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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Health Promotion Program is holding a drawing for six high-visibility jackets to encourage Sitka residents to be active and bright this fall.

The drawings for the six high-visibility jackets (similar to the one in the photo above) take place on Monday, Nov. 4. Sitka residents can enter at the Sitka Public Library, Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, Tongass Threads, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, and Blatchley Middle School.

Being safe and seen is critical for anybody walking or biking during the winter, and having a high-visibility jacket with reflective tape on it can help improve your safety while allowing you to stay active. Click this link to read more about the importance of being safe and seen, and how you can order free reflective tape from the Center for Safe Alaskans.

For more information about the high-visibility jacket drawings in Sitka, contact SEARHC health educator Doug Osborne at 966-8674 or douglaso@searhc.org.

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When you walk or bike through Alaska during winter’s dark months, are you making sure to “Be Safe, Be Seen?”

Even though a pedestrian may be on sidewalks separated from cars, you still need to make sure your clothes are bright and reflective. That way drivers can see you when they leave their home and business driveways and enter traffic.

Why wearing white is not enough.

Too many people in Alaska wear black clothes during the winter, including when they are walking or biking. This doesn’t give the drivers a fighting chance to see you before it’s too late. Not only is it dark during the winter, but in heavy snow years there are berms that can make it difficult to see walkers and bikers. Also, some drivers don’t wait for their windshields to fully defrost, so their vision is obstructed.

The typical driver needs 260 feet to stop at 60 mph, but dark blue or black clothes only give them about 55 feet. Red clothes are a little bit better, giving drivers 80 feet, while yellow clothes give 120 feet and white clothes give 180 feet (if you can pick the person out from the snow background). People wearing reflectors can be seen as far away as 500 feet.

This is why many Alaska walkers and bikers wear reflective tape on their clothes or reflective vests, even on short trips such as checking the mail or walking the dog. Click here to learn more about the state’s Alaska Reflector Program. The Center for Safe Alaskans’ Bike and Walk Safe Program will mail free reflective tape to people who call (907) 929-3939, or click this link. The Center for Safe Alaskans (when it was known as the Alaska Injury Prevention Center) also produced a YouTube video that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.

Don’t forget to put reflective tape on your sleeves, backpack, rain pants, bike helmet and bike frame, not just on the trunk of your jacket. And if you’re biking, don’t forget you are required by state law to have a solid white light on front and red reflector on bike when you are on the road after dark.

“I have found that cutting the (reflective) tape length-wise and placing it on the jacket exterior on a moving part of the body (such as around the wrist area), in addition to placement on the torso, yields high visibility,” said Lulu Jensen, Center for Safe Alaskans project director.

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Salty Spoke Bike Co-op project leader Alyssa Russell, right, accepts a membership check from Joel Hanson.

From left, Alex Bayne, Kobi Weiland, Jake Falvey, Scott Menzies, Charlie Lowell, Alyssa Russell, and Joel Hanson after a week-long bike mechanic training course in August 2019 in Sitka to prepare bike mechanics for the opening of the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op.

The Salty Spoke Bike Co-op will host a soft opening from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center.

The new bike co-op is a membership cooperative, and the co-op is finalizing its membership program and how it will work.

The Salty Spoke Bike Co-op was formed after Sitka hosted the inaugural Alaska Walk and Bike Conference in early June. In August, Scott Menzies and Charlie Lowell of the Susitna Bicycle Institute in Anchorage came to Sitka to spend a week training several people in bike maintenance and to help them organize the co-op. Scott and Charlie also hosted a one-night bike maintenance workshop.

Co-op bike mechanics will be available to provide technical advice to members about basic repairs, and they will fix up old bikes (such as those sold at the police bike auctions) to sell to raise money to pay for co-op expenses.

The Salty Spoke Bike Co-op also was a recent winner of a $1,000 grant from the Awesome Foundation’s Alaska Chapter. The grant was used to buy tools and other supplies for the co-op.

For more information or to make a donation of money or old bikes (checks should be made out to Sitka Cycling Club), contact Alyssa Russell at aruss947@gmail.com or Doug Osborne at douglaso@searhc.org or 738-8734.

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The Sitka Cycling Club (formerly known as the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition) will hold its monthly meeting from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Sitka Public Library. This meeting is open to all interested folks.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include brainstorming ideas on how to grow our Sitka Cycling Club; a discussion about what we can do to make Sitka more bicycle friendly; a discussion of monthly club bike rides this summer; a recap of the inaugural Sitka Half Century Ride; an update on the new Sitka bike co-op; a recap of the family friendly Kidical Mass bike ride on Sept. 14; discussion of International Walk/Bike To School Day on Oct. 2; the launch of a new Be Safe, Be Seen safety campaign; and other topics.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 738-8734.

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walk-to-school-1

WalkToSchoolDay_HomepageMapNot too long ago, most of us walked or biked to school. But now, most kids arrive at school via their parents’ cars or school buses. Wednesday, Oct. 2, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren safely walk or bike to school on this day.

In 1970, more than half of all elementary school students ages 6-11 walked to school. By 2006, only 15 percent were walking to school. Alarmed by this trend, a group called the Partnership for a Walkable America started National Walk To School Day in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. In addition to expanding into several other countries, the dates also have expanded and October is International Walk To School Month.

“Walking or biking to school is an excellent way to add some physical activity into your day,” said Doug Osborne, a health educator with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “It can be a great way to start the day. Walking or biking can be a lot of fun. It’s also important to remember to be safe.”

WBTSD_12inch_ColorWalking or biking to school with their children is a good way for parents to catch up on what’s happening in their children’s lives. Other benefits to walking or biking to school include less traffic, cleaner air, and friendlier communities. Walking with their children is a good way for parents see if there are things along the route that can be done to improve safety, such as improving lighting, checking crosswalks and watching for aggressive pets along the route.

International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day is a great teaching tool for safety. Parents and teachers can teach the kids about road safety rules and the importance of being visible when they walk or bike alongside the roads. They also can check their kids’ clothes and backpacks to make sure they have reflective tape on them.

Why wearing white is not enough.

Reflective tape is particularly important as we enter the dark months of the winter. Students need to Be Safe, Be Seen, and reflective tape can make a big difference in their visibility. Not only are kids sometimes hard to be seen because they’re blocked by cars, but many cars in Southeast Alaska experience condensation problems during the fall and winter that make it hard to see through windshields. Reflective tape and blinking lights can make it so kids are seen hundreds of feet before they would be if they wore plain dark clothes. Parents can buy reflective tape from local sporting goods, fabric, and similar stores. Sometimes it’s available from local health organizations. The Center for Safe Alaskans (formerly known as the Alaska Injury Prevention Center) produced a YouTube video (also embedded below) that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see, and will have some free reflective tape available starting in October 2019.

To learn more about International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, contact your local school to see if any events are scheduled, or check with the Alaska Safe Routes To School program. The official International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day website also has a lot of information about how to set up an event for your school, including tool kits to help you arrange an event. Even if your kids don’t walk the entire way to school, you can drop them off a mile or so away and walk in with them. Many parents create walking school buses to bring several students who live in the same area to school together in one group.

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The weather forecast was for rain, but instead it was sunny and perfect weather for the fifth annual Kidical Mass family oriented bike ride Saturday, Sept. 14.

This event, which drew about 40-50 riders, featured a ride of about 1.5 miles from the tennis courts/Sitka Community Playground across from Sheldon Jackson Campus to the Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School covered playground area. It was held in conjunction with dozens of other Kidical Mass rides around the world, as Sept. 14 was declared Kidical Massive with the hope of having the biggest family bike ride ever, according to Kidical Massive organizers in Eugene, Ore.

Kidical Mass is a legal, safe and FUN bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. The first ride was held in 2008 in Eugene, Ore., and has now spread to dozens of communities throughout North America and beyond. Kidical Mass rides encourage safe riding for kids and families, with education about how to safely ride on the roads.

The Sitka Kidical Mass ride featured bike safety checks, bike helmet fitting (reminder, Sitka has a youth bike helmet ordinance with all riders age 18 or younger required to use a helmet), door prizes, bike skills events, and a variety of snacks.

Local organizers include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition4-HUAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District OfficeSitka Conservation SocietyYouth Advocates of Sitka, and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).

A slideshow of scenes from the ride is posted below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Cyclists of all ages are invited to join Sitka’s fifth “Kidical Mass” family bike ride, which is scheduled to start at the Sitka Community Playground across from Sheldon Jackson Campus at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14.

The group will bike to Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, where there will be complimentary snacks, door prizes and fun activities. There also will be free bike safety checks and helmet-fitting before the ride starts, so get to the playground/tennis courts early.

Each participant will need a bike, a helmet (Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance for everybody age 18 or younger), and an adult (or kid-at-heart) to ride with. Kidical Mass events encourage family participation and teaching young riders bike safety on the road. We will have a few new helmets available for those who need them.

Kidical Mass is a legal, safe and FUN bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. The first ride was held in 2008 in Eugene, Ore., and has now spread to dozens of communities throughout North America and beyond. Kidical Mass rides encourage safe riding for kids and families, with education about how to safely ride on the roads.

Sept. 14 has been dubbed “Kidical Massive” by the Oregon organizers, who are calling for Kidical Mass rides in dozens of communities that they estimate will be the biggest global family bike ride ever. Sitka hosted its first Kidical Mass event as part of Kidical Massive in 2015, and you can see photos by clicking this link. Sitka’s second Kidical Mass ride was in 2016, and photos can be found here. Photos from Sitka’s third Kidical Mass in 2017 can be found here.

Local organizers include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition4-HUAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District OfficeSitka Conservation SocietyYouth Advocates of Sitka, and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).  For more information, call Doug Osborne at 738-8734.

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