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Archive for March, 2011

HB 57 (Alaska’s Bike Bill) was passed by the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, March 29, and now moves to the House Finance Committee, according to a story from the Associated Press.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) and co-sponsored by Rep. Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage). Once passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, the bill “creates the Safe Bicycle Ridership grant program for municipalities and non-profits, which will provide increased access to bikes so Alaskans have a choice of transportation modes during an unstable economy with high fuel costs,” Rep. Seaton wrote in his sponsor’s statement. We had more information about the bill last month.

 

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Michael Stanfill assembles a new bicycle on Tuesday, March 15, 2011, for a rental program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Stanfill, a sophomore mechanical engineering student, is working with the program approved by the UAF Office of Sustainability to offer bikes for both short- and long-term rentals starting in April. (Photo by Sam Harrel/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Michael Stanfill assembles a new bicycle on Tuesday, March 15, 2011, for a rental program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Stanfill, a sophomore mechanical engineering student, is working with the program approved by the UAF Office of Sustainability to offer bikes for both short- and long-term rentals starting in April. (Photo by Sam Harrel/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Office of Sustainability has approved a new campus bicycle rental program, according to a recent article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The bike rental program is funded through a grant of roughly $10,000 from a campus sustainability fee students pay each semester. The bikes will be available for short- and long-term rentals starting in April through the UAF Outdoor Adventures program.

According to the News-Miner, the bike rental program is part of a larger UAF campus drive to reduce vehicle traffic and auto exhaust emissions. The program funds 20 new entry-level Kona mountain bikes, which will be available to students. The campus also has a stockpile of about 100 used bikes that could become available once they are fixed up.

Fairbanks bicycle designer Simon Rakower told the News-Miner that previous attempts to start a campus bike rental program stalled because they relied on donated used bikes, which sometimes required obscure parts or constant repairs. Starting with a fleet of similar-model new bikes will make this effort more successful, he said.

At this time, the plan is for the program to start after spring break-up and continue through the summer and into the fall. But at this time it’s unclear if the bikes will be available for winter riding, even though Fairbanks has a large winter cycling community. Winterizing the bikes costs a lot of money, and riding on the snow and ice is more than most casual cyclists want to attempt.

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Alaska has two more Bicycle Friendly Businesses, according to the League of American Bicyclists, which sponsors the awards program.

During the National Bike Summit held earlier this month in Washington, D.C., REI Anchorage received a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business award while Alaska Pacific University received an honorable mention.

The two Alaska businesses were among 55 new Bicycle Friendly Business honorees for Spring 2011. The League of American Bicyclists honors businesses twice a year, in March and September.

These two Anchorage businesses join four previous Bicycle Friendly Business award-winners from Alaska — the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (gold level, Fall 2009), Green Star Inc. (bronze level, Fall 2009), Southcentral Foundation (silver level, Fall 2010) and Providence Alaska Medical Center (bronze level, Fall 2010). There are four main levels for the Bicycle Friendly Business awards — Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze — plus Honorable Mention (which doesn’t carry the full weight of the other four levels).

According to REI Anchorage Outreach Specialist Mike Morganson, “Some things we listed in our application included indoor and outdoor employee bicycle parking, a bike commuter bathroom/changing room, an employee shower, commuter lockers, a monthly ‘Carbon Commute’ spreadsheet with awards for frequent commuters, weekly or bi-weekly Knucklehead rides open to employees and family/friends, generous employee discount on REI’s Novara bikes, clothing and accessories, and an encouraging environment. There may have been more, but that’s what I recall.”

No details were available from Alaska Pacific University, but the school offers the Jim Mahaffey Trail System on campus (about 20 kilometers of continuous trail), an outdoor recreation program with equipment rentals, a gym with showers and other programs for students and faculty.

The Bicycle Friendly Business program is part of the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America series of awards. The Bicycle Friendly America series of awards also includes the Bicycle Friendly Community awards, Bicycle Friendly State rankings and, new this year, the Bicycle Friendly University program (20 universities were honored at the National Bike Summit, none from Alaska). Alaska has two Bicycle Friendly Community award-winners — Sitka (bronze level, Spring 2008) and Anchorage (bronze level, Fall 2009). In the 2010 Bicycle Friendly State rankings, Alaska was 39th out of 50.

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I received a message from Mary Jane Shows, a Legislative Aide for Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), that HB57 (Alaska Bike Bill) will be up for a hearing in the House Transportation Committee at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 10 Friday, March 11. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The time on this hearing has changed from what previously was published. Please note the change.)

This is the second hearing before that committee, and the bill is early on the agenda so hopefully people won’t have to wait long to testify. The committee will vote on the bill, and if it passes it will move on to the House Finance Committee.

If you want to testify, contact your local Legislative Information Office to find out how to conference call into the hearing. If you have written testimony, ask your LIO staff how to make sure the committee members receive it in time for the hearing.

More information about the bill was posted last month on the Alaska Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance website.

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