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Monday through Friday, May 14-18, is National Bike To Work Week this year, and the schedule of Sitka events is fuller than normal for the week.

As usual, people who bicycle to work each day can stop by Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and fill out an entry ticket for the contest to win a gift certificate from the store (the winning ticket is drawn at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 19). But this year there are other events each day of the week to help keep people riding their bikes.

On Monday, cyclists can start of the week with a free morning cup of coffee or tea (eight ounces or 12 ounces) from the Backdoor Café between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Riders must show a helmet to qualify.

On Tuesday, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) hosts one of its Doc Talks at 6 p.m. at the Sitka Public Library. The Doc Talks speaker will by physical therapist Gio Villanueva, who will discuss “Exercise as Medicine.”

On Wednesday, Sitka joins the Worldwide Ride of Silence with a short, quiet ride through downtown Sitka. Cyclists are asked to meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor Shelter for ride instructions and a brief Blessing of the Bikes with Rev. Julie Platson before we start riding at 7 p.m. The Worldwide Ride of Silence is a series of rides that take place in communities all over the world at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday in May to honor those cyclists who have been killed or injured while riding. Bike helmets are required for this event.

On Thursday, cyclists will be able to use pedal-power to make their own smoothies at North Sister Juice & Crepe Co. from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and they’ll get a 20-percent discount on lunch. Again, cyclists need to show their helmets to get the discount.

Friday, May 18, is National Bike To Work Day, and there will be a celebration of cyclists at the Sitka Health Summit‘s monthly Wooch.een luncheon at noon at the Sitka Community Hospital downstairs classroom. Some businesses in town are hosting special events for employees who ride to work on Friday (for example, SEARHC employees who show their helmets and ID badges can get a free lunch at the Island Skillet in Mount Edgecumbe Hospital).

Don’t forget there is a variety of other events during May, which is National Bike Month, so click this link to see a full schedule of events in Sitka. Other National Bike Month events include a Cross Trail guided bike ride, National Bike To School Day, the Sitka Bike Rodeo, and the Sitka Community Bike Ride.

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

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

This year’s prizes include a trip to New Zealand, a trip to the Grand Canyon, a $1,000 voucher from your local bike store, a $250 voucher from your local bike store, a set of monkey lights, a set of lane lights, and a variety of other bike gear.

Cyclists can ride as individuals, for their workplaces or on other teams, and the mileage they log also will help their cities and states in the rankings. This event launched in 2012, but some changes the last few years make it easier for people to participate. The challenge was extended a month a couple of years ago, so it now is five months long and covers the entire summer. During the 2016 National Bike Challenge, 45,982 cyclists rode 24,749,196 miles.

Participants can record the miles of their commute to work, as well as logging their various errands around town and pleasure rides, just so long as they ride an actual bike outdoors. It doesn’t count if people use machines or trainers.

It’s easy to participate. Just go to the website, create a profile and log in your miles. You also can join teams from the website. For those of you with smartphones, you can create a profile on Strava and the app’s global-positioning system tracking will record your workouts directly into your National Bike Challenge profile. If you don’t use Strava, you can use one of a variety of apps, such as Ride Report or Map My Ride, to automatically record your ride. For each day you ride, you receive 20 points plus one point for each mile ridden.

There already are several teams in Alaska, including one called Sitka Cyclists that Sitka residents can join. In previous years we also had a couple of workplace teams, including teams from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. Due to some recent changes to the program and website, the old workplace team pages aren’t available so someone will have to create new ones. We encourage Sitka teams to participate so we can get a little friendly competition going.

For those who miss the May 1 start date, if you’ve been riding you can back-record your workouts so long as you create a profile before the end of May. There are monthly prizes (awarded by random draw to cyclists nationwide who score at least 100 points in the month), and additional prizes at the end of the contest.

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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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Getting around Sitka on foot or bike is good for the environment and your health. It is important to make sure it’s done safely, especially while traveling at night.

Walkers — people who travel by foot, wheelchair or stroller — and bicyclists are among the most vulnerable users of our roads. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the next 24 hours, on average, 445 people in the U.S. will be treated in an emergency department for traffic-related pedestrian injuries.

Sitka can be dark, especially in the winter months, and many of the bicyclist and walker fatalities happen in low visibility. Drivers can only stop or swerve for the people they see. Lights, reflectors and high-visibility coats offer a level of protection.

Thanks to Grundens and Murray Pacific, Sitka Community Hospital will be raffling off high-visibility rain coats at various locations throughout Sitka. These raffles will take place at Sitka Public Library, Hames Center, Salvation Army Little Store, Tongass Threads, Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services, Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, Swan Lake Senior Center, Sitka Public Health Center, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School and Sitka Community Hospital’s Oceanside Therapy Center.  The drawings will start as early as Oct. 30 and are open to all.

Having a coat that covers you and can be seen from all sides is a great way to stay safe and seen. For more information on the Safe and Seen in Sitka campaign, contact Sitka Community Hospital’s Director of Health Promotion Doug Osborne at 747-0373.

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Have you seen a SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) provider in Sitka in the past year? If so, SEARHC wants to give you $100 toward a new bike from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop during the month of September. In partnership, Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop also is offering $50 worth of safety accessories when you purchase a bike with this promotion.

New patients can take advantage of this offer, too. Just schedule an appointment with a Sitka SEARHC provider before the end of September.

SEARHC’s Sitka Campus is one of 11 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Alaska, and the only one outside Anchorage. This promotion demonstrates SEARHC’s continued passion for bikes.

Learn more by calling 966-8938 or sending an email to fitnesscenter@searhc.org.

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, July 21, at the North Sister Crepes and Juice Company (located on Seward Street next to Subway). Please note this is a change of location from where we usually meet.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include planning for the commuter bike portion of a summer fitness challenge that starts in August.

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

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