Archive for February, 2010

The Anchorage Bicycle Plan comes up for a public hearing in front of the Anchorage Assembly at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, at the Anchorage Assembly Chambers at Z.J. Loussac Library.

Longtime Anchorage community trails activist Lanie Fleischer wrote an excellent opinion piece about the Anchorage Bicycle Plan in last week’s Anchorage Daily News. Brian Litmans of Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage and Municipality of Anchorage non-motorized transportation plan coordinator Lori Schanche were guests last week on KSKA-FM’s “Hometown, Alaska” show where they discussed the plan with host Kathleen McCoy.

The Anchorage Bicycle Plan deals with improving bicycle facilities, bike paths, trails, bike racks, safety and other aspects of biking around Anchorage. The Municipality of Anchorage was named Alaska’s second Bicycle Friendly Community (behind Sitka) by the League of American Bicyclists in October 2009, but the plan will make Anchorage more bicycle-friendly.

It’s not part of the bike plan, but one area of concern is a Municipal Traffic Department Title IX rewrite being done by the Anchorage Police Department. This rewrite reverses current code and requires bicycles other non-motorized users to yield to cars at all intersections. Thomas Pease wrote a nice editorial in the Anchorage Press about how this will have a negative impact on cyclists. This rewrite goes against the principles of the plan.

So far several of the local community councils in Anchorage have come out in support of the plan and passed resolutions to show it. So have many local bicycle clubs, such as the Arctic Bicycle Club. Most Assembly members and the mayor also appear to support the plan. If you do show up to the Assembly meeting to show your support, please bring your helmet so the Assembly can see how many bikers are in favor of the plan.

By the way, Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage is hosting the Anchorage Winter Bicycle Festival and Fundraiser from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the BP Energy Center. If the Anchorage Bicycle Plan passes on Tuesday, Saturday night’s event could make for a nice celebration.

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A new report released Jan. 28 by the Alliance of Biking and Walking shows that a lack of investment in biking and walking could be contributing to higher traffic fatalities and chronic disease rates in the U.S. According to a press release from the Alliance of Biking and Walking, Bicycling and Walking in the United States: The 2010 Benchmarking Report reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars.

While 10% of trips in the U.S. are by bike or foot, 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. Biking and walking receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars. Seniors are at an even greater risk. While adults over 65 make up 9% of walking trips and 4% of biking trips, they account for 19% of pedestrian fatalities and 9% of bicyclist fatalities.

“State investment choices can be a life or death issue for people who walk and bike,” says Jeff Miller, President of the Alliance for Biking and Walking. “Creating safe streets for everyone will save lives and improve health and quality of life in communities.”

The report also highlights the fact that states with the lowest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In contrast states with the highest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the lowest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In addition, where rates of biking and walking are greater, more of the adult population is likely to achieve the 150 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity aerobic activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to CDC, physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.

The report also has a section that rates the 51 largest U.S. cities (none from Alaska) and each of the states. Alaska finishes near the top of the list for pedestrian trips and about the middle of the pack overall for people who bike or walk on their way to work. There is a separate article about walking in Alaska (Pages 138-140 of the report linked below).

Many of the benchmarks featured in this report contribute to making communities more bicycle and pedestrian friendly by changing the built environment, culture, attitudes, and behaviors. But continuous evaluation of efforts to promote bicycling and walking is key to better understanding the relationships between levels of bicycling and walking, safety, policies, provisions, advocacy capacity, and other measures. Benchmarking is a necessary process to better understand these relationships, identify the most strategic areas on which to focus resources, and ultimately to increase these forms of active transportation.

Bicycling and Walking in the United States was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through additional support from Bikes Belong Coalition and Planet Bike. For more information and to download the report visit http://www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org/benchmarking.

A cyclist rides on a bike trail next to Sawmill Creek Road in Sitka, Alaska

A cyclist rides on a bike trail next to Sawmill Creek Road in Sitka, Alaska

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