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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

The Sitka Cycling Club will hold its monthly meeting from 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, at the Sitka Public Library. This meeting is open to all interested folks interested in promoting safe and fun cycling in Sitka.

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 covered bike parking, building single-track mountain bike trails off the Sitka Cross Trail, the grand opening of the Salty Spoke Bicycle Collective, club goals for 2020, the renewal process for our Bicycle Friendly Community designation this summer, and other topics.

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

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During its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, the Sitka Assembly passed by a 7-0 vote (link goes to video from meeting) a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Sitka Cycling Club to build singletrack trails off the Sitka Cross Trail near Sitka High School.

The project will start small, with one or two trails being built according to the map above. The planned trails already are used as game trails, and the plan is to clean them up so a cyclist can ride a mountain bike on them. Singletrack trails are narrow trails through the woods that promote more technical cycling skills than the larger multi-use Cross Trail. The singletrack trails are designed for cyclists only, no hikers, and the trails will put cyclists deeper into the woods and away from other trail traffic.

If the first trails are considered a success, the Sitka Cycling Club plans to build more singletrack trails on city, USDA Forest Service, and other land around town. In addition to promoting health, singletrack trails also have been shown to strengthen local, state and national economies. Towns with extensive trail systems that include singletrack trails have seen a growth in bicycle tourism, where people travel specifically to a location to ride bikes they either bring with them or rent on location.

The trails will be built to the guidelines established by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) for the construction of new singletrack trails.

• Sitka Assembly motion to pass the MOU with Sitka Cycling Club

• Interim City Manager Hugh Bevan’s memo to the Sitka Assembly about the MOU

• The MOU between the Sitka Cycling Club and City and Borough of Sitka

• The Use and Maintenance Agreement (Permit) between the Sitka Cycling Club and City and Borough of Sitka

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Are you looking for ways to make Alaska more walking and bicycling friendly? Sitka will host the second annual Alaska Walk and Bike Conference on June 9-13, with the theme of Walk.Bike.Roll. Creating an Equitable Transportation System For All.

While the agenda is still being finalized, but the plan is to bring in a couple of national speakers talk about walking and biking policy, as well as some Alaska and local presenters to round out the event. Our tentative national speakers are Ken McLeod, policy director of the League of American Bicyclists, and Ana Lucaci and Nicole Huguenin of Walk2Connect, a Denver-based nonprofit that has recently worked with Kodiak Walks.

The first two days will mostly be geared toward walking and the second two days will be geared toward biking. To get you out of the conference room, we hope to include group hikes, bike rides, a walk audit, a bike maintenance workshop, and other events throughout the week. Saturday features some free community events — a guided hike, a Sitka Cycling Club group bike ride, and an open house at the Salty Spoke Bike Collective. We will post a tentative agenda when it is ready.

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, learn more about Walk Sitka and the Sitka Cycling Club and how they deal with some of the challenges they still face in their efforts to become more walkable and bikeable.

Prices for the Alaska Walk and Bike Conference are low — $50 for the full conference, or $30 for the two days of June 9-10 or June 11-12. This year we also will have a special half-day price for either a morning or afternoon session. There will be a couple of lunchtime events, such as lunch-and-learns, that will be open to the public.

Please use this website to register online. We accept online payments by PayPal or credit/debit cards, and if you select the invoice option there is info about where to mail your check. You can find more details about the event at http://walkbikealaska.wordpress.com. You can register at http://akwalkbikeconference.eventsmart.com (click on the event name and follow the instructions).

For more details, contact Doug Osborne at (907) 966-8674 or douglaso@searhc.org, or email akwalkbikeconference@gmail.com. We will have a limited number of travel scholarships available. To learn more and to get an application, contact Dawn Groth at dawn.groth@alaska.gov.

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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 eighth annual International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 14. This year also is the fifth annual International Winter Bike To School Day also on Feb. 14, so watch out for younger cyclists.

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 online to riding to work on Friday, Feb. 14 (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. 14, 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 headlight/taillight set from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and other goodies from businesses around town.

This is the eighth 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). Zagreb won again in 2017, but in 2018 Novi Sad, Serbia, ended Zagreb’s three-year reign as the top winter biking community. There now are ways businesses and schools can compete.

Last year saw the first winner from the United States, as Denver, Color., had the most points (1,405) and participants (1,207). Boulder, Colo., took second place with 1,174 points; followed in third place by Zagreb, Hrvatska (Croatia), with 520 points; Gdańsk, Polska (Poland), in fourth place with 287 points; and Varaždin, Hrvatska, in fifth place with 264 points.

Sitka finished in a six-way tie for 98th place overall in 2019 with 20 points, matching New York City; Durham, N.C.; Osijek, Hrvatska (Croatia); Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland (Germany); and Getxo, España (Spain). Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the international website, inviting friends to ride, sharing photos, hosting an event, etc. The only other Alaska community ranked in the top 200 cities was Anchorage in 41st place with 67 points.

For students, go to the International Bike To School Day website, http://winterbiketoschoolday.org/, and commit to riding to school on Friday, Feb. 14. 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 charleswbingham3@gmail.com or Doug Osborne at douglaso@searhc.org 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 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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