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Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Friendly America’

For the fifth straight year, Washington ranks No. 1 in the Bicycle Friendly State rankings compiled by the League of American Bicyclists. Alaska dropped from No. 29 to No. 33 in this year’s rankings, which were released on May 22 as part of National Bike Month.

Trailing Washington in the rankings were Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Maine and Delaware, all states above the Mason-Dixon Line. The bottom five states were Montana at No. 46, Alabama, West Virginia, North Dakota and Arkansas at No. 50. Even though Washington ranked No. 1 for the fifth straight year, the Seattle Bike Blog wrote there are several improvements the state can make to be even friendlier to cyclists. CNN posted this article about the Bicycle Friendly State rankings.

States were ranked using a 1-5 scale (1 is bad, 5 is good) in five categories — legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning. Alaska received a 4 in policies and programs, a 3 in education and encouragement, and a 2 in each of the other three categories.

One of Alaska’s strengths was its bicycle commuter mode share is nearly double the national average (and it’s nearly 10 times the average in Sitka). The top tip for improvement was to adopt a vulnerable user law that includes a minimum safe passing distance and stricter consequences for violations by motor vehicle drivers.

Alaska has made great strides to move up the rankings, where it ranked just 43rd in 2008 and a dismal 47th in 2009. Alaska moved up to 39th in 2010 and 29th in 2011. Since 2008, Alaska has added three Bicycle Friendly Communities — Sitka (2008, bronze, renewed in 2012, bronze), Anchorage (2009, bronze) and Juneau (2011, bronze). Alaska also has added nine Bicycle Friendly Businesses — Anchorage Native Tribal Health Consortium (2009, gold), Southcentral Foundation (2010, silver), Green Star Inc. (2009, bronze), Providence Alaska Medical Center (2010, bronze), REI-Anchorage (2011, bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (2011, honorable mention), SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium-Sitka Campus (2011, bronze), CRW Engineering Group LLC (2012, silver) and Restoration Science and Engineering (2012, honorable mention). Alaska has no universities recognized by the Bicycle Friendly University program.

• 2012 Bicycle Friendly State scorecard for Alaska

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(The following article originally appeared on the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition website, Celebrate Sitka Cycling, on May 14, 2012.)

In 2008, Sitka became the first Alaska community to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community award. On Monday, May 14, Sitka became the first Alaska community to earn a renewal of its Bicycle Friendly Community designation.

With Monday’s national announcement to kick off National Bike to Work Week, Sitka maintained its bronze level designation in the Bicycle Friendly Community program run by the League of American Bicyclists. Sitka now is one of three recognized communities in Alaska (Anchorage earned a BFC designation in 2009 and Juneau in 2011, also at the bronze level). There currently are 214 communities in 47 states with Bicycle Friendly Community designations (at the platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels). Sitka’s award is good for four years, expiring in February 2016.

“Sitka is pleased to once again receive recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community and the first city in Alaska to be a repeat recipient,” Sitka Mayor Cheryl Westover said. “Thanks to the many Sitkans who actively support bicycling.”

“This is great news and a great time to thank everyone involved in helping us reach this Sitka Health Summit goal,” said Doug Osborne, who coordinates the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition. “Just the other day, I heard a visitor say how neat it was to see all the people in Sitka who are getting around on bikes. I have to agree, because there so many benefits that come from biking and being a bicycle-friendly town. I’m grateful to everyone who helped us get this designation and the positive national attention that comes with it.”

Sitka first applied for the Bicycle Friendly Community program as one of the community health priority projects chosen during the 2007 Sitka Health Summit, and it was the first project completed. The 2011 Sitka Health Summit supported renewing Sitka’s status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The 2012 Sitka Health Summit takes place on Oct. 3-6 at a variety of locations around Sitka. Over the past five years, the Sitka Health Summit resulted in high-profile projects such as starting the Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens in Sitka, supporting the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, bringing local businesses and insurance companies together to promote employee wellness programs, the Choose Respect mural about domestic violence prevention, planting fruit trees in Sitka and the award-winning Fish to Schools project.

“First and foremost, thanks to the bicycle commuters who are now riding to work at almost 10 times the national average,” Osborne said. “Secondly, thanks to the courteous motorists who are sharing the road. And lastly, thanks to all the groups, workplaces, schools, shops and individuals who have made various contributions over the years.”

In the application feedback form provided by the League of American Bicyclists, Sitka received high marks for its number of regular bike commuters (4.9 percent, nearly 10 times the national average and five times the state average), Sitka’s promotion of National Bike Month events in May, the Share-the-Road and Be Safe Be Seen education campaigns, cycling workshops, the low number of motor vehicle/bicyclist crashes (only eight in five years reported to Sitka Police), and for several unique cycling events. The Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka’s largest employer, earned a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business designation in September 2011.

“One of the things that impressed our reviewers about Sitka is the one-of-a-kind local biking events, like the Winter Cycling Celebration,” said Bill Nesper, Vice President of Programs for the League of American Bicyclists. “Events like this really help people see that biking is a great way to get around for transportation and recreation all year round.”

In order to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community designation, communities have to complete an application that covers five main focus areas called The Five E’s — Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation/Planning. There are more than 100 questions in the application, asking everything from how many miles of bike lanes to how many schools participate in the Safe Routes To School program. Communities also are asked about their biking or non-motorized transportation plans and how they are meeting their goals.

Monday’s announcement saw 49 communities earn new, improve or maintain current Bicycle Friendly Community designations. The Bicycle Friendly Community program is part of the larger Bicycle Friendly America program that includes Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University designations. In addition to the League of American Bicyclists, the Bicycle Friendly America program is supported by Bikes Belong and Trek Bicycle’s One World Two Wheels Campaign.

“We aren’t surprised that this was the largest number of new and renewing applicants that we’ve ever had,” League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke said. “The popularity of this program is clear evidence that simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development.”

• Feedback for Sitka’s 2012 Bicycle Friendly Community application

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Alaska has two more Bicycle Friendly Businesses, according to the League of American Bicyclists, which sponsors the awards program. When the awards were announced on April 18, CRW Engineering Group LLC of Anchorage received a silver level award and Restoration Science and Engineering of Anchorage earned an honorable mention.

There were 67 new businesses honored during the Spring 2012 Bicycle Friendly Business awards, ranging from large Fortune 500 companies to small professional offices. Since the program started three years ago, there have been 412 businesses honored with the Bicycle Friendly Business designation. The honor is awarded twice a year (spring and fall) and lasts for four years.

The two new Alaska businesses join six other businesses from Anchorage and one from Sitka to have a Bicycle Friendly Business designation (available at Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze levels, plus Honorable Mention). The other Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Alaska are the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (gold), Southcentral Foundation (silver), Providence Alaska Medical Center (bronze), Green Star Inc. (bronze), REI Anchorage (bronze), SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium/SEARHC-Sitka Campus (bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (honorable mention).

According to a press release from the League of American Bicyclists, bicycle-friendly businesses improve the workplace and contribute to the community and improve their overall earnings. CRW Engineering Group encourages bicycling as an easy option for transportation and organizes group rides for a variety of biking levels and distances, including race, mountain, street and trail.

“CRW Engineering Group is at the forefront of a movement to make American businesses more competitive, sustainable and attractive to the best and brightest employees,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “An investment in bicycling enhances employee health, increases sustainability and improves the bottom line.”

Moving forward, CRW Engineering Group will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League to become even more bicycle-friendly. When our employees bike, everyone gets involved and that supports a fun and healthy work culture.

CRW Engineering Group works on a lot of road and park projects in Anchorage, and it uses its design expertise to make them safer for walkers and bikers. In addition, CRW Engineering also is involved in the Anchorage Park Foundation’s 50 Bike for 50 Kids project and CRW staff participate in Anchorage’s National Bike to Work Day events as the CRW CReWsers.

Restoration Science and Engineering is a smaller firm that also works on some road and trail projects (most of its projects are civil or environmental engineering). Staff have participated in Anchorage’s National Bike to Work Day events. Limited details of the firm’s bike-friendly activities were available. An Honorable Mention award doesn’t carry the same weight as a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze level in the Bicycle Friendly Business program.

To learn more about the Bicycle Friendly Business program, go to http://www.bikeleague.org/businesses/. The BFB program is part of the League of American Bicyclist’s larger Bicycle Friendly America program that also includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly University programs. Alaska has three Bicycle Friendly Communities — Sitka, Anchorage and Juneau.

• Spring 2012 award list of Bicycle Friendly Business winners

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The League of American Bicyclists on Thursday announced that the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) has been awarded a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Business award.

SEARHC is the only Alaska organization among the 111 businesses nationwide to earn an award during the Fall 2011 cycle. SEARHC joins six other businesses from Anchorage that earned Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) awards over the past two years — the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (gold), Southcentral Foundation (silver), Providence Alaska Medical Center (bronze), Green Star Inc. (bronze), REI Anchorage (bronze) and Alaska Pacific University (honorable mention). Since the BFB program started two years ago, 344 organizations in 40 states have been honored for making their businesses more bike friendly for employees and customers. These organizations come from a wide range of industries, such as health care, manufacturing and government.

“We are happy to recognize SEARHC’s Sitka campus for its investment in bicycling as a vehicle for improved employee health, social responsibility and economic growth,” League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke said. “Some of the most successful companies in the world are showing that investing in bicycling is not only good for health and sustainability but also for the bottom line.”

The Bicycle Friendly Business program provides a free roadmap for businesses wanting to make their organizations more friendly to bikes. Businesses have to complete a lengthy application that includes information about the number of bike commuters, facilities available for them (such as racks, showers and lockers), education programs and ways the business connects with the local bicycle community. The SEARHC Sitka campus took an active role in Sitka’s 2008 application to become the first Bicycle Friendly Community in Alaska. SEARHC also promotes healthy and safe cycling to its employees and the community through its health promotion, injury prevention and employee wellness programs. The Bike Users Group (BUG) at SEARHC on Tuesday, Sept. 13, launched a new Bicycle Ambassadors program that will help mentor novice bike riders and provide role models for other cyclists.

“As a health organization, it is important that we walk, or in this case bike, the talk,” SEARHC President/CEO Roald Helgesen said. “This award is a good way to demonstrate how small lifestyle changes can lead to better health, and it recognizes the work our employees who are role-modeling these healthy lifestyle changes.”

“Bicycling to and from work is a great way to build some heart-healthy physical activity into the schedule,” said SEARHC Health Educator Doug Osborne, who serves as bike coordinator for the employee wellness team. “Many people like commuter cycling because it’s a knee-friendly/low-impact workout, plus it’s fun. In Sitka we are lucky because things are close together, the vast majority of our motorists are courteous to cyclists, and, with the right gear, it’s possible to safely ride year round.”

Winners of the Bicycle Friendly Business award are allowed to use the designation for the next two years. To learn more about the BFB program, go to http://www.bikeleague.org/businesses/. The BFB program is part of the League of American Bicyclist’s larger Bicycle Friendly America program that also includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and Bicycle Friendly University programs. Alaska has three Bicycle Friendly Communities — Sitka, Anchorage and Juneau.

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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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