PUBLISHED: 5:28 PM on Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Alaska observes bike to work month
JUNEAU - Of the nation's 50 states, Alaska ranks 12th in the proportion of adults who choose to bicycle to work as their primary means of transportation, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, while Sitka has become the first community in Alaska to be designated a "Bike Friendly Community" by the League of American Bicyclists.

Governor Sarah Palin recently signed a proclamation encouraging Alaskans to use a bike for transportation during May, to recognize the importance of bicycle safety and to be more aware of cyclists on our streets and highways.

"The bicycle is a viable and environmentally sound form of transportation, as well an excellent source of recreation and physical activity," Palin said.

For the past 52 years, the national nonprofit League of American Bicyclists has declared the month of May as National Bike Month and has done so again for this year. National Bike to Work Day is May 16. Since the League began its Bicycle Friendly Community program in 2003, only 84 communities have won recognition out of 212 that applied.

"I know the residents of Sitka have worked really hard over the past year to get the national Bike Friendly Community recognition," said Palin. "It shows that Alaskans with true spirit can make their communities better places to live and work."

"I hope that Alaskans will take this opportunity to experience the joys of bicycling to work, not only on Bike to Work Day, but throughout the summer as well," said Palin. "It's affordable, environmentally friendly and promotes a healthy lifestyle."

Robert Laurie is the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities' Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator.

"Spring break-up means the snow is off the ground and with gas prices approaching $4 dollars a gallon in our major cities, there's no better time to pull your bicycle out, pump up the tires, check the chain and the brakes, and ride to work, to school or the store," said Laurie. "There are many bicycling events scheduled in communities across the state to help you get back on your bike."

Juneau has a full schedule of events planned, including a citywide kickoff to Bike Month that began May 1, a "10,000-mile Capital Challenge" encouraging the 31,000 residents of Juneau to record their miles on the Juneau Freewheelers website during Bike Week, which is May 10-16, a number of media appearances by local bicyclists promoting bicycling and Bike to Work and School participation in particular, as well as specific Bike to Work & School Day rides from various neighborhoods in town. More information is available at the Juneau Freewheelers website .

Anchorage has a number of events in the works, including bike maintenance clinics, sessions on how to prepare to bike to work, rallies, and a challenge event among local businesses and organizations to promote their celebration of Bike to Work day on Thursday, May 15. Find more on the Municipality of Anchorage website at: .

Sitka has events planned through May, including displays at the library, safe bicycling classes, bike commuting seminars, bike rodeos, a blessing of a new downtown bike rack, family rides and, of course, Bike to Work day events.