Are you concerned about walking conditions in Sitka? Do you have ideas about how we can improve the local walking experience and make it safer? Then join Walk Sitka at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the Swan Lake Senior Center as we meet to discuss Sitka’s walkability.
Walk Sitka is a group formed after the 2012 Sitka Health Summit, when community members chose improving Sitka’s walkability as one of the three community wellness projects for 2012-13. As part of its project, Walk Sitka will apply for a national Walk Friendly Communities award using the community walkability assessment tool developed by the WFC program. Recent research has shown that walkable communities improve local health and economies.
At recent meetings Walk Sitka group members have been reviewing different parts of the WFC application, and we will be going over these sections when we meet on Jan. 23. We also will be reviewing a draft mission and vision statement that also lists the group’s goals.
For more information about the group, contact Elisabeth Crane at 747-0386 or Charles Bingham at 738-8875, or visit our new website at https://walksitka.wordpress.com/. To learn more about about the Walk Friendly Commuities program, go to http://www.walkfriendly.org/.
• Walk Sitka draft mission and vision statement with group goals
The Sitka chapter of Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) will host a senior hiking club event at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16. This event is open to seniors age 60 and older of all skill and fitness levels, and participants should meet at Swan Lake Senior Center where the group will decide where it will hike. Usually the group picks moderate level hikes.
These senior hiking events usually happen on the second Wednesday each month, but in January it will take place on the third Wednesday. SAIL provides transportation to the trailhead and back, a snack, water and trekking poles.
Sitka ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) Program Coordinator Nick Ponzetti usually participates in the walks and carries bear spray, a first-aid kit and provides trail knowledge. Members of the Sitka Conservation Society also join the hikes to provide trail knowledge. There is a $5 activity fee, but scholarships are available to keep cost from preventing people from participating.
In addition to the monthly senior hiking club events, SAIL also offers the SOAR (Senior Outdoor Activities and Recreation) program which offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for those age 60 or older. The ORCA program provides a variety of activities for disabled residents. To learn more, contact Nick Ponzetti at 747-6859.
A flier for a June 2012 community meeting about the Sitka Sea Walk.
The Sitka Sea Walk is scheduled to start construction this summer, and when it is completed it will provide Sitka residents and visitors with a scenic coastline walk from Crescent Harbor Park to Sitka National Historical Park.
The project has been in planning phases since September 2011, with community meetings to get feedback from residents about what they’d like to see in the sea walk plans. According to Monique Anderson of Anderson Land Planning in Sitka, who has been working with the city, “the project is close to 95 percent complete for design with construction anticipated starting this summer.”
The City and Borough of Sitka Department of Public Works has a Sitka Sea Walk website with more information about the project (last updated after the Sept. 28, 2012, public meeting), including two YouTube videos that feature 3D video clips showing different options for parts of the project. The Daily Sitka Sentinel ran an article in September that included highlights form the meeting, including a note from project engineer Dan Tadic that the cost was just under $2 million and funds are available. The planning process for the Sitka Sea Walk also has been integrated with a plan to to improve Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Crescent Harbor parking lot.
Jones & Jones Architecture and Landscape Architecture of Seattle (click Sitka Sea Walk in right column, or click here for a PDF) did much of the design work for the project. The City and Borough of Sitka worked with the Sitka Sound Science Center and Sitka National Historical Park about their sections of the route.
Not only will this project improve the walkability of Sitka, it will help our community celebrate its coastline.
When you walk or bike through Sitka during winter’s dark months, are you making sure to “Be Safe, Be Seen?”
Even though a pedestrian may be on sidewalks separated from cars, you still need to make sure your clothes are bright and reflective. That way drivers can see you when they leave their home and business driveways and enter traffic.
Too many people in Sitka wear black clothes during the winter, including when they are walking or biking. This doesn’t give the drivers a fighting chance to see you before it’s too late. Not only is it dark during the winter, but in heavy snow years there are berms that can make it difficult to see walkers and bikers. Also, some drivers don’t wait for their windshields to fully defrost, so their vision is obstructed.
The typical driver needs 260 feet to stop at 60 mph, but dark blue or black clothes only give them about 55 feet. Red clothes are a little bit better, giving drivers 80 feet, while yellow clothes give 120 feet and white clothes give 180 feet (if you can pick the person out from the snow background). People wearing reflectors can be seen as far away as 500 feet.
This is why many Sitka walkers and bikers wear reflective tape on their clothes or reflective vests, even on short trips such as checking the mail or walking the dog. Click here to learn more about the Alaska Reflector Program. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center’s pedestrian safety program will mail free reflective tape to people who call (907) 929-3939. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center also produced a YouTube video that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.
Don’t forget to put reflective tape on your sleeves, backpack, rain pants, bike helmet and bike frame, not just on the trunk of your jacket. And if you’re biking, don’t forget you are required by state law to have a solid white light on front and red reflector on bike when you are on the road after dark.
The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program is hosting a monthly walk in the park for women. The next walk meets at noon on Jan. 2, inside the visitor’s center at the Sitka National Historical Park.
The free fitness walks take place at noon on the first Wednesday of each month, and they are open to women of all ages and fitness levels. During the walks, women will hike the totem trails at Sitka National Historical Park.
The SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s Health Program is part of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national WISEWOMAN cardiovascular health program for women ages 40-64 (WISEWOMAN is an acronym for Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for WOMen Across the Nation). SEARHC operates the WISEWOMAN grant for Southeast Alaska, and the consortium has combined the WISEWOMAN grant’s focus on heart health with a breast and cervical cancer screening grant and a colorectal cancer grant to create a comprehensive women’s health program.
For more information about the monthly walks in the park and the WISEWOMAN program, contact Barbara Morse at 966-8746. (EDITOR’S NOTE: On Wednesday, Jan. 2, Barbara Morse and Clara Gray of the WISEWOMAN program were guests on the Morning Edition interview show on KCAW-Raven Radio. Click here to here them discuss the walks in the park with host Holly Keen).