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May is National Bike Month, and several Alaska communities have planned a variety of events to help celebrate this national event designed to promote and encourage the use of bikes as a regular form of transportation. In addition, National Bike to Work Week is May 16-20, and National Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20, so there will be community rides to celebrate those events, too.

The Municipality of Anchorage kicks off the month with a Bike to Work Festival from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, May 6. This event was a fun way to get people ready for a month of bike commuting. It features bike safety workshops, repair and maintenance, information on local bike clubs, bike rentals and tours, and registration for Bike to Work Day. The awards for the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage “Freeze Your Keys” bike commuting challenge in April also will be presented. These events are a partnership between the Municipality of Anchorage, the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage, Green Star Inc., the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), Southcentral Foundation, Chain Reaction Cycles, REI Anchorage, the Alaska Club, the Municipality of Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services, the Alaska Injury Prevention Center, Off the Chain Bicycle Cooperative and Screamin’ Yeti Designs.

The Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage will be helping several organizations with National Bike Month and Bike to Work Week/Day activities in Anchorage. In addition to helping host the Bike to Work Day Festival on May 6, BCA will host a Bike to Work Day clinic at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, at REI Anchorage to help remind cyclists about the rules of the road and other safety tips, help people find gear and learn how to make their rides more enjoyable. Look for more details in the upcoming events box in the right column of BCA’s website link above.

Fairbanks will be celebrating its third annual Bike to Work Week. This event started when the Fairbanks, North Pole and Fairbanks North Star Borough mayors got together and decided to organize a challenge for bike commuters, encouraging residents to “Burn Calories, Not Gas.” Participants in the Fairbanks area can log their bike trips each day during the week for a chance to win prizes. Details for this year’s challenge still aren’t on the website (other than the date and some partners/sponsors), but you can see information from last year’s event.

In Juneau, the Juneau Freewheelers will host events for National Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day, but details haven’t been posted on the club’s website yet. According to Dan Robinson, one of the organizers, a challenge between local office buildings, branches of government and schools is being organized to see who can get the most trips/miles in for the week. Cycle Alaska will provide simple repairs on Bike to Work Day, and will also hold onto people’s bikes during the day if they don’t have bike parking. Another event is a free movie, “Take a Seat,” about a guy who biked from Prudhoe Bay to South America, after work on May 20 at the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater. In past years, Juneau has hosted group rides from several locations in to town with a stop for breakfast along the way.

In Sitka, there will be a variety of events during the month (see flier next to this paragraph), including three lunch-and-learn panel discussions at the SEARHC (SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium) S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, Kettleson Memorial Library and Sitka Community Hospital; the Sitka Bike Rodeo for kids at the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka hangar (co-sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sitka); radio interviews; a National Bike to Work Week contest for bike commuters; capped off with a National Bike to Work Day pancake breakfast at the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus.

Also, if other communities are interested in hosting their own events, they should check out the League of American Bicyclists site for National Bike Month. This page includes planning guides, promotional materials, radio/TV PSAs and other helpful items for communities wanting to plan National Bike Month and/or Bike to Work Week/Day events.

Bob Laurie, the Statewide Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, compiled a list of talking points last year with bike safety information and reasons why more people should bike to work or school. That list is posted below as a PDF file. Gov. Sean Parnell also issued a proclamation honoring May as National Bike Month, May 16-20 as National Bike to Work Week and May 20 as National Bike to Work Day.

• National Bike Month Talking Points 2010

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If you happen to be in Anchorage during February, you might want to check out the Winter Bike Festival 2011, hosted by the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage.

This event is highlighted by two events — the Winter City 50K Populaire on Sunday, Feb. 13, and the film festival on Thursday, Feb. 17. There also are other events linked to the Winter Bike Festival, such as a Bike First Friday event on Feb. 4.

The Winter City 50K Populaire is 50 kilometers (31 miles) of riding that covers just about all of Anchorage. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Cafe Amsterdam (in the Metro Mall across Benson from the Sears Mall), and the non-competitive ride starts at 9 a.m. This is a benefit ride for Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage and there is a $10 registration fee. Cyclists wanting to rent fat bikes (the bikes with extra-wide tires for riding on the snow, such as the Surly Pugsley) can contact Arctic Cycles at 351-8545 to reserve a fat bike rental for $35 (a limited supply of fat bikes is available, so first-come, first-served). The tour includes stops at several coffee shop/checkpoints (including the Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop, The Sugar Spoon, The Cake Studio and New Sagaya City Market) before finishing at Moose’s Tooth. A YouTube video is embedded into this post below to give you a preview of the ride.

The film festival starts at 8 p.m. at the Bear Tooth Theatre Pub, and two films will be shown — “Cycling Copenhagen” and “Bicycle Dreams.” Tickets are $7. “Cycling Copenhagen” shows how Copenhagen, Denmark, has been able to become one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities with more than 50 percent of all commutes being by bike. “Bicycle Dreams” is about the Race Across America (RAAM), a grueling race that has featured several Alaska cyclists over the years.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here are links to post-event coverage from KTVA-Channel 11 and the Anchorage Daily News (photo slideshow). Don’t forget, this event was a fundraiser for the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage.

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May is National Bike Month, and several Alaska communities have planned a variety of events to help celebrate this national event designed to promote and encourage the use of bikes as a regular form of transportation. In addition, National Bike to Work Week is May 17-21, and National Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 21, so there will be community rides to celebrate those events, too.

The Municipality of Anchorage kicked off the month with a Bike to Work Fashion Show and Festival on May 1. This event was a fun way to get people ready for a month of bike commuting. It featured bike safety workshops, repair and maintenance, information on local bike clubs, bike rentals and tours, and registration for Bike to Work Day. These events are a partnership between the Municipality of Anchorage, State of Alaska, Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage, Green Star Inc., the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and Southcentral Foundation.

The Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage will be helping several organizations with National Bike Month and Bike to Work Week/Day activities in Anchorage. BCA also will host its inaugural Bike First Friday on May 7. This is a family event that features a scavenger hunt around town with the finish at the Anchorage Museum. BCA also will host a Bike to Work Day clinic on Wednesday, May 12, to help remind cyclists about the rules of the roads and other safety tips.

Fairbanks will be celebrating its second annual Bike to Work Week (as May 16-22 instead of May 17-21). Participants in the Fairbanks area can log their bike trips each day during the week for a chance to win prizes.

In Juneau, the Juneau Freewheelers will host events for National Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day, but details haven’t been posted on the club’s website yet. Contact numbers are listed on the site, in case there isn’t an update soon. In past years Juneau has had group rides in to town with a stop for breakfast along the way.

In Sitka, there will be a variety of events during the month (see flier next to this paragraph), including a couple of lunch-and-learns at the SEARHC (SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium) S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital and Sitka Community Hospital, the Sitka Bike Rodeo for kids at the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka hangar (co-sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sitka), radio interviews, a National Bike to Work Week contest capped off with a National Bike to Work Day pancake breakfast at the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus.

The University of Alaska’s employee wellness program includes National Bike Month information for its campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau, with special events, including group photos and a chance to win massage cards, for National Bike to Work Day on May 21.

Also, if other communities are interested in hosting their own events, they should check out the League of American Bicyclists’ site for National Bike Month. This page also includes promotional materials, radio/TV PSAs and other helpful items for communities wanting to plan National Bike Month and/or Bike to Work Week/Day events.

Bob Laurie, the Statewide Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, compiled a list of talking points with bike safety information and reasons why more people should bike to work or school. That list is posted below as a PDF file. Gov. Sean Parnell also issued a proclamation honoring May as National Bike Month, May 17-21 as National Bike to Work Week and May 21 as National Bike to Work Day.

National Bike Month Talking Points 2010

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Many adults remember walking or riding their bikes to and from school. How many times do we remember Grandpa telling us about how hard his walk to school was back in the day (“I walked seven miles uphill in six feet of snow each way. You kids have it easy, I tell you.”)?

But over the last couple of decades, fewer kids have been able to walk or bike to school. Now they catch a school bus or are driven to class by their parents, even when they live less than a half-mile away from the school building.

In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children To School Day in Chicago, modeling it after a program in Great Britain. By 2002, all 50 states and more than 3 million students were participating in International Walk (or Bike) to School Day. This is an event that promotes safer and improved streets and sidewalks, healthy habits and clean air.

There still is time for schools in Alaska to organize their own International Walk (or Bike) to School Day Events. To get started, go to the State of Alaska’s Safe Routes To School site. There should be a list of events scheduled for Alaska schools (if your school isn’t listed, then create and event and register it). You also can go to the National Center for Safe Routes To School site for more information.

Many parents will organize walking school buses (where kids join a group of walkers as it passes their house, with several parents in the mix for safety). Local merchants can donate door prizes that are raffled off to kids who walk or bike to school (reflective arm/leg bands, bike lights, bike helmets, etc., are good prizes). It’s good to have parents involved, because they can note problems along the route, such as a blind corner with no sidewalk for walkers or a house with an aggressive dog. Also, don’t forget to reward safe practices, such as all cyclists should wear bike helmets (Sitka has a mandatory helmet ordinance for youth) and making sure jackets have reflectives so drivers can see the kids.

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