New wayfinding signs find their way onto Sitka streets and alleys

The new wayfinding kiosk near the tour bus stop on the side of Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Kiosk looking toward Crescent HarborOver the last couple of weeks, Sitka residents and visitors have seen 41 new wayfinding signs pop up on Sitka streets, as well as a new information kiosk just outside Harrigan Centennial Hall. These are part of a lengthy project by Visit Sitka, the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce, and the City and Borough of Sitka to update the wayfinding signs in Sitka.

The new signs use estimated walking times instead of distances to show how far away key landmarks are (using about 10 minutes to represent a half-mile, or slightly less than a kilometer). The use of times instead of distances not only encourages walking, but it also is less confusing to foreign tourists used to the metric system. The designs also include Tlingít formline elements, to honor our local Alaska Native culture.

“The Sitka Wayfinding System was installed in September 2018 (and into October),” said Rachel Roy, executive director of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and Visit Sitka. “This comprehensive and unified directional sign system was customized for our community. Funded with the Commercial Passenger Excise Tax (CPET, or cruise tax) funds, the City of Sitka and a planning committee of tourism industry representatives worked with Great Destinations Strategies to develop a new brand identity for Sitka, and Axia Creative for the sign design and locations.”

A new wayfinding sign in front of Wells Fargo bank, at the corner of Lincoln and Maksoutoff streets, with an old wayfinding sign above.

The project cost just over $300,000 between the branding design and sign costs, Roy said. The branding project started in 2013, and the wayfinding project launched in 2015, with several delays. But the origins of the project can be found all the way back in 1996 in the Gateway tourism plan. The new wayfinding signs will replace the blue signs around town that were installed in 2015 and meant to only be temporary for a year or two.

“The Sitka Wayfinding System serves as a welcome and orientation for visitors, provides a unified image that reflects our community’s character and history, provides a sense of place, a ‘seamless’ experience and a guide to Sitka’s major attractions,” Roy said. “The signs offer visitors access to VisitSitka.org, Sitka’s official visitor website and encourages use of #visitsitka on social media. We are proud to see the signs being used by visitors throughout the community and this further development of our community’s visitor industry infrastructure.”

According to a map sent by City and Borough of Sitka project manager Kelli Cropper, there were 41 wayfinding signs and the one kiosk installed as part of this phase of the project. The majority of the wayfinding signs are on Lincoln Street, but there are a few off Sawmill Creek Road and one on Kaagwaantaan and Barracks streets, plus a few along the Sitka Sea Walk toward the Sitka National Historical Park.

A map showing the locations of the 41 wayfinding signs and new kiosk.

Cropper said there are options to purchase two more kiosks at later dates, with one going underneath the O’Connell Bridge by the lightering dock after the second phase of the Sitka Sea Walk is completed and the other possibly going up on Lincoln Street after that street is upgraded in the next year or two. At this time there are no wayfinding signs on Katlian Street, and any there would have to come during a future phase of the project.

A slideshow showing some of the new wayfinding signs and both sides of the kiosk is posted below.

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SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 25

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Herring Cove Trail trailhead.

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Joel Hanson at 747-6859 or email him at jhanson@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for October 2018

Sitka Community Hospital launches Be Safe and Seen campaign

Getting around Sitka on foot or on a bike is good for your health, and it’s good for the environment. However it’s important that these activities are done safely.

Sitka can be dark, especially in winter, and many bicycle and walker injuries happen in low visibility. Drivers can only stop or swerve for the people they see, so having lights, reflectors and high-visibility coats provides a great protective factor.  Thanks to donations from LFS Marine Supply and Grunden’s, a dozen high-visibility jackets will be raffled at various locations throughout Sitka:

  • Sitka Community Hospital’s Oceanside Therapy Center,
  • Tongass Threads,
  • the Sitka Public Library,
  • the Hames Center,
  • Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services Office,
  • Swan Lake Senior Center,
  • Salvation Army Little Store,
  • Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop,
  • Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School (2), and
  • Blatchley Middle School (2).

Having a coat that covers your whole upper body and can be seen from all sides is one way to be visible and stay seen as you walk the family dog, bike home from work, or go for a stroll anywhere near cars.

For more information on the “Be Safe and Seen in Sitka” campaign, contact Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital’s Director of Health Promotion, at 747-0373.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 17

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Heart Lake Trail trailhead.

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Joel Hanson at 747-6859 or email him at jhanson@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for October 2018

Help your kids celebrate International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 10

walk-to-school-1

WalkToSchoolDay_HomepageMapNot too long ago, most of us walked or biked to school. But now, most kids arrive at school via their parents’ cars or school buses. Wednesday, Oct. 10, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren walk to school on this day.

In 1970, more than half of all elementary school students ages 6-11 walked to school. By 2006, only 15 percent were walking to school. Alarmed by this trend, a group called the Partnership for a Walkable America started National Walk To School Day in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. In addition to expanding into several other countries, the dates also have expanded and October is International Walk To School Month.

“Walking or biking to school is an excellent way to add some physical activity into your day,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion. “It can be a great way to start the day. Walking or biking can be a lot of fun. It’s also important to remember to be safe.”

WBTSD_12inch_ColorWalking or biking to school with their children is a good way for parents to catch up on what’s happening in their children’s lives. Other benefits to walking or biking to school include less traffic, cleaner air, and friendlier communities. Walking with their children is a good way for parents see if there are things along the route that can be done to improve safety, such as improving lighting, checking crosswalks and watching for aggressive pets along the route.

International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day is a great teaching tool for safety. Parents and teachers can teach the kids about road safety rules and the importance of being visible when they walk or bike alongside the roads. They also can check their kids’ clothes and backpacks to make sure they have reflective tape on them.

Why wearing white is not enough.

Reflective tape is particularly important as we enter the dark months of the winter. Students need to Be Safe, Be Seen, and reflective tape can make a big difference in their visibility. Not only are kids sometimes hard to be seen because they’re blocked by cars, but many cars in Southeast Alaska experience condensation problems during the fall and winter that make it hard to see through windshields. Reflective tape and blinking lights can make it so kids are seen hundreds of feet before they would be if they wore plain dark clothes. Parents can buy reflective tape from local sporting goods, fabric, and similar stores. Sometimes it’s available from local health organizations. The Center for Safe Alaskans (formerly known as the Alaska Injury Prevention Center) produced a YouTube video (also embedded below) that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.

To learn more about International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, contact your local school to see if any events are scheduled, or check with the Alaska Safe Routes To School program. The official International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day website also has a lot of information about how to set up an event for your school, including tool kits to help you arrange an event. Even if your kids don’t walk the entire way to school, you can drop them off a mile or so away and walk in with them. Many parents create walking school buses to bring several students who live in the same area to school together in one group.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 11

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Mosquito Cove Trail trailhead.

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Joel Hanson at 747-6859 or email him at jhanson@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for October 2018

Sitka to host suicide prevention walk across O’Connell Bridge on Saturday, Oct. 6

Join us at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, at Crescent Harbor Shelter for a walk across the O’Connell Bridge to the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus to raise awareness for suicide prevention. Snacks, a craft project and information about suicide prevention will be available.

We request that you wear purple as a way to symbolize our unity in the fight against suicide. This event is open and welcome to all.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information about the walk, contact Kathy Ingallinera at 738-2393.