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Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Friendly America’

Alaska was listed in 36th place when the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) released its 2017 Bicycle Friendly State rankings in mid-October.

The Bicycle Friendly State ranking provides a ranking for all 50 states based on four public data sources and a Bicycle Friendly State survey that is answered by each state’s Department of Transportation and/or a statewide bicycle advocacy organization. Each state is ranked in five categories — infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, and evaluation and planning.

The 2017 rank of 36th is within the normal range for Alaska, which typically ranks in the 30-40 range in this annual survey of bike advocates. In the last ranking in 2015 (there was no ranking in 2016), Alaska ranked 41st. Alaska’s top ranking was 29th in 2011 and its worst ranking was 47th in 2009. There have been several changes to the ranking system over the years, which caused some large rises and falls in the rankings.

The 2017 Bicycle Friendly State ranking includes a ranking of each state, but crucially also includes a report card summarizing the data analyzed for each state and giving comparisons and feedback meant to help states, citizens, and advocates better understand where each state can improve.

According to Alaska’s scorecard, “Alaska is a unique state, large and largely rural. Alaska typically has higher per capita transportation spending and their data on biking and walking reflects this as well, easily being the highest per capita spending figure in the United States, despite Alaska spending a smaller percentage of federal funds on biking and walking than average. Each category reflects that Alaska does not have much supportive policy infrastructure to ensure the safety and mobility of people who bike. This may reflect the uniqueness of Alaska, which may make it more difficult to adapt successful policies and practices from more urban or more compact states. However, the state would benefit from a plan for promoting the safety and mobility of people who bike in Alaska in a way that is geared towards the unique characteristics of Alaska and takes advantage of the tourism potential and already relatively high percentage of the population that bikes to work. The experiences of states like Vermont (#14) and Maine (#17) may be instructive.”

In the five categories, Alaska ranked 37th in infrastructure and funding and in evaluation and planning, 45th in policies and programs, 47th in education and encouragement, and 50th (last) in legislation and policies. Alaska was able to move up in the overall rankings because it ranked first in spending ($9.71 per capita in Federal Highway Authority spending on biking and walking), sixth in ridership (1.0 percent statewide commute to work by bike, 5.42 percent in Sitka), and 12th in safety (3.9 fatalities per 10,000 bike commuters).

The Bicycle Friendly State rankings are part of the Bicycle Friendly America program (click Alaska on map to see list of awards) from the League of American Bicyclists. Alaska has three official Bicycle Friendly Communities (Sitka at the Silver level, Anchorage at Silver, and Juneau at Bronze, plus Fairbanks is honorable mention). There are 10 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Alaska ranking from Bronze to Gold level (nine are in Anchorage and the Bronze-level SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium-Sitka Campus is the only one outside Anchorage). The University of Alaska Fairbanks (Silver) is Alaska’s only Bicycle Friendly University.

• 2017 Bicycle Friendly State scorecard for Alaska

•Guide to the 2017 Bicycle Friendly State report card

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An article about cycling in Sitka was posted today (May 5) on the League of American Bicyclists‘ “News From The League” blog, and was linked on the gateway page of the bike league’s website. The article was same one that served as the cover story of the Winter 2017 edition of Bicycle Friendly America magazine.

“I thought it was a great story to help wrap up the first week of May,” League of American Bicyclists Communications Manager Steve Taylor wrote in an email. May is National Bike Month, and Sitka has a variety of cycling events scheduled for the month.

The article and photos about Sitka’s quest to become a Bicycle Friendly Community were provided by Charles Bingham, who also coordinates this website. The article quotes several local bike riders, including former mayor Mim McConnell, current mayor Matt Hunter, Matthew Turner, Doug Osborne and Bill Foster.

Sitka became Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008, earning a Bronze Level designation. Sitka repeated as a Bronze Level community in 2012, and in 2016 upgrade to the Silver Level. Here is a link to our latest BFC report card. Since Sitka became a Bicycle Friendly Community, Anchorage (Silver), Juneau (Bronze) and Fairbanks (Honorable Mention) also have applied for the program.

In 2011, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Sitka Campus earned a Bronze Level designation in the Bicycle Friendly Business program, and repeated at the Bronze Level in 2016. There currently are 11 businesses in Alaska with Bicycle Friendly Business designations, with SEARHC Sitka Campus the only one outside Anchorage.

 

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Sitka is featured in the Winter 2017 edition of Bicycle Friendly America magazine, the quarterly publication of the League of American Bicyclists.

The article and photos about Sitka’s quest to become a Bicycle Friendly Community were provided by Charles Bingham, who also coordinates this website. The article quotes several local bike riders, including former mayor Mim McConnell, current mayor Matt Hunter, Matthew Turner, Doug Osborne and Bill Foster.

Sitka became Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008, earning a Bronze Level designation. Sitka repeated as a Bronze Level community in 2012, and in 2016 upgrade to the Silver Level. Here is a link to our latest BFC report card. Since Sitka became a Bicycle Friendly Community, Anchorage (Silver), Juneau (Bronze) and Fairbanks (Honorable Mention) also have applied for the program.

In 2011, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Sitka Campus earned a Bronze Level designation in the Bicycle Friendly Business program, and repeated at the Bronze Level in 2016. There currently are 11 businesses in Alaska with Bicycle Friendly Business designations, with SEARHC Sitka Campus the only one outside Anchorage.

To go directly to the three-page article, click this link. To read the entire magazine, click this link.

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The League of American Bicyclists on Dec. 21, announced that the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) has been awarded a renewal of its 2011 Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business award.

SEARHC is the only Alaska organization among the 42 new and returning businesses nationwide to earn an award during the Fall 2016 cycle. There now are 1,265 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in 49 states at the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze levels (there also is an Honorable Mention level not included in the total).

“This is great news!” SEARHC Health Educator II Anthony Treas said. “We are happy to have attained the Bronze status as a Bicycle Friendly Business. We will use this as a stepping stone as we continue to seek how we can improve and ultimately for SEARHC to achieve Gold status.”

bfb-bronze-sealSince the Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program started in 2009, there have been 11 businesses in Alaska to earn the honor. SEARHC is the only one of the group located outside of Anchorage. Besides SEARHC, the current BFBs in Alaska are — the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (gold), Southcentral Foundation (gold), CRW Engineering Group LLC (silver), ECI/Hyer Inc. (bronze), Green Star Inc. (bronze), Kittelson & Associates Inc.-Anchorage (bronze), Providence Alaska Medical Center (bronze), R&M Consultants Inc. (bronze), REI Anchorage (bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (honorable mention).

The Bicycle Friendly Business program honors those businesses committed to making their businesses more bike friendly for employees and customers. These organizations come from a wide range of industries, such as health care, manufacturing and government. They also range from large Fortune 50 company headquarters to small mom-and-pop businesses with only a handful of employees.

“As these businesses make bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation they play a vital role in transforming our nation into a safer, healthier and more sustainable place to live and work,” League of American Bicyclists Executive Director Alex Doty said. “We congratulate and thank this new round of businesses for leading the way in creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

The Bicycle Friendly Business program provides a free roadmap for businesses wanting to make their organizations more friendly to bikes. Businesses have to complete a lengthy application that includes information about the number of bike commuters, facilities available for them (such as racks, showers and lockers), education programs and ways the business connects with the local bicycle community.

SEARHC is Sitka’s largest employer with about 550-570 employees in town, and SEARHC is the region’s largest private employer with just more than 1,000 total employees. The SEARHC Sitka campus took an active role in Sitka’s 2008 application to become the first Bicycle Friendly Community in Alaska (Bronze), and also helped in Sitka’s 2012 (Bronze) and 2016 (Silver) renewal Bicycle Friendly Community applications. SEARHC promotes healthy and safe cycling to its employees and the community through its health promotion, injury prevention and employee wellness programs.

Winners of the Bicycle Friendly Business award are allowed to use the designation for the next four years. To learn more about the BFB program, go to http://bikeleague.org/business. Sitka businesses interested in applying can contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

The BFB program is part of the League of American Bicyclist’s larger Bicycle Friendly America program that also includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly University programs. Alaska now has three Bronze-level or higher Bicycle Friendly Communities — Sitka (Silver), Anchorage (Silver) and Juneau (Bronze), with Fairbanks earning an Honorable Mention designation in November 2016. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (Silver) is the only Bicycle Friendly University in the state. In 2015, Alaska ranked 41st in the Bicycle Friendly State rankings, up from 43rd in 2014.

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Doug Osborne, left, and Charles Bingham of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition hold Sitka's new Bicycle Friendly Community sign and certificate letter. The League of American Bicyclists announced on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, that Sitka is now a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community after winning the Bronze level award in 2008 and 2012. (Photo by Ken Sprague)

Doug Osborne, left, and Charles Bingham of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition hold Sitka’s new Bicycle Friendly Community sign and certificate letter. The League of American Bicyclists announced on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, that Sitka is now a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community after winning the Bronze level award in 2008 and 2012. (Photo by Ken Sprague)

BFC_Silver_Seal_2016Sitka is moving up. After winning two Bronze-level designations in the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program in 2008 and 2012, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) announced on Wednesday, May 18, that Sitka is now at the Silver level for the next four years.

With the announcement of 34 new and renewing BFCs Wednesday, Sitka is one of 372 communities in all 50 states to hold a Bicycle Friendly Community designation. Of those 372 communities, there are zero at the Diamond level (the highest), five at the Platinum level, 25 at the Gold level, 73 at the Silver level, and 269 at the Bronze level.

Sitka was Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008, and the first to repeat in 2012. Since then, Anchorage (Bronze level 2009, Silver 2013) and Juneau (Bronze level 20011, Bronze level 2015) have joined the ranks of Bicycle Friendly Communities. According to the League of American Bicyclists, the BFC award recognizes Sitka’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell, right front, prepares to lead cyclists in the 2015 Sitka Community Bike Ride

Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell, right front, prepares to lead cyclists in the 2015 Sitka Community Bike Ride and Picnic

“We applaud these communities for making bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation,” said Bill Nesper, Vice President of Programs at the League of American Bicyclists. “We are encouraged by the growing number of leaders who see bicycling as a way to build more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected communities and be a part of the solution to many complex challenges faced at both the community and national levels. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

“Sitka moving from the Bronze level to Silver shows that cycling is an important part of our community for many Sitkans,” Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell said. “Initiatives have occurred in recent years that are focused on bicyclists, such as raising awareness of bicycle safety, and providing wide bike lanes on a repaved street.”

Becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community was one of the community wellness initiatives from the first Sitka Health Summit in October 2007. At the summit, Sitkans said they wanted to become friendlier to bikers and walkers in town, and residents started gathering information for our first application in 2008. A few years later, a Walk Friendly Communities program (modeled after the BFC program) was initiated and in 2013 Sitka became the first Alaska community to win a Bronze level award. Juneau has an honorable mention WFC designation.

When Sitka first applied for a BFC designation in 2008, it led the state (for communities larger than 600 people) with 2.87 percent commuting to work by bike, according to the American Community Survey compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. By the time Sitka sent in its second renewal application in February 2016, Sitka had nearly doubled its bike commuting percentage to 5.42 percent. That’s nearly 10 times the percentage of bike commuters nationwide (0.6 percent), and five times the Alaska average of 1.1 percent.

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Cyclists pose for a group photo after Sitka’s first family friendly Kidical Mass ride in August 2015.

“Your application really painted a great picture of the improvements made in Sitka since its last application,” said Ken McLeod, State and Local Policy Manager for LAB. “Sitka was on the border of earning a Silver in its Spring 2012 application due to the high percentage of people biking to work, strong youth education programs, and a diversity of initiatives that pointed toward a shared community investment in creating a great place to ride a bike.

“In Sitka’s most recent application we saw that all of the great things that were in place in 2012 had been expanded upon. In particular, we were happy to see that bicycle facilities expanded with an additional 10 miles of on‐street bike facilities and seven more miles of off‐street paths. It also was great to hear that there was a noticeable culture shift so that motorists were more accommodating and considerate to bicyclists, thanks to the sustained high levels of bicycling in Sitka. This culture change may have been reinforced by an expansion of community bike activities, including the creation of a Bicycle Advisory Committee — a key feedback point from the 2012 application — and the creation of the Sitka Community Bike Ride and Potluck (in 2015), which included the Mayor as its lead rider. While Sitka is a unique community given its location and weather, we see it as a great example of the power of low‐stress streets and the ability of any community to become a great place to ride.”

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Bike mechanic Bill The Giant works on a bike before the Sitka Community Bike Ride and Picnic in May 2015.

Sitka has a unique bicycle culture compared to many noted bike communities. While Sitka has had a few cyclists do well in state and national races, there isn’t much of a racing community in Sitka like there is in other cities. You rarely see the Spandex-clad bicycle racers in Sitka. Instead, most Sitka cyclists are biking to work or school, to run errands or just to have fun, frequently wearing rain gear or using studded tires in the winter. In recent years Sitka has hosted bike safety camps for youth riders, held a campaign to get bicyclists and walkers to be more visible when they ride (note all the traffic yellow jackets or reflective tape people now wear), and increased the number of cycling events such as hosting the Sitka Community Bike Ride in May, a Kidical Mass family friendly ride in August, and on the International Winter Bike To Work/School Day in February.

“This is a great accomplishment for our town and so many people have played a role in helping us to advance,” said Doug Osborne, co-coordinator of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition. “A big thanks to all the courteous cyclists who share the road, all the drivers who drive free of distractions, all the cyclists who model safe practices such as riding with traffic, and finally all the organizations that provide accommodations for bikes and places for people to ride.”

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Sitka cyclist Stan Schoening rides his bike to KCAW for his radio show on International Bike To Work Day in February 2016.

This week (May 16-20) is National Bike To Work Week, and Friday, May 20, is National Bike To Work Day. Sitka cyclists who commute to work or school can enter for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate from the Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop or a $50 massage from Oceanside Physical Therapy by filling out tickets each time they ride at Yellow Jersey. The winning tickets will be drawn at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 21, at Blatchley Middle School.

On National Bike To Work Day on Friday, cyclists who show their bike helmets between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. will receive a 15-percent discount on lunch at the Larkspur Café. The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet at noon on Friday at the Larkspur to finalize plans for the Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 28, when we will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the first bike seen in Sitka (on May 28, 1891). People should meet at 10 a.m. on May 28 for bike checks and maintenance, helmet fittings and a variety of contests such as oldest bike, most unique bike or most visible bike. At 11 a.m. on May 28 we will have a group ride through downtown Sitka.

For more information about the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition and the Bicycle Friendly Community award, go to https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com/, or contact Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Charles Bingham at 623-7660.

• Bicycle Friendly Community report card for Sitka, Spring 2016

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For the fifth straight year, Washington ranks No. 1 in the Bicycle Friendly State rankings compiled by the League of American Bicyclists. Alaska dropped from No. 29 to No. 33 in this year’s rankings, which were released on May 22 as part of National Bike Month.

Trailing Washington in the rankings were Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Maine and Delaware, all states above the Mason-Dixon Line. The bottom five states were Montana at No. 46, Alabama, West Virginia, North Dakota and Arkansas at No. 50. Even though Washington ranked No. 1 for the fifth straight year, the Seattle Bike Blog wrote there are several improvements the state can make to be even friendlier to cyclists. CNN posted this article about the Bicycle Friendly State rankings.

States were ranked using a 1-5 scale (1 is bad, 5 is good) in five categories — legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning. Alaska received a 4 in policies and programs, a 3 in education and encouragement, and a 2 in each of the other three categories.

One of Alaska’s strengths was its bicycle commuter mode share is nearly double the national average (and it’s nearly 10 times the average in Sitka). The top tip for improvement was to adopt a vulnerable user law that includes a minimum safe passing distance and stricter consequences for violations by motor vehicle drivers.

Alaska has made great strides to move up the rankings, where it ranked just 43rd in 2008 and a dismal 47th in 2009. Alaska moved up to 39th in 2010 and 29th in 2011. Since 2008, Alaska has added three Bicycle Friendly CommunitiesSitka (2008, bronze, renewed in 2012, bronze), Anchorage (2009, bronze) and Juneau (2011, bronze). Alaska also has added nine Bicycle Friendly BusinessesAnchorage Native Tribal Health Consortium (2009, gold), Southcentral Foundation (2010, silver), Green Star Inc. (2009, bronze), Providence Alaska Medical Center (2010, bronze), REI-Anchorage (2011, bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (2011, honorable mention), SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium-Sitka Campus (2011, bronze), CRW Engineering Group LLC (2012, silver) and Restoration Science and Engineering (2012, honorable mention). Alaska has no universities recognized by the Bicycle Friendly University program.

• 2012 Bicycle Friendly State scorecard for Alaska

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In 2008, Sitka became the first Alaska community to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community award. On Monday, May 14, Sitka became the first Alaska community to earn a renewal of its Bicycle Friendly Community designation.

With Monday’s national announcement to kick off National Bike to Work Week, Sitka maintained its bronze level designation in the Bicycle Friendly Community program run by the League of American Bicyclists. Sitka now is one of three recognized communities in Alaska (Anchorage earned a BFC designation in 2009 and Juneau in 2011, also at the bronze level). There currently are 214 communities in 47 states with Bicycle Friendly Community designations (at the platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels). Sitka’s award is good for four years, expiring in February 2016.

“Sitka is pleased to once again receive recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community and the first city in Alaska to be a repeat recipient,” Sitka Mayor Cheryl Westover said. “Thanks to the many Sitkans who actively support bicycling.”

“This is great news and a great time to thank everyone involved in helping us reach this Sitka Health Summit goal,” said Doug Osborne, who coordinates the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition. “Just the other day, I heard a visitor say how neat it was to see all the people in Sitka who are getting around on bikes. I have to agree, because there so many benefits that come from biking and being a bicycle-friendly town. I’m grateful to everyone who helped us get this designation and the positive national attention that comes with it.”

Sitka first applied for the Bicycle Friendly Community program as one of the community health priority projects chosen during the 2007 Sitka Health Summit, and it was the first project completed. The 2011 Sitka Health Summit supported renewing Sitka’s status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The 2012 Sitka Health Summit takes place on Oct. 3-6 at a variety of locations around Sitka. Over the past five years, the Sitka Health Summit resulted in high-profile projects such as starting the Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens in Sitka, supporting the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, bringing local businesses and insurance companies together to promote employee wellness programs, the Choose Respect mural about domestic violence prevention, planting fruit trees in Sitka and the award-winning Fish to Schools project.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition poses with one of the Bicycle Friendly Community signs Sitka will be hanging around town. Doug is in the bike shelter at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) At Kaník Hít Community Health building in Sitka. SEARHC's Sitka Campus has a Bicycle Friendly Business designation.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition poses with one of the Bicycle Friendly Community signs Sitka will be hanging around town. Doug is in the bike shelter at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) At Kaník Hít Community Health building in Sitka. SEARHC’s Sitka Campus has a Bicycle Friendly Business designation.

“First and foremost, thanks to the bicycle commuters who are now riding to work at almost 10 times the national average,” Osborne said. “Secondly, thanks to the courteous motorists who are sharing the road. And lastly, thanks to all the groups, workplaces, schools, shops and individuals who have made various contributions over the years.”

In the application feedback form provided by the League of American Bicyclists, Sitka received high marks for its number of regular bike commuters (4.9 percent, nearly 10 times the national average and five times the state average), Sitka’s promotion of National Bike Month events in May, the Share-the-Road and Be Safe Be Seen education campaigns, cycling workshops, the low number of motor vehicle/bicyclist crashes (only eight in five years reported to Sitka Police), and for several unique cycling events. The Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka’s largest employer, earned a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business designation in September 2011.

“One of the things that impressed our reviewers about Sitka is the one-of-a-kind local biking events, like the Winter Cycling Celebration,” said Bill Nesper, Vice President of Programs for the League of American Bicyclists. “Events like this really help people see that biking is a great way to get around for transportation and recreation all year round.”

In order to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community designation, communities have to complete an application that covers five main focus areas called The Five E’s — Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation/Planning. There are more than 100 questions in the application, asking everything from how many miles of bike lanes to how many schools participate in the Safe Routes To School program. Communities also are asked about their biking or non-motorized transportation plans and how they are meeting their goals.

Monday’s announcement saw 49 communities earn new, improve or maintain current Bicycle Friendly Community designations. The Bicycle Friendly Community program is part of the larger Bicycle Friendly America program that includes Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University designations. In addition to the League of American Bicyclists, the Bicycle Friendly America program is supported by Bikes Belong and Trek Bicycle’s One World Two Wheels Campaign.

“We aren’t surprised that this was the largest number of new and renewing applicants that we’ve ever had,” League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke said. “The popularity of this program is clear evidence that simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development.”

• Feedback for Sitka’s 2012 Bicycle Friendly Community application

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