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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Are you looking for ways to make Alaska more walking and bicycling friendly? Sitka will host the inaugural Alaska Walk and Bike Conference on June 4-8.

While the agenda is still being finalized (a tentative agenda is posted below), there will be a two-day Smart Cycling class (from the League of American Bicyclists training program), and two days of work sessions about how to be a better bicycling and walking advocate. The last day includes a Saturday hike and bike ride, and maybe a harbor cruise.

Why is this conference in Sitka? Sitka is the only community in Alaska with both a Bicycle Friendly Community designation (Silver) and a Walk Friendly Communities designation (Bronze). This is a chance to see what works in Sitka, and some of the challenges it still faces in its efforts to become more walkable and bikeable.

Prices are low for this event — $25 for the Smart Cycling training on June 4-5, $25 for the Walk/Bike work sessions on June 6-7, or $40 for the whole conference. If we are able to secure the harbor cruise, there probably will be an extra fee for it. There also are special conference rates at the Aspen Hotel, which is downtown and within easy walking distance of most community facilities.

For more details, contact Doug Osborne at (907) 747-0373 or akwalkbikeconference@gmail.com.

• Tentative agenda for 2019 Alaska Walk and Bike Conference in Sitka

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, at the Fisheye Café (formerly North Sister Juice and Crepe 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 a review of our 2016 Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community application, a review of the Be Safe and Seen campaign in Sitka, the creation of a statewide biking/walking advocacy group (tentatively called Walk/Bike Alaska), a discussion about what we can do to make Sitka more bicycle friendly, and other topics.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Holly Marban at 966-8938.

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Getting around Sitka on foot or on a bike is good for your health, and it’s good for the environment. However it’s important that these activities are done safely.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition speaks about the importance of cities becoming more bicycle friendly. He also discussed upcoming projects by the coalition, and the importance for cyclists to wear bright, reflective clothes (such as his jacket) when they ride, especially during the dark winter months.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition speaks about the importance of cities becoming more bicycle friendly during a 2012 Sitka Assembly meeting. He also discussed upcoming projects by the coalition, and the importance for cyclists to wear bright, reflective clothes (such as his jacket) when they ride, especially during the dark winter months.

Sitka can be dark, especially in winter, and many bicycle and walker injuries happen in low visibility. Drivers can only stop or swerve for the people they see, so having lights, reflectors and high-visibility coats provides a great protective factor.  Thanks to donations from LFS Marine Supply and Grunden’s, a dozen high-visibility jackets will be raffled at various locations throughout Sitka:

  • Sitka Community Hospital’s Oceanside Therapy Center,
  • Tongass Threads,
  • the Sitka Public Library,
  • the Hames Center,
  • Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services Office,
  • Swan Lake Senior Center,
  • Salvation Army Little Store,
  • Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop,
  • Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School (2), and
  • Blatchley Middle School (2).

Having a coat that covers your whole upper body and can be seen from all sides is one way to be visible and stay seen as you walk the family dog, bike home from work, or go for a stroll anywhere near cars.

For more information on the “Be Safe and Seen in Sitka” campaign, contact Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital’s Director of Health Promotion, at 747-0373.

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RULES OF THE ROAD – Kids ride in formation along the side of Lincoln Street on Saturday, Sept. 15, during the fourth annual “Kidical Mass” family bike ride. Dozens of young riders and guardians rode bicycles to Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School where there were complimentary pedal-powered smoothies, door prizes and activities. The event, which is held to promote safe riding, also included free bike safety checks and helmet-fitting. The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, 4-H, UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office, Sitka Conservation Society, Youth Advocates of Sitka and Sitka Community Hospital helped organize the event. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, at the Fisheye Café (formerly North Sister Juice and Crepe 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 a wrap-up of the recent Kidical Mass family friendly bike ride held Sept. 15, scheduling monthly bike rides through the fall, the creation of a statewide biking/walking advocacy group (tentatively called Walk/Bike Alaska), a discussion about what we can do to make Sitka more bicycle friendly, and other topics.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Holly Marban at 966-8938.

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Cyclists of all ages are invited to join Sitka’s fourth “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. 15.

The group will bike to Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, where there will be complimentary pedal-powered smoothies, 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. 15 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 Sitka Community Hospital.  For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373.

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TWICE AS SAFE: Darby Osborne wears two helmets before a Sitka Community Bike Ride event several years ago.

Thursday, June 1, was the 13th anniversary of Sitka’s youth bicycle ordinance, and it’s a good time to remind parents that their children younger than age 18 are required to wear helmets when biking, skateboarding, inline skating, riding a scooter, or using any other similar vehicle in Sitka. If a child is caught riding without a helmet often enough, the parents will start receiving fines.

“The ground is very hard and unyielding so wearing a helmet that is level, snug and strapped is very important,” said Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion Doug Osborne, who lobbied for the ordinance 13 years ago when he worked with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “I know people who might not be here today if it wasn’t for their trusty helmet. Helmets save lives!”

According to the Center for Head Injury Services, 85 percent of all head injuries in bicycle wrecks can be prevented by wearing helmets, and about 75 percent of bicyclists who die after being in a wreck die from head injuries. The lifetime cost of a severe head injury can exceed $4 million. Considering most helmets cost between $10-$50, that’s a cheap investment for injury prevention.

Sitka was one of the first Alaska communities to adopt a youth helmet ordinance, and Sitka’s ordinance has been used as a statewide model by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Here’s the text of Sitka’s youth helmet ordinance.

 

11.70.010 Helmet requirements for young persons riding certain vehicles. (Revised 4/15)

A. It shall be unlawful for any person under eighteen years of age to operate or ride upon in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, coasters, toy motorized vehicles, gasoline or electric motor-driven cycles or scooters, bicycles, tricycles, unicycles, or any similar vehicles on any public property or private property that is open for public use within the city and borough of Sitka, including highways, streets, roads, bikeways or trails, or rights-of-way, unless that person wears a certified protective helmet that is properly fitted and that is properly fastened. This requirement also applies to any minor who rides in a restraining seat, trailer, backpack or similar child-restraining device used by someone who operates in-line or roller skates, skateboards, scooters, coasters, toy motor vehicles, gasoline or electric motor-driven cycles or scooters, bicycles, tricycles, or any similar vehicles. A parent or guardian having control or custody of a minor whose conduct violates this section shall be liable for the fine imposed by this section.

B. No parent or guardian of any minor shall allow the minor to violate this chapter.

C. A certified protective helmet is a helmet containing a manufacturer certification that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

D. For the first violation of this section, the individual cited will be given the opportunity to correct the citation by providing proof to the Sitka police department that a helmet was purchased or acquired otherwise for the minor. If such evidence is presented, the city and borough or court shall dismiss such citation. The fine for a violation of this section following a citation that has been dismissed based on the previous two sentences or sustained shall be twenty-five dollars. The fine for a violation that follows a violation that has resulted in a twenty-five dollar fine shall be fifty dollars. (Ord. 15-11 § 4 (part), 2015; Ord. 05-11 § 4, 2005.)

YoungboyRidesA reminder about bicycle helmets is they are designed for one major impact only and should be replaced after a wreck. The helmet may still look OK, but bike helmets are designed similar to a car fender, where it crumbles to absorb the impact of the blow (so your head doesn’t crumble). You also need to make sure the helmet you use is correct for your activity (for example, a BMX helmet is different than a standard bike helmet). Click this link, https://helmets.org/fit.htm, to learn how to properly fit a bicycle helmet.

“Helmets are a more fashionable than a sidewalk haircut,” Sitka cyclist Bill Giant said. “I’ll happily wear a helmet every day I don’t crash, because the one day I do crash I’ll be delighted I was wearing it. I’ve heard gravel scraping along my bike helmet during a bike crash, and I remember smiling and thinking ‘This helmet is saving my life.’ I lost some beautiful skin from my shoulder, but my face and hair are still impeccable. Some people find helmets uncomfortable. Everyone finds traumatic brain injuries uncomfortable. Wear a helmet.”

Bicycle helmets can be purchased from several locations in town, including Yellow Jersey Cycle ShopAC/Lakeside GroceryTrue ValueSea Mart, and even the White E thrift shop.

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 1, at the North Sister Juice and Crepe 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 a review and evaluation of recent events for National Bike Month in May, scheduling monthly bike rides through the summer, planning the annual Kidical Mass family friendly event in September, a discussion about what we can do to make Sitka more bicycle friendly, and other topics.

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

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