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Posts Tagged ‘Mim McConnell’

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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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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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 from 2012. 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 earned a Bicycle Friendly Business designation in 2011.

BFCSitkaLogoThe 2016 application is in. On Thursday, Feb. 11, Sitka’s renewal application for another Bicycle Friendly Community designation was submitted to the League of American Bicyclists. The deadline was Feb. 11.

Now comes the waiting part. We probably won’t hear back on whether or not we maintained our current bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community status (or improved our status) until May. The League of American Bicyclists typically announces its selections as part of its kick-off to National Bike Month (the month of May). The program has four levels (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), plus there is an Honorable Mention designation for communities that aren’t quite to the level of the other Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Sitka was Alaska’s first community to win a Bicycle Friendly Community award (bronze in 2008), and the first to earn a renewal of its status (bronze in 2012). Since Sitka became the first Alaska community to win the honor, two others have joined us (Anchorage, which recently upgraded from a bronze to silver designation, and Juneau, which holds a bronze designation).

The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition thanks the many people who helped us compile our applications over the years, including Lynne Brandon (formerly with the City and Borough of Sitka Department of Parks and Recreation and now with Sitka Trail Works Inc.); city planner Michael Scarcelli; city engineer Dave Longtin; Bob Laurie, Marie Heidemann and Dave Luchinetti with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell (for the proclamation supporting our bid and leading a couple of community cycling events); Matthew Turner (who wrote our original application in 2008); Doug Osborne; the Sitka Police Department; former Sitka Trail Works director Deborah Lyons; and others (sorry if we missed thanking you). This year’s application was written by Charles Bingham, who also wrote the 2012 renewal application. A copy of our application is posted below as a PDF file.

• 2016 Sitka renewal application for Bicycle Friendly Community

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Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell poses with her bike near the Crescent Harbor Shelter after attending a rally against the state’s oil tax giveaway on April 4. Mayor McConnell is one of three (out of seven total) Sitka Assembly members to regularly commute by bike, joining Phyllis Hackett and Matt Hunter. Another assembly member, Michelle Putz, drives an electric car.

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Mayor Cheryl Westover, left, presents Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition with a proclamation from the City and Borough of Sitka backing Sitka's renewal application for a Bicycle Friendly Community award.

Mayor Cheryl Westover, left, presents Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition with a proclamation from the City and Borough of Sitka backing Sitka's renewal application for a Bicycle Friendly Community award.

During the Tuesday, Jan. 10, meeting of the Sitka Assembly, the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition was presented with a proclamation backing its work toward renewing Sitka’s status as a Bicycle Friendly Community with the League of American Bicyclists.

Assemblymember Mim McConnell read the proclamation into the meeting record, then Mayor Cheryl Westover presented the proclamation to Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition. Doug then spoke about the importance for cities to work toward becoming more bicycle friendly, and he detailed some of the coalition’s upcoming projects, such as the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration on Jan. 28. Charles Bingham also spoke about the coalition’s website, https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com/ (you’re on it), and the group’s meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Assemblymember Mim McConnell, right, reads the proclamation into the record. Assemblymember Phyllis Hackett is at left.

Assemblymember Mim McConnell, right, reads the proclamation into the record. Assemblymember Phyllis Hackett is at left.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition speaks about the importance of cities becoming more bicycle friendly. He also discussed upcoming projects by the coalition, and the importance for cyclists to wear bright, reflective clothes (such as his jacket) when they ride, especially during the dark winter months.

Doug Osborne of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition speaks about the importance of cities becoming more bicycle friendly. He also discussed upcoming projects by the coalition, and the importance for cyclists to wear bright, reflective clothes (such as his jacket) when they ride, especially during the dark winter months.

• City and Borough of Sitka proclamation supporting Sitka’s efforts to renew its Bicycle Friendly Community status.

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