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The inaugural Alaska Walk and Bike Conference takes place June 4-8 in Sitka — Alaska’s only community to hold national Walk Friendly Communities and Bicycle Friendly Community designations.

The conference opens with two days of Smart Cycling training from the League of American Bicyclists, followed by two days of walking and biking presentations. The fifth day includes an optional bike ride, an optional hike with harbor cruise, and a Walk/Bike Alaska organizational meeting. The conference costs $40 for the full conference, or $25 for each two-day segment. People can register at http://akwalkbikeconference.eventsmart.com. The Aspen Suites Hotel, where much of the conference will take place, has a block of rooms reserved for the conference, but will release them to the general public on May 3, so book now.

“Having this conference in Sitka is a great opportunity and I’m particularly excited about the team of speakers we have lined up,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital director of health promotion and one of the conference organizers. “The conference is designed so that people can participate ways that fit their interests and schedule. Some will want to complete the Smart Cycling course on Tuesday and Wednesday, others will enjoy doing the whole four-day conference while many will go for an individual session, a lunch and learn, a late afternoon group ride/walk or one of the evening special events. It’s going to be a fun week with a lot of learning, good discussion, and physical activity along the way.”

“The State of Alaska Physical Activity and Nutrition Program is excited to support the 2019 Walk Bike Conference in Sitka occurring at the same time as the Sitka Summer Music Festival,” said Dawn Groth, who works for the Alaska Division of Public Health’s Chronic Disease and Health Promotion program and is another conference organizer. “Sitka’s recognition as both a walk and bicycle friendly city make Sitka the perfect community to host a walk-bike conference. Building active and walkable communities can help support local economies, reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, and encourage safe walking and biking for all ages. Sitka is an example of a community Sitka is an example of a community working to create activity friendly routes to everyday destinations to encourage active people and a healthy nation.”

Elle Steele of Sacramento, Calif., shown here with her two sons (now ages 8 and 10), will lead the Smart Cycling training.

Sitka was honored with a Bronze level Walk Friendly Community designation in 2013 and 2017, and earned a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community designation in 2016 (with Bronze level designations in 2008 and 2012). Both designations came out of Sitka Health Summit projects, which also led to the creation of Walk Sitka and the Sitka Cycling Club groups to promote walking and biking in Sitka.

The Smart Cycling training part of the Alaska Walk and Bike Conference is designed to help cyclists feel more comfortable and safer riding in traffic. It also is good for educators (especially physical education teachers), youth leaders, and others who might be leading group bike rides with younger students.

The second two-day segment focuses on the Five E’s (Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement, Evaluation) that are the main components in the Walk Friendly Communities and Bicycle Friendly Community applications. In addition, there will be presentations on the health benefits of active transportation, accommodations needed for the elderly and disabled, how to start a bike school, and how to conduct a walk audit.

Elle Steele of Sacramento, Calif., who is a League Certified Instructor from the League of American Bicyclists and will lead the Smart Cycling training, will be one of the keynote speakers. She is board president of Trips For Kids Sacramento, a nonprofit that provides bike adventures for underserved youth, and also owns Whimsical Cycle, which promotes riding bikes for everyday transportation.

Lee Hart of Valdez and the Anchorage-based Confluence coalition promoting the outdoor recreation economic sector in Alaska will be a keynote speaker.

Another keynote speaker is Lee Hart of Valdez, who founded an Anchorage-based coalition called Confluence to promote the outdoor recreation economic sector in Alaska. She also founded the Valdez Adventure Alliance which introduced fat-biking and big mountain downhill fat-biking to new riders. Hart spoke about the benefits of outdoor recreation in Sitka in February 2019.

Other speakers include Doug Osborne, Charles Bingham, Holly Marban, Lynne Brandon and Rick Petersen of Sitka; Dawn Groth, Pierce Schwalb, Charlie Lowell and Sarana Schell of Anchorage; and others.

A tentative agenda is posted below. For more information, contact Doug Osborne at (907) 747-0373 or akwalkbikeconference@gmail.com.

• Tentative agenda for 2019 Alaska Walk and Bike Conference in Sitka (last updated May 30, 2019)

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Are you looking for ways to make Alaska more walking and bicycling friendly? Sitka will host the inaugural Alaska Walk and Bike Conference on June 4-8.

While the agenda is still being finalized (a tentative agenda is posted below), there will be a two-day Smart Cycling class (from the League of American Bicyclists training program), and two days of work sessions about how to be a better bicycling and walking advocate. The last day includes a Saturday hike and bike ride, and maybe a harbor cruise.

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, and some of the challenges it still faces in its efforts to become more walkable and bikeable.

Prices are low for this event — $25 for the Smart Cycling training on June 4-5, $25 for the Walk/Bike work sessions on June 6-7, or $40 for the whole conference. If we are able to secure the harbor cruise, there probably will be an extra fee for it. There also are special conference rates at the Aspen Hotel, which is downtown and within easy walking distance of most community facilities.

For more details, contact Doug Osborne at (907) 747-0373 or akwalkbikeconference@gmail.com.

• Tentative agenda for 2019 Alaska Walk and Bike Conference in Sitka

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Sitka's Bill Giant, foreground, completes a bike-handling drill recently as instructor Shane McRhodes of Eugene, Ore., watches in the background. (Photo by Doug Osborne)

Sitka’s Bill Giant, foreground, completes a bike-handling drill recently as instructor Shane MacRhodes, who is the Safe Routes To School program manager in Eugene, Ore., stands in the background. (Photo by Doug Osborne)

Two Sitka bicycle advocates — Doug Osborne and Bill Giant — recently completed a 2 1/2-day Alaska Bike ‘n’ Walk Safely training program in Anchorage.

The program was taught by instructors with the League Certified Instructor (LCI) credential from the League of America Bicyclists. Completing the training, which included such classes as Traffic Skills 101, means Doug and Bill are better qualified to teach bike safety classes in Sitka.

They recently hosted a summer bike camp for students in grades 3-6, and plan to offer classes through Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Community Schools this year.

 

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Bike Summit August 2015

Are you looking for an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge on bike safety for riders of all ages in a fun, hands-on environment? This is not your usual sit-down, take notes kind of training. Instead, it is a mixture of seminar presentations and actual bike riding to learn, and be able to teach, riding skills.

The Alaska Bike ‘n’ Walk Safely Program is sponsoring a 2 1/2-day cycling safety educational and training program on Aug. 13-15 in Anchorage. Travel, hotel and per diem scholarships are available for the attendees who live outside a 50-mile radius of Anchorage, as well as bike rentals for those arriving via air.

“Our goal is to promote bicycle safety for riders of all ages through the use of education, hands-on practice, increased awareness of helmet use, and after the training, dissemination of the information in the attendee’s city of residence,” Alaska Bike ‘n’ Walk Safely Program Manager Reneé Rudd said. “We are looking for people interested in this training from all walks of life, and from communities throughout Alaska.”

The program will be facilitated by cycling safety instructors who are League of American Bicyclists-certified instructors. Attendees will be instructed on how to properly fit a bike helmet, learn traffic-, urban- and trail-riding skills, how to ride in groups, bike safety teaching skills, lesson plans/drills information and be advised of state laws.

This training will assist the attendee in developing a local community event. Examples of events are bike rodeos, bike-to-school events and cycling exercise groups.

Each attendee will be provided a “toolkit” of items that can be used for their community event. Items may include reflective zipper pulls, coloring-comic books, posters, paper punches, decorative scissors and additional bike safety items. In addition to the toolkit, technical assistance will be available, as well as helmets upon request.

If interested in this training, please respond to Reneé Rudd  (754-3421) at renee.rudd@alaska.gov or Jo Fisher (269-3489) at jo.fisher@alaska.gov. Please include your full name, community, employer, email address, phone number and a very brief description of job duties.

Up to 15 scholarships are available for attendees residing outside a 50-mile radius of Anchorage, and a total of 30 registrants will be accepted. Don’t delay, this is a first-come, first-served training opportunity for you and your organization. As of July 19, there still were a couple of travel scholarships available, so let’s get someone from Sitka to this training.

This event is sponsored by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health Injury Prevention Program and the Alaska Highway Safety Office.

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