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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 Community Bike Ride is the perfect way to celebrate the spring and National Bike Month in May. It also is a chance to celebrate the 127th anniversary of the first bike seen in Sitka, which arrived in May 28, 1891, on the cruiser Mexico.

Join us on Saturday, May 26, at Totem Square (near the Petro Marine dock, where the Mexico likely docked) as we host a short kid-friendly bike parade through downtown starting at 11 a.m. (get there early for quick bike tune-up and door prize drawing). Riders are encouraged to bring classic and unusual bikes, if you have them.

We hope to have a bike stand and mechanic on hand to assist cyclists from 10:30 a.m. at Totem Square. People will be able to check chains, brakes, tire pressure and other minor maintenance needs, but won’t be able to do major repairs. We also hope someone will be available to help check bike helmet fits.

Since we will be on busy city streets for this event, we encourage everybody to wear helmets and bright clothing for safety reasons. All cyclists should ride on the right side of the road (with traffic) and ride in a predictable manner. We ask drivers to be aware there will be a lot of cyclists out on May 26 and to please slow down and give them a safe space to ride. Thanks.

We held a community bike ride a few years ago that had about 300-350 cyclists, so let’s see if we can top that crowd. We had a smaller crew at our community bike rides the last couple of years, but it’s still lots of fun.

For more information, contact the Doug Osborne at dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

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The 34th running, biking and swimming of the Julie Hughes Triathlon starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, 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 sixth 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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As the temperatures warm up, two events this month will highlight kids’ cycling and safety in Sitka —the seventh annual National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9, and the Sitka Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 12. These two events and others will help kick off National Bike Month (May) in Sitka.

The Sitka Bike Rodeo is an annual event sponsored by the Sitka Rotary Club and U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka. This year’s bike rodeo takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Coast Guard hangar. The target audience for this event is children age 12 and younger. Kids need to bring their bike, a helmet and a parent to this event, which will happen rain or shine. New this year is a bike swap, where people can sell or giveaway outgrown kids’ bikes.

“It’s a good chance for kids to make sure they and their bikes are ready to hit the roads and sidewalks for the busy spring and summer biking months,” event organizer Shannon Haugland said. “They can get their tires and brakes checked, make sure their helmets fit properly, and put some fresh reflective gear on their bikes and clothing. The favorite event is the obstacle course, where kids learn the rules of the road while testing their bike control skills.”

Other event sponsors include Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC)Girls Scouts of Alaska Troop 4140Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and the Sitka Police Department. For more info about the Sitka Bike Rodeo, call Shannon Haugland at 738-0602 or Doug Osborne at 747-0373.

A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Now there is a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 6. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Since 2012, there has been a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 9. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

On Wednesday, May 9, schools all over the country will encourage students to hope on their bikes for the seventh annual National Bike to School Day. Some schools will offer special events and prizes during the day. Schools in Sitka have signed up to host events, and many other Alaska communities are hosting bike rides to school. It’s not too late to organize one for your school. To encourage safety, parents are encouraged to ride their own bikes with their kids as they head to school.

Since it’s spring and the kids are starting to ride their bikes more often, here are a few bike safety rules for the kids:

  • Wear a properly fitting bike helmet (click here to learn how to fit a helmet). Not only is it a good way to protect yourself from head injuries, Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance that requires all children age 18 or younger to wear helmets when they ride bikes, trikes, skateboards, scooters and similar vehicles.
  • Right on the right side of the road, with traffic not against it. Older kids (age 11 and older) and adults should avoid riding their bikes on the sidewalks, especially downtown where there are lots of walkers (a bike can seriously injure elders who doesn’t hear the bike rider coming up behind them).
  • Wear bright clothes and make sure you have a working solid white headlight and flashing red taillight on your bike, especially if you ride when it’s dark. Wear a reflective vest or arm bands/leg bands, and put reflective tape on your clothes and/or bike frame so it’s easier for drivers to see you on the bike.
  • Know the rules of the road, and follow them. Stop at all stop signs and stop lights. Ride in a safe, predictable manner so cars know where you’re going. Use hand signals for all turns. Yield to traffic when appropriate.
  • Check your bike before riding it, especially the ABCs — Air (tires have the right amount of air), Brakes (the brakes work and will stop your tire so it skids on the pavement) and Chain (make sure the chain is the right tension and there are no damaged links, oil if necessary).
  • For more bike safety rules for kids, click here.

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National Bike Month kicks off on Tuesday, May 1, and Sitka residents are encouraged to find ways to get out and ride your bike this month. The seasons are changing, so make sure you get out on your bike and enjoy a ride.

This is a great time to help Sitka show why it earned an upgrade to the Silver level of the Bicycle Friendly Community program in 2016, and was featured on the cover of the Winter 2017 edition of Bicycle Friendly America magazine in February.

Our National Bike Month schedule concludes the annual Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 26, where we celebrate the 127th anniversary of the first bike seen in Sitka (on May 28, 1891) with a ride through downtown Sitka. This is a great family friendly event to celebrate cycling in Sitka, and people are encouraged to bring any classic or unusual bikes they have to this event. We hope to have someone available to do minor maintenance before the ride (pump up tires, oil chains, tighten brake cables, etc.).

Also on the agenda are National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9; the Sitka Bike Rodeo for kids on Saturday, May 12; our annual National Bike to Work Week (May 14-18) drawing for prizes for those who commute to work or school by bike during the week; a Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition monthly meeting on Friday, May 4; two SEARHC-hosted Doc Talks about cycling and exercise (on Tuesday, May 1, and Tuesday, May 15, at the Sitka Public Library); the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 19; and the Sitka Trail Works Cross Trail guided bike ride on Saturday, May 5. SEARHC also is offering a $100 discount on the purchase of a bike at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop during May for Sitka residents who saw SEARHC health providers from October 2017 through May 2018 (with extra safety equipment provided by Yellow Jersey).

In addition, we plan a special event each day of National Bike Week, including free coffee or tea at the Backdoor Cafe on Monday morning, May 14; a Doc Talks at the Sitka Public Library on Tuesday, May 15; a Ride of Silence event to honor cyclists killed or injured in traffic on Wednesday, May 16; pedal-powered smoothies and a lunch discount at North Sister Juice and Crepe Co. on Thursday, May 17; and a celebration of cyclists at the Sitka Health Summit‘s Wooch.een luncheon on Friday, May 18 (National Bike To Work Day).

As in past years, those cyclists who ride their bike to work, school or on errands during National Bike To Work Week (May 14-18) can fill out tickets at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop for a chance to win a gift certificate from Yellow Jersey, with other prizes possible. The prize drawing will be at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on May 19. To donate a prize, contact Doug Osborne at dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

Over the last year or so, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has been updating the Alaska Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and Sitka cyclists can still submit feedback on the website. This is important since Alaska’s last update to the plan was more than 20 years ago (1994).

In addition, Sitka cyclists are encouraged to join with thousands of others from around the country as they ride in the fourth annual National Bike Challenge, a free event that runs from May 1 through Sept. 30.

Cyclists can ride in the National Bike Challenge as individuals, for their workplaces or on other teams, and the mileage they log also will help their cities and states in the rankings. In 2016 more than 45,000 cyclists rode nearly 25 million miles during the five months of the National Bike Challenge (stats weren’t available for 2017).

• 2018 National Bike Month list of Sitka events (PDF flier to print and post)

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Sitka cyclists are encouraged to join with thousands of others from around the country as they ride in the seventh annual National Bike Challenge, a free event that runs from May 1 through Sept. 30.

This year’s prizes include a trip to New Zealand, a trip to the Grand Canyon, a $1,000 voucher from your local bike store, a $250 voucher from your local bike store, a set of monkey lights, a set of lane lights, and a variety of other bike gear.

Cyclists can ride as individuals, for their workplaces or on other teams, and the mileage they log also will help their cities and states in the rankings. This event launched in 2012, but some changes the last few years make it easier for people to participate. The challenge was extended a month a couple of years ago, so it now is five months long and covers the entire summer. During the 2016 National Bike Challenge, 45,982 cyclists rode 24,749,196 miles.

Participants can record the miles of their commute to work, as well as logging their various errands around town and pleasure rides, just so long as they ride an actual bike outdoors. It doesn’t count if people use machines or trainers.

It’s easy to participate. Just go to the website, create a profile and log in your miles. You also can join teams from the website. For those of you with smartphones, you can create a profile on Strava and the app’s global-positioning system tracking will record your workouts directly into your National Bike Challenge profile. If you don’t use Strava, you can use one of a variety of apps, such as Ride Report or Map My Ride, to automatically record your ride. For each day you ride, you receive 20 points plus one point for each mile ridden.

There already are several teams in Alaska, including one called Sitka Cyclists that Sitka residents can join. In previous years we also had a couple of workplace teams, including teams from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. Due to some recent changes to the program and website, the old workplace team pages aren’t available so someone will have to create new ones. We encourage Sitka teams to participate so we can get a little friendly competition going.

For those who miss the May 1 start date, if you’ve been riding you can back-record your workouts so long as you create a profile before the end of May. There are monthly prizes (awarded by random draw to cyclists nationwide who score at least 100 points in the month), and additional prizes at the end of the contest.

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Have you seen a SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) provider in Sitka since October 2017? If so, SEARHC wants to give you $100 toward a new bike from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop during the month of May, which is National Bike Month. In partnership, Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop also is offering an additional credit for safety accessories when you purchase a bike with this promotion.

SEARHC will give away 50 gift certificates for $100 off the purchase of a new bicycle for patients who saw SEARHC medical providers from Oct. 1, 2017, through May 31, 2018. New patients can take advantage of this offer, too. Just schedule an appointment with a Sitka SEARHC provider before the end of May, or before the certificates are gone.

SEARHC’s Sitka Campus is one of seven current (down from 11) Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Alaska, and the only one outside Anchorage. This promotion demonstrates SEARHC’s continued passion for bikes.

Learn more by contacting Holly Marban at 966.8938 or hmarban@searhc.org.

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