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Posts Tagged ‘Municipality of Anchorage’

The Municipality of Anchorage has a world-class trail system, and over the next few weeks Anchorage will host four public meetings/open houses to work on an update of the Anchorage Trails Plan.

The Anchorage Trails Plan is the third part of Anchorage’s larger Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, which also includes the Anchorage Pedestrian Plan (adopted in October 2007) and the Anchorage Bicycle Plan (adopted in March 2010). The last time the Anchorage Trails Plan was updated was 1997.

According to AMATS/Transportation Planner Erika McConnell, the Municipality of Anchorage has been contacting local trail user groups to provide them with information and have them complete a survey about the plan. A list of the groups already contacted (bicycle, hiking, running, equestrian, sled dogs, ski, skijoring, snowmachine, water/canoe/kayak, etc.) is available on the Transportation Planning/AMATS Anchorage Trails Plan website, and the site encourages other trail groups to contact the Municipality to be included in the process.

The four public meetings/open houses are scheduled for:

  • Anchorage Bowl (#1) — Thursday, April 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Wendler Middle School, 2905 Lake Otis Parkway (south of Northern Lights Blvd)
  • Anchorage Bowl (#2) — Tuesday, May 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Spring Hill Elementary School, 9911 Lake Otis Parkway (south of Abbott Rd)
  • Chugiak-Eagle River — Thursday, May 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m., C-ER Community Room, Eagle River Town Center, 12001 Business Blvd
  • Girdwood — Monday, May 7, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Girdwood Community Room, Girdwood Library

The Anchorage Trails Plan website has links to the 1997 version of the plan, so people can review it before making their suggestions about what needs to be updated. If you have comments about the 1997 version of the plan and what needs to be updated, or if you have any other trails-related comment, please send it to amatsinfo@muni.org.

In an e-mail to members of the Alaska Randonneurs bicycle group, Kevin Turinsky wrote: “As cyclists, runners, skiers, and walkers, we use these trails, and we pay for these trails. Therefore, I encourage you to take an active role in the planning of Anchorage’s network of trails. More than just providing recreational and transportation opportunities to Anchorage residents and visitors, our well planned and maintained trail system benefits the quality of life for all residents. It makes Anchorage a more attractive and vibrant place to live and work, which is an important consideration for new and innovative businesses and employers considering locating here, as well as attracting productive talent to our community.”

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The Municipality of Anchorage will close a mile-long section of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail starting Monday, Aug. 1, so it can begin making the first significant repairs to the trail since it was built back in the 1980s. The closure is expected to last about a week.

The trail will be closed from Milepost 4.1 to 5.1, a section of trail that starts at Point Woronzof near the end of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport runways, wraps around the Anchorage Waste Water Utility sewage treatment plant, then continues along the bluffs toward Kincaid Park. Due to the remote location of the repairs and proximity to the airport, there will be no detours and cyclists, hikers and other trail users are encouraged to find other routes during the closure.

The trail is being closed so it can be leveled and resurfaced, since several large “alligator cracks” have developed which can be dangerous to users. According to the Anchorage Daily News, the repairs will cost about $80,000 and will be funded by the Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department’s regular budget. This launches a multi-year project to rehabilitate the entire Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

• Municipality of Anchorage press release about the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail repairs

• Municipality of Anchorage flier/map about the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail repairs

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Last week was a good week for the City and Borough of Juneau, which found out it not only became Alaska’s third city to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community (bronze level) designation from the League of American Bicyclists, but it  also became the only Alaska city recognized when the first Walk Friendly Communities (honorable mention) were announced.

When the first batch of Walk Friendly Communities were announced on Tuesday, April 26, by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, the list only listed 11 communities — one at the platinum level (Seattle); four gold (Ann Arbor, Mich.; Arlington, Va.; Hoboken, N.J.; Santa Barbara, Calif.); two silver (Charlottesville, Va.; Decatur, Ga.); and four bronze (Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Wilsonville, Ore.). No honorable mention communities were listed in the press release, but eight communities, including Juneau, were listed as honorable mention on the Walk Friendly Communities’ Community Profile page.

According to Juneau’s Community Profile page, Juneau “is designated as an Honorable Mention community due to impressive accessibility of facilities and excellent management of pedestrian facilities in a geographically constrained environment.” Some of the highlights of Juneau’s application included its ADA transition plan, its non-motorized transportation plan, its comprehensive wayfinding program downtown, and the several historic and themed walking maps available to residents and tourists.

The Walk Friendly Communities program is new and modeled after the Bicycle Friendly Community program from the League of American Bicyclists. The application period for the second round of Walk Friendly Communities opened on May 1 and closes on June 15.

On Saturday, April 30, Juneau found out it earned a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists, joining 20 other communities to receive awards. Juneau — incorrectly listed as the City and County of Juneau, Alaska, on the awards press release instead of City and Borough of Juneau (Alaska does not use the county form of government) — joins Sitka (May 2008) and Anchorage (October 2009) as official Bicycle Friendly Communities in Alaska, all at the bronze level. So far there have been 179 total communities (out of 452 applications) in 44 states to receive Bicycle Friendly Community awards at the platinum, gold, silver, bronze and honorable mention levels.

According to the page about Juneau’s Bicycle Friendly Community application, Juneau was honored for building three bicycle/pedestrian-only bridges last year, including two that create new links in Juneau’s non-motorized transportation system that includes 88 miles of bike lanes and 19 miles of shared-use paths; the adoption of the 2009 Non-Motorized Transportation Plan as part of its Comprehensive Plan to put new pressure on the Alaska Department of Transportation to improve bicycle facilities; the plan to implement a Safe Routes To School program at all Juneau elementary and middle schools; and having city health and wellness staff working with major employers and other groups to hold Traffic Skills 101 classes, bike rodeos and other education programs.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program is part of the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America campaign that also includes Bicycle Friendly Businesses (Alaska has one gold, one silver, three bronze and one honorable mention winners), Bicycle Friendly Universities and Bicycle Friendly State rankings (Alaska ranked 39th out of 50 in 2010, the most recent state rankings). The deadline for the next round of Bicycle Friendly Community awards is July 22.

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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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A winter bicyclist rides down 10th Avenue in Anchorage near the Delaney Park Strip during November 2009

A winter bicyclist rides down 10th Avenue in Anchorage near the Delaney Park Strip during November 2009

Kristi Wood and Brian Litmans from Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage recently sent out this update about the Title 9 rewrite issue Anchorage cyclists were having with the Anchorage Police Department. Our two previous stories about the Title 9 issue are linked here and here. It looks like most of the safety issues have been resolved in favor of the cyclists and pedestrians who use the bike trails, sidewalks and other separated paths. For more information, here is the letter Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage (BCA) sent to members and posted on its website:

Since the summer of 2009, BCA has been working to ensure that the Title 9 rewrite is sensible and provides adequate protections for bicyclists. Title 9 is the Municipality of Anchorage Traffic Code, providing the rules and regulations of the road and it is going through a major update that, in the near future, will be reviewed and eventually approved by the Assembly.

When the initial proposed changes were released, BCA became concerned about one rule in particular because it placed bicyclists in a dangerous predicament.  The proposed change sought to require bicyclists utilizing sidewalks to yield to motor-vehicle traffic when crossing driveways, intersections or crosswalks. The underlying reason for the change was that one of our most common crash scenarios is when bicyclists traveling on sidewalks are hit by motorists.  When a bicyclist on a sidewalk approaches an intersection traveling quickly, it gives the motorist little time to react. But that is only part of the problem. The other aspect of these crash scenarios is that motorists just aren’t looking for bicycle (or pedestrian) traffic when coming out of driveways, parking lots or intersections.

Anchorage Police Department’s (APD) original proposed language to change Title 9 would have taken an auto-centric approach placing all duties and responsibilities upon the bicyclist and turned the classic “yield to the more vulnerable user” system on its head, requiring bicyclists to yield to motorists. It could have led to situations where the bicyclist would be liable for damage due to a motorist while they lie on the sidewalk injured, or even worse in a hospital, simply because they were traveling on the sidewalk and crossing an intersection or driveway without yielding.

BCA worked tirelessly behind the scenes to search for sensible and safe alternatives.  We have spoken with bicycle attorneys from across the country. We have researched language in all 50 states to see how others address bicycle use on sidewalks (hint – not one state requires bicyclists to yield to cars). In August, BCA put the APD in touch with an expert in the field, Preston Tyree.  Preston Tyree is the Director of Education for the League of American Bicyclists and was brought up to Alaska by BCA to provide a 20-hour course where graduates would then become League-certified bicycling instructors.  Preston provided examples from other states that have worked to find a solution to the problems posed when bicyclists are on sidewalks.

Over the Fall, BCA worked closely with APD to reach consensus. The result is that bicyclists do not have to yield to motorists when traveling on sidewalks but they do have to approach driveways, parking lot entrances and exits, curb cuts and street intersections at a reasonable and prudent speed and they have to slow down to a reasonable and prudent speed when passing pedestrians.  So what does that all really mean? It means you should be able to stop if you see that the motorist has no intention of stopping and yielding to you, or if you see that the motorist clearly isn’t looking in your direction, and you should be able to avoid hitting a pedestrian if they make a quick turn or stop.
BCA’s first priority is making Anchorage safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and we feel the revised language meets those needs.  It is a good law because it protects bicyclists without being overly burdensome.

BCA is also very excited with the other improvements to Title 9 that we pushed for, including the revision of the code to provide a three foot passing zone for bicyclists. Throughout the Nation, states and cities have been passing the “3 foot rule.” This safe passing distance helps motorists know what a safe passing space is.

BCA would like to thank APD for their sincere efforts to work closely with the bicycling community to find a solution we can support. We also want to thank all the BCA supporters who contacted the Anchorage Assembly and the Public Safety Committee last summer to tell them what you thought of the proposed language.  That effort led to placing the Title 9 rewrite on hold while the Anchorage Police Department reviewed the language and looked for alternatives with BCA, and is in large part the reason we can now strongly support the changes to Title 9.

We have worked hard to get changes that protect bicyclists. But it is really up to you. Following the rules of the road is the key to staying safe. And it helps motorists respect the cycling community in general.

You can view the new language on our website. The Anchorage Assembly wants to complete the Title 9 rewrite, and plans on a December vote. We look forward to a successful conclusion of our collective effort to making Anchorage more bicycle-friendly.

Thanks again for all your support. All those emails and letters you wrote, and those phone calls you made, are what made this possible.

Kristi Wood and Brian Litmans
You can find the proposed changes here: Title 9 Bicycle Update – proposed changes (opens as PDF file).

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Congratulations to the Southcentral Foundation and the Providence Alaska Medical Center, which became Alaska’s third and fourth businesses to win a Bicycle Friendly Business Award from the League of American Bicyclists. Southcentral Foundation, a regional tribal health organization based in Anchorage, won a silver level Bicycle Friendly Business Award when the Fall 2010 winners were announced on Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Interbike Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nev. Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital, was awarded a bronze level award.

“Bicycle Friendly Businesses are innovative businesses that demonstrate their commitment to encouraging healthy lifestyles, creating more affordable transportation, and leading the way in sustainable business practices and environmental stewardship,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. Since the BFB program started in 2008, there have been 196 businesses in 31 states to win the award.

The Bicycle Friendly Business awards program is part of the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program, which also includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State and starting this fall a new Bicycle Friendly University program. The Bicycle Friendly America programs are designed to help promote cycling in the United States through education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement and evaluation (aka, the Five E’s).

Southcentral Foundation (SCF) has adopted several innovations to get its employees biking to work. SCF recently built a locking cage at a campus parking garage so employees can store their bikes while they work. SCF also built biking to work into its annual employee wellness plan, and employees who participate in National Bike to Work Day are treated to breakfast, a bike blessing, complimentary massages, a live band, pizza party and games for the family after work. The number of employees participating in National Bike to Work Day has increased 75 percent since 2008, and more than 15 percent of employees now ride their bikes to work during the summer months.

“Southcentral Foundation is making simple changes to their transportation policies to encourage biking to work,” Clarke said. “They are setting a community-wide example.”

Specific details were not available for Providence Alaska Medical Center’s award, but the health organization has been active in many bicycle activities such as Anchorage’s community celebration of National Bike to Work Day. Providence also serves as the lead agency for the Safe Kids Alaska childhood injury prevention program that supplies bike helmets to the Municipality of Anchorage to distribute to children whose families can’t afford one (Anchorage has a bike helmet ordinance for kids).

In Fall 2009, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC, which shares a campus with SCF) won a gold level award and Green Star Inc. won a bronze level award to become Alaska’s first Bicycle Friendly Businesses. Alaska also has two Bicycle Friendly Community award-winners — Sitka in Spring 2008 and Anchorage in Fall 2009. In the 2010 state ranking list for the Bicycle Friendly States program, Alaska was 39th out of the 50 states.

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