SEARHC holds high-visibility jacket drawing to encourage people to be active and bright this fall

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Health Promotion Program is holding a drawing for six high-visibility jackets to encourage Sitka residents to be active and bright this fall.

The drawings for the six high-visibility jackets (similar to the one in the photo above) take place on Monday, Nov. 4. Sitka residents can enter at the Sitka Public Library, Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, Tongass Threads, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, and Blatchley Middle School.

Being safe and seen is critical for anybody walking or biking during the winter, and having a high-visibility jacket with reflective tape on it can help improve your safety while allowing you to stay active. Click this link to read more about the importance of being safe and seen, and how you can order free reflective tape from the Center for Safe Alaskans.

For more information about the high-visibility jacket drawings in Sitka, contact SEARHC health educator Doug Osborne at 966-8674 or douglaso@searhc.org.

Help your kids celebrate International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 2

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. 2, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren safely walk or bike 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, a health educator with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “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, and will have some free reflective tape available starting in October 2019.

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.

City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department to share Lincoln Street project plans at May 22 open house

Option 4A (no u-turn in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral).

Option 2B (keeps u-turn option in front of cathedral).

The City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department has scheduled an open house to discuss construction plans for an upcoming Lincoln Street paving project, from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, in the Chum Room at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The project will re-pave Lincoln from City Hall to the traffic light at Lake Street and Harbor Drive. As required by federal law, CBS will reconstruct all crosswalk ramps within the project limits so that they comply with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. This will result in re-shaped intersections and modified crosswalks. Conceptual drawings will be posted on the CBS project website (https://www.cityofsitka.com/government/departments/publicworks/projects.html) as they become available.

There are two main options around St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral — one (Option 4A) will eliminate the u-turn in front of the cathedral, where there have been car-pedestrian collisions in recent years, and the other (Option 2B) will continue to allow the u-turn in front of the cathedral (see posted drawings).

“The AutoTURN lines on the non-U-Turn option show how a hearse or similar vehicle can access the pedestrian area in front of the cathedral when needed,” city engineer David Longtin wrote in an email. “I highlighted the relative advantages and disadvantages in red.”

This diagram shows how the sidewalks in front of First National Bank of Alaska and the ADA parking will be modified.

The project will also replace corroding storm drain pipes, construct a water main from Lincoln Street to Seward Street via Cathedral Way and provide safety improvements and additional pedestrian space in front of St. Michael’s Cathedral.

The only other traffic changes will be to American and Barracks streets, which will become one-way streets (American up the hill to the north, Barracks down the hill from the south). Longtin said city officials have decided those two streets are too narrow for two-way traffic.

Construction is planned between the last cruise ship of this season (early October) and the first cruise ship of next season (late April). CBS is committed to minimizing impacts to business owners, vehicle traffic and pedestrians while the work is under way.

Please contact CBS Senior Engineer Dave Longtin at 747-1883 or david.longtin@cityofsitka.org with questions about the project.

• Letter from Doug Osborne about his thoughts on the Lincoln Street upgrade

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.

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.

Sitka Community Hospital, SEARHC to host Sitka Winter Clean Commute Challenge in February

Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), in collaboration with the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, Walk Sitka, and Sitka Health Summit, will host the Sitka Winter Clean Commute Challenge during the month of February.

This event is a walking and/or bicycling commuting challenge where Sitkans can record and report their mileages while reducing carbon emissions, improving their health, and possibly winning prizes. This event starts on Feb. 1 and ends on Feb. 28. There will be a kick-off meeting from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Sitka Public Library.

“Leave gas-powered vehicles behind with Sitka’s winter bike and walk challenge in February to help the planet, your health, and your wallet,” SEARHC Health Educator Holly Marban said. “Help us achieve our goal of keeping 500 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in February. Just send us the number of miles you biked or walked instead of using a gas-powered car, and we’ll calculate how many pounds of carbon dioxide you helped to keep out of the atmosphere.”

“One of the many great things about Sitka is that compact and with the right gear and safety practices people can walk or bike year around,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion. “I’m excited to be part of this effort that really supports the Sitka Health Summit’s new CO2 reducers action group that formed this fall to reduce the main greenhouse gas that’s driving climate change.”

To participate, take at least one trip on foot or by bike in February, then log the miles you walked or biked in place of vehicle use. Every Friday in February, email the miles you logged that week to sitkacleancommute@gmail.com, and you will be entered to win awesome prizes, such as reflective gear, waterproof bags, and ice cleats. The first 20 people to send in miles walked or biked will receive a free reflective wrist band.

Remember to be safe and visible on your commute. Always wear reflective gear in low lighting, a helmet when biking, and ice cleats when walking in slippery conditions. Participants will be able to record their bike rides for International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 9 (there also is a bike to school division), or the kids can record their walks on Winter Walk Day on Wednesday, Feb. 7  (note, this is an event from Canada, but we get similar weather so why not).

Questions can be directed to sitkacleancommute@gmail.com, hmarban@searhc.org, or dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

• Winter Clean Commute Challenge carbon equivalents for distances walked or biked

Sitka Community Hospital launches Safe and Seen in Sitka campaign with high-visibility jacket raffles

Getting around Sitka on foot or bike is good for the environment and your health. It is important to make sure it’s done safely, especially while traveling at night.

Walkers — people who travel by foot, wheelchair or stroller — and bicyclists are among the most vulnerable users of our roads. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the next 24 hours, on average, 445 people in the U.S. will be treated in an emergency department for traffic-related pedestrian injuries.

Sitka can be dark, especially in the winter months, and many of the bicyclist and walker fatalities happen in low visibility. Drivers can only stop or swerve for the people they see. Lights, reflectors and high-visibility coats offer a level of protection.

Thanks to Grundens and Murray Pacific, Sitka Community Hospital will be raffling off high-visibility rain coats at various locations throughout Sitka. These raffles will take place at Sitka Public Library, Hames Center, Salvation Army Little Store, Tongass Threads, Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services, Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, Swan Lake Senior Center, Sitka Public Health Center, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Blatchley Middle School and Sitka Community Hospital’s Oceanside Therapy Center.  The drawings will start as early as Oct. 30 and are open to all.

Having a coat that covers you and can be seen from all sides is a great way to stay safe and seen. For more information on the Safe and Seen in Sitka campaign, contact Sitka Community Hospital’s Director of Health Promotion Doug Osborne at 747-0373.