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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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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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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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The Sitka Cycling Club (formerly known as the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition) will hold its monthly meeting from 4-5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 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; planning for the family friendly Kidical Mass bike ride on Sept. 14; discussion of International Walk/Bike To School Day on Oct. 2; and other topics.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 738-8734 or Holly Marban at 966-8938.

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National Bike To Work Week is May 13-17, and Sitka residents are encouraged to get on their bikes and ride this week. Also, Friday, May 17, is National Bike To Work Day.

Forty percent of people have commutes of less than two miles, which makes cycling to work about as time-consuming as driving. Not only is biking to work healthy, but it reduces pollution in the environment. Commuting by bike also is a great way to jump-start your day with a short workout.

This year, those cyclists who ride their bike to work, school or on errands during National Bike To Work Week can fill out tickets at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop for a chance to win prizes, including a $100 gift certificate from Yellow Jersey and other prizes possible. The prize drawing will be at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on May 18. You fill in one ticket for each trip to work or home by bike.

This year, we’ll hold our second annual Worldwide Ride of Silence bike ride and blessing of the bikes event. Meet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, at the Crescent Harbor shelter for a blessing of the bikes with local clergy. We’ll have a short ride of silence at 7 p.m.

On National Bike To Work Day on Friday, May 17, and the Sitka Cycling Club invites bike commuters to Fisheye Organic Café’s new location at 327 Seward St. (next to Subway). The first 20 bike commuters who present their bike helmets between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. will be given a free smoothie.

In 2016, Sitka found out it had been upgraded to a Silver level designation in the Bicycle Friendly Community program. We were Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008, and the first to renew in 2012, earning a Bronze award both times. In 2016, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Sitka Campus earned a renewal of its Bronze award in the Bicycle Friendly Business program (it originally won the designation in 2011).

For more information, contact Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Charles Bingham at 623-7660.

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The 35th running, biking and swimming of the Julie Hughes Triathlon starts at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, at Blatchley Middle School.

The event is a fundraiser for the Sitka Cancer Survivors Society and honors the memory of a young Sitka woman who passed away from leukemia at the age of 15. (Click here for an April 2013 Capital City Weekly article about Julie Hughes.) Day-of-race registration ends at 8 a.m., a pre-race briefing and the race starts at 8:30 a.m. The bike staging area opens at 7 a.m.

JulieHughesTriathlonFor the seventh straight year, the Baranof Barracudas Swim Club is organizing the race, having taken over event hosting duties from the Hughes family. Registration takes place online at http://juliehughestri.com/. The entry fee is $35 per person ($15 per child age 17 or younger), and people can enter as individuals or teams. Day-of-race registrations are $40 for adults and $20 for children. Participants are encouraged to have bike safety checks done at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop before the race.

The course is a five-mile run from Blatchley Middle School to the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka gate and back, a 14-mile bike ride from Blatchley to the Starrigavan Recreation Area at the end of Halibut Point Road and back, and a 1,000-yard swim at the Blatchley Middle School swimming pool. There is a shorter course available for participants who are age 12 or younger (1.5-mile run, six-mile bike, 500-yard swim).

For more information, contact Kevin Knox at 738-4664, or send an e-mail to bbsc.sitka@gmail.com.

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Keet Goshi Heen Elementary School third-grade student, Kailee Brady, stands in front of her new bicycle after school on Wednesday.

Brady won a prize package as a part of the annual National Bike to School Day promotion. National Bike To School Day was Wednesday, May 8.

The Sitka Cycling Club and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), represented by Emma Klein on the right, provided the lights and helmet. The refurbished bicycle was provided by the Sitka Rotary Club, represented by Rotarian Doug Osborne on the left.

The Sitka Rotary Club, SEARHC, Sitka Community Hospital and the Sitka Cycling Club will host the annual Sitka Bike Rodeo for youth from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, in the covered area at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

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