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July 22, 2007

Cycling Spectacular Sitka Alaska

When I think of cycling in Alaska my 1st thought is about all the snow, and wondering if cyclists need chains. ;-D

Seriously, though, there are Bicycle Friendly Communities up there, too, and plenty of great opportunities for riding.

In fact I received word, this past week, about one such city that wants to earn a coveted Bicycle Friendly Community designation fom the League of American Cyclists.

Hello,

Just wanted to send you a couple of new links for your blogroll on
CyclingDude.com.

Sitka, Alaska, a community of 8,500 to 8,800 people
on Baranof Island in rainy Southeast Alaska, is trying to get an
application together for a Bicycle Friendly Community designation
from the League of American Bicyclists.

If our application is successful, we'll be the first Alaska community and the nation's
smallest town to earn the designation.

Charles Bingham
Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
Sitka, Alaska

The City and Borough of Sitka recently received a grant from Steps to a Healthier Alaska to help fund their effort to meet the requirements for the LAC designation by March 2008.

As Matthew Turner, Project Coordinator, explained in his application:

Becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community requires the completion of an application that asks specific questions under each of the action focus areas.

The process creates a detailed audit of the engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation efforts for the community.

This comprehensive inquiry is designed to yield a holistic picture of a community's work to promote bicycling.

Steps needed to complete the application and meet the standards range from creating a detailed inventory of existing and needed bicycling infrastructure, to working with the police department on enforcement of helmet laws, to creating more incentives for people to ride their bikes.

I found the Application to be interesting reading as he pleads his case:

Remember when you first learned to ride a bike?

There was great readiness and anticipation.

You probably thought for a while how much you wanted to do it, and saw other people who
could and thought, “why not me?”

Sitka is in much the same state of readiness.

There are literally hundreds of community members ready right now to pull off this complex project.

There are several existing efforts – public safety campaigns, global warming groups, mountain bike trail building, and individual wellness initiatives – that are already working to meet many of the standards of the application.

Just like when first riding a bike, where it takes someone holding you up, running behind you and giving you that final push to get you rolling, Sitka just needs a little coordination of these various efforts, the initiation of a few more, and a final “push” – and we too will be up and rolling with a community that provides safe accommodation for cycling and encourages its residents to bike for transportation and recreation.

He goes on to explain about the great need for more cycling in Alaska, and Sitka especially, and to explain the goals of, and what they want to accomplish with, his citys effort, and more.

Bike Friendly Sitka is an effort of Advancing our Community, or AOC, a group of community members who are committed to Sitka’s wellbeing.

The Website is the next stage in their ongoing effort to attract interest, and community involvement.

On the project website there is a link to a forum, begun in late May, with numerous topics, some specific to each question of the Bicycle Friendly Community application, and others related to riding in the area, such as events, places to ride, and more.

The subjects are a varied, and well thought out collection.

So far the forum has only 27 members, however.

The website has a link to the last Sitka Comprehensive Plan, and what it says about cycling, and to the 2002 Sitka Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.

There is a link for reporting unsafe road conditions, and for asking cycling questions of local experts.

I have added a link to the Project in the sidebar, making it the 3rd Alaskan link on the list, and wish them success in their effort.

***UPDATE - 7/23/07: My thanks to Charles for the very kind plug in the Resources Section of the above mentioned Forums, and a hearty welcome to any visitors from Alaska who stop in for a look! ;-D

July 22, 2007 in Pedaling Advocacy | Permalink

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