Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

There are power poles in the middle of the sidewalk and shrubs from the yards of area houses creeping into the sidewalk on Sawmill Creek Road across from Baranof Elementary School and the Elks Lodge. Note the pedestrian under the speed limit sign to get a scale of how tight things are when you try to get by the poles.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will host an open house and accept public comments for the Sawmill Creek Road resurfacing and pedestrian improvements project between the roundabout and Jeff Davis Street.

The open house takes place from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Public comments will close on Jan. 30, 2018, and construction is expected to start in 2019.

This meeting will only deal with Option 2 from the two options the Alaska DOT&PF presented Sitka with in May. Option 2 was passed unanimously by the Sitka Parks and Recreation Commission in June, and it passed 5-1 (with one absent) during a September meeting of the Sitka Assembly. Option 2 narrows traffic lanes, removes parking on the south side of the street (the water side), and creates new bike lanes on both sides of Sawmill Creek Road. Option 1 kept the status quo (other than to widen the traffic lanes in a coupe of spots), which did not improve the safety for bikers and walkers.

“At this meeting, only Option 2 will be presented for public comment,” said Aurah Landau, a public information officer with the Alaska DOT&PF. “It is the preferred option, and Option 1 is off the table.”

The two options were first announced at a poorly advertised open house on Monday, May 8, at Harrigan Centennial Hall (there was no mention of the meeting in the Friday, May 5, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel), when DOT staff from Juneau showed maps and diagrams detailing the two options. The DOT staff was supposed to give a report at the Tuesday, May 9, meeting of the Sitka Assembly, but the report was tabled to a later meeting when the Assembly shrank the meeting agenda to time-sensitive items only following the weekend shooting death of a city employee by another city employee.

“We’re just looking for public input, what people like and what people don’t like,” Colleen Ivaniszek, a designer and engineering assistant with DOT told the Daily Sitka Sentinel in an article in the Wednesday, May 10, edition.

“I just looked at the Assembly agenda for tomorrow (Tuesday, May 9) night and it looks like DOT is presenting two options for the design of Sawmill Creek from the Roundabout to Jeff Davis,” Sitka Trail Works Director Lynne Brandon wrote in a May email shared with the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition. “It looks like they want the Assembly to choose the option. I don’t think there has been any other input from the community. This isn’t enough public process. It’s a report, so I don’t think the Assembly can make a decision at the meeting, but I think they should know that more public process is necessary and the bike-friendly option is the only way to go, not the share-road.”

The last major public meeting for this project was in December 2015 at the Sealing Cove Business Park.

This section of Sawmill Creek Road has narrow sidewalks blocked by power poles (see photo above), which prevent people in wheelchairs or using rolling walk-assist carts from being able to get by. Cyclists consider it the most dangerous section of major road in Sitka because it is the only stretch of major road without a designated bike lane or multi-use path from the ferry terminal at the end of Halibut Point Road to the industrial park at the end of Sawmill Creek Road. There also is motor vehicle parking along both sides of Sawmill Creek Road, which means cyclists have to worry about getting doored until they get past Jeff Davis Street.

“I’m really hopeful for the proposed changes to SMC Road between Baranof and Jeff Davis,” William The Giant said in a May Facebook post. “I’ve been bike commuting in Sitka for about eight years now, and this small chunk of road is easily one of the most dangerous stretches for a biker in town. It might seem like a lazy little street to a driver, but for a biker it’s a choice between being firmly in traffic, or riding along in the ‘door zone’ of all the parked vehicles. It’s a no-win situation either way, since a bike accident along this road is almost guaranteed to jam up some poor driver’s axle.

“I have a baby I’m now hauling around in a bike trailer almost daily, and I absolutely dread this section of road. Honestly, I’m really surprised we’ve been providing parking to a handful of residents at the cost of safety along a major road for so long. When I read we’d only give up parking along one side of the road to create two bike lanes it sounded like a dream come true to me. Especially, since the area is being improved one way or the other, it would be strange to ‘upgrade’ it to be a new version of the same terrible layout. I will be eternally thankful to those who have to walk across the street each morning to get to their cars to make our roads safer.”

Of the two options, Option One is closest to the unacceptable status quo. In fact, it widens the driving lanes from 12 feet to 13.5 feet (and wider lanes lead to higher road speeds, which lead to more serious injuries and fatalities). It keeps the current eight-foot parking lanes on both sides of the street, but it does relocate some power poles and makes some upgrades to the sidewalk and curb ramps. This option is not an improvement for the most dangerous stretch of road and sidewalk in Sitka.

Option Two is the safer option, as it shrinks the driving lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet, eliminates the parking lane on one side of the road, and creates five-foot bike lanes on both sides of the road. This is by far the better option of the two. You can learn more about both options in the link posted at the bottom of the article.

“I agree that Option Two is the best,” Sitka cyclist Dave Nuetzel wrote in a May email. “This removes parking on one side and adds two bike lanes. I also commented that bump-outs for crosswalks and a flashing crosswalk at Baranof Street are needed. … Option One with ‘shared’ lanes would basically be the same as it already is.  This stretch of highway is the only area in Sitka without a bike lane or wide shoulder. … Not sure how they plan to move cyclists from the multi-purpose path to the bike lane on the other side of the road. Currently no crosswalk at Jeff Davis.”

Girl Scout Troop 4140, which recently worked with the state and city to get a solar-powered flashing crosswalk sign for the Halibut Point Road-Peterson Street intersection, wants to see a similar flashing crosswalk sign on Sawmill Creek Road.

“Girl Scout Troop 4140 would like to have solar-powered crosswalk signs at SMC/Baranof Street (at the Baranof Elementary crosswalk) included in the design, but we need your help,” troop leader Retha Winger wrote in a May Facebook post encouraging people to contact DOT about the crosswalk. “DOT is currently accepting comments about their design changes and they are requesting comments from Sitkans. You can review the design changes here, http://dot.alaska.gov/sereg/projects/sitka_sawmill_rd/index.shtml. Please send comments to Chris.Schelb@alaska.gov. PLEASE EMAIL CHRIS AND LET HIM KNOW THAT WE WANT A SOLAR-POWERED CROSSWALK AT THE BARANOF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CROSSWALK! All comments are important and appreciated. They need to hear our collective concern for the safety of our children. Thank you!”

Both options will make the intersection of DeGroff Street and Sawmill Creek Road a 90-degree turn, which will reduce car speeds as drivers leave Sawmill Creek Road for the residential DeGroff Street. Another change will move the bike path that crosses Jeff Davis Street a bit closer to the highway, so it’s easier for drivers to see the cyclists. Another plan is to improve the sidewalks by Monastery Street.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is taking public comment on the two options for the next 30 days. You can email comments to Chris.Schelb@alaska.gov, or send them by regular mail to Sawmill Creek Road Resurfacing and Pedestrian Improvements, c/o Alaska DOT&PF, P.O. Box 112506, Juneau, Alaska, 99511-2506.

• Sawmill Creek Road Resurfacing and Pedestrian Improvements Options

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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. 4, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren walk 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, Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion. “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.

Reflectors Save Lives posterReflective 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. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center’s pedestrian safety program will mail free reflective tape to people who call (907) 929-3939. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center also produced a YouTube video that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.

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.

Read Full Post »

Raingear was the attire of the day, but the predicted storms held off long enough for Sitka to host a damp third Kidical Mass family oriented bike ride Saturday, Sept. 16.

This event, which drew about 40-60 riders, featured a ride of about 1.5 miles from the tennis courts/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. 16 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 pedal-powered smoothies (where the blender was powered by a bike).

Local organizers included the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition4-HUAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District OfficeSitka Conservation SocietyBig Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, and Sitka Community Hospital.

A slideshow of scenes from the ride is posted below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, at the North Sister Crepes and Juice 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 finalizing plans for the Kidical Mass family friendly bike ride on Saturday, Sept. 16, and planning other events in October (including National Walk/Bike To School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 4, and some winter cycling education events).

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

Read Full Post »

Cyclists of all ages are invited to join Sitka’s third “Kidical Mass” family bike ride, which is scheduled to start at the playground/tennis courts across from Sheldon Jackson Campus at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16.

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. 16 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.

Local organizers include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition4-HUAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District OfficeSitka Conservation SocietyBig Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, and Sitka Community Hospital.  For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373.

Read Full Post »

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

Thursday, June 1, was the 12th 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 12 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 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, http://www.bhsi.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 Shop, AC/Lakeside Grocery, True Value, Sea Mart, and even the White E thrift shop.

Read Full Post »

(Photo by Denise Denherder)

Three young cyclists from Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School will be serving as bike ambassadors at the Sitka Bike Rodeo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at the U.S. Coast Guard Hangar.

The Keet Gooshi Heen Bike Ambassadors (from left in photo, posing with their new bicycles) are Madison Campbell, Aryana Smith and Brigit Wentworth. The three girls filled out successful applications, completed safety training, and will assist with the bike rodeo.

The new program was made possible with the organizational and financial support from Sitka Community Hospital (Doug Osborne, back left), the Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop (James Pelletier and Bill Hughes, back center), Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School (represented by Twila Keaveny, back row right), as well as the Mount Verstovia Masonic Lodge and Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »