost entirely Canadian.)

Here are the prize winners from Friday (winners can pick up their prizes at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, if they haven’t already):

  • Sara Bergendahl — $25 gift certificate from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop
  • John Ingman — $25 gift certificate from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop

Thank you to those who rode, and to Bill Hughes of Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop for donating the two 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 sixth annual International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 9. This year also is the third annual International Winter Bike To School Day on Feb. 9, so watch out for younger cyclists.

New this year, your ride on Feb. 9 can be used in the Winter Clean Commute Challenge, where people are encouraged to walk or bike instead of drive during the month of February.

Our celebration of winter cycling in Sitka will be simple. First, go to the International Winter Bike To Work Day website, http://winterbiketoworkday.org/, and commit to riding to work on Friday, Feb. 9 (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. 9, 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 gift card from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and other goodies from businesses around town.

This is the sixth 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). The 2017 standings link wasn’t working on the website, but Zagreb won again. There now are ways businesses and schools can compete.

For students, go to the International Bike To School Day website, http://winterbiketoschoolday.org/, and commit to riding to school on Friday, Feb. 9. All of Sitka’s public schools should be listed on the site (including the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus). Teachers can do a quick, 30-second survey about how students got to school to help their school’s Bike-Walk-Roll Score.

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 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com 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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The City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department will host two public meetings — at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at Harrigan Centennial Hall — to discuss the Lincoln Street Improvements project.

The project includes the replacement of lining of deteriorated storm drainpipes, grinding and overlay of existing pavement, upgrading of ADA (American Disability Act) ramps, replacement of limited sidewalk and installation of red concrete crosswalks. The public is encouraged to attend to see the proposed improvements and provide public input.

For more information, contact Public Works at 747-1806.

• Lincoln Street Improvements meeting handout

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Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), in collaboration with the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, Walk Sitka, and Sitka Health Summit, will host the Sitka Winter Clean Commute Challenge during the month of February.

This event is a walking and/or bicycling commuting challenge where Sitkans can record and report their mileages while reducing carbon emissions, improving their health, and possibly winning prizes. This event starts on Feb. 1 and ends on Feb. 28. There will be a kick-off meeting from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Sitka Public Library.

“Leave gas-powered vehicles behind with Sitka’s winter bike and walk challenge in February to help the planet, your health, and your wallet,” SEARHC Health Educator Holly Marban said. “Help us achieve our goal of keeping 500 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in February. Just send us the number of miles you biked or walked instead of using a gas-powered car, and we’ll calculate how many pounds of carbon dioxide you helped to keep out of the atmosphere.”

“One of the many great things about Sitka is that compact and with the right gear and safety practices people can walk or bike year around,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion. “I’m excited to be part of this effort that really supports the Sitka Health Summit’s new CO2 reducers action group that formed this fall to reduce the main greenhouse gas that’s driving climate change.”

To participate, take at least one trip on foot or by bike in February, then log the miles you walked or biked in place of vehicle use. Every Friday in February, email the miles you logged that week to sitkacleancommute@gmail.com, and you will be entered to win awesome prizes, such as reflective gear, waterproof bags, and ice cleats. The first 20 people to send in miles walked or biked will receive a free reflective wrist band.

Remember to be safe and visible on your commute. Always wear reflective gear in low lighting, a helmet when biking, and ice cleats when walking in slippery conditions. Participants will be able to record their bike rides for International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 9 (there also is a bike to school division), or the kids can record their walks on Winter Walk Day on Wednesday, Feb. 7  (note, this is an event from Canada, but we get similar weather so why not).

Questions can be directed to sitkacleancommute@gmail.com, hmarban@searhc.org, or dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

• Winter Clean Commute Challenge carbon equivalents for distances walked or biked

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from 1-2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11, at the Sitka Public Library (note, this is a change from our usual meeting time, date and location because North Sister Crepes and Juice Company is closed this month).

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include the launch of a winter bike/walk campaign in February, International Winter Bike To Work Day on Feb. 9, the planning a series of winter cycling workshops, a discussion of bike racks and bike infrastructure, and a conversation about our goals for the next six months.

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

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Sitka is lucky because our mild climate allows most of us to bike and walk throughout the winter. But cyclists and walkers also need to take care to make sure they can be seen by drivers, especially since there is so little daylight this time of year. In recent weeks the Sitka Police have recorded several car-walker, car-cyclist, and cyclist-walker collisions, and said visibility was an issue in most of them.

Take a look at the photo above. Can you see the cyclist? This cyclist just rode through one of Sitka’s best-lighted intersections (Lincoln Street and Lake Street), but he’s wearing dark clothes and you can’t see him even though he does have a working taillight. By the way, the cyclist is in the right center of the photo, between the car’s taillights and the fire hydrant, near the Moose Lodge parking lot. There also is a walker ready to cross the street in front of Stereo North, who has some reflective bands on his sleeves but could use a bright jacket.

This time of the year provides special problems when it comes to visibility. In addition to fewer daylight hours, there also are problems with window condensation in cars and the lower sun angles sometimes can be in the eyes of drivers.  When it rains or snows, that also can obscure visibility. Even though pedestrians aren’t in the roads as much as cyclists, they still need to be visible to traffic especially at driveways and other crosswalks.

So how do you make yourself more visible, like the cyclist in the second photo (in the orange jacket with reflective tape)?

First, Alaska state laws require cyclists riding outside the daylight hours to have at least one working headlight that can emit a beam of light for at least 500 feet, a working taillight that can be seen from at least 500 feet, and reflectors (see Page 2). To make themselves more visible and to help light their way, many Sitka cyclists will have more than one headlight, taillight and reflector on their bike.

Next, wear white or bright clothes that can be seen at night. Many Sitka cyclists and walkers have started wearing traffic yellow or traffic orange rain jackets, which are designed to be visible at great distances. Some of these jackets have built-in reflective tape. Other people wear reflective vests, similar to what construction workers wear.

Finally, get some reflective tape and wrap it around your bike frame. You can purchase your own reflective items at most outdoors gear stores in Sitka. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center in Anchorage used to provide free reflective tape by clicking this link (they may not have it available now), but the AIPC website has tips about how to Walk Safe and Bike Safe. The link has a chart showing how reflective tape can increase a person’s visibility, even more so than wearing lighter clothes. If you have kids who walk or bike a lot, put the reflective tape all over their clothes, backpacks and lunch pails. You also can find elastic bands with reflective tape, or reflective tape built into jackets, hats and even shoes.

Remember, we are sharing the roads and so we should do what we can to make it easier for drivers to see us. Not only should we Be Safe, Be Seen, but we also need to follow the rules of the road by riding our bikes on the right side of traffic (ride with traffic, and walk on the left facing traffic) and in a predictable manner.

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