WE NEED YOUR HELP CONNECTING ANCHORAGE TO THE BIRD-TO-GIRD TRAIL
Commenters like YOU needed!
CONNECTING ANCHORAGE TO THE BIRD-TO-GIRD TRAIL
Last summer (July 2020), Bike Anchorage commented on a planned Alaska DOT project to upgrade the Seward Highway at Windy Corner (MP105-107). At that time, DOT’s plans did not include the construction of a separated path along the highway, even though the stated intent was to build a path there at some point in the future. Despite the extensive planned work to widen the highway, blast rock from large sections of the cliff, build a large new parking area, and move the railroad, the additional work to construct the path was not deemed worthwhile.
A major project update: “Windy Corner to Rainbow Point (MP105-109.5)”
But now there’s some good news! Following extensive community feedback, DOT has updated the project to include “potentially constructing” a path in this corridor. This is especially good news because the updated project has been extended by 2 miles and will now cover the stretch between the Falls Creek Trailhead and Rainbow Trailhead.
Project map from http://www.windycorner.info/
Building a separated pathway makes even more sense now that the project is longer (4.5 miles), and would also provide an option to travel between the two trailheads without getting back in your car. Improving safety is a major stated goal of this project, and including the separated pathway is crucial to realize that goal.
Building the path on this section is also the next essential step toward connecting Anchorage to the popular Bird to Gird Trail. This project spans 4 miles of the remaining 12-mile gap from Potter Marsh (Old Seward Hwy) to Indian, where the separated pathway currently starts. We would love to have the option of biking all the way from home to Girdwood without ever having to get on the highway shoulder!
The Bird to Gird Trail is a safe, quiet, and scenic route that is much more welcoming than the highway shoulder. (photo at project site) The Alaska DOT Maintenance budget cannot afford to pay for highway cleaning. No matter the width of constricted shoulders, they'll become 2-foot or less of usable shoulder due to highway debris.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
DOT has opened a new period for public comment on this updated project. Please submit a written comment any time before July 15th. Comments can be sent to:
Tom Schmid, P.E. - Project Manager
DOT&PF Central Region Preliminary Design & Environmental
P.O. Box 196900
Anchorage, AK 99519-6900
Email: [email protected]
A written comment does not need to be long or detailed - you can simply state that you are in favor of constructing a separated path along the highway corridor with the Windy to Rainbow project. Bike Anchorage will be preparing a detailed letter after the open house, and we’ll make it publicly available before the July 15th deadline in case you’d like to get some ideas for your own comment.
See you on the trails!
Bike Anchorage is excited to offer Smart Cycling for anyone in the community (ages 16+) that are looking to improve their bicycle skills. The class will take place on Monday 6/21 and Wednesday 6/23 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.
Monday's class will be held virtually and will cover topics like bike fit, maintenance, and rules of the road. Wednesday will be an outdoor in-person and on-bike session where we will practice bike skills and on-street riding (the specific location is still to be defined).
All attendees will need a working bicycle and a helmet to participate, if you don't have a helmet, we can provide one if you need it.
The cost for this two-day class is $20 and it includes printed educational materials. If cost is a barrier, we ask you to email [email protected] for scholarship information. All proceeds will benefit Bike Anchorage.
How to know if this course it's for you?
The Smart Cycling Class is a curriculum created by The League of American Bicyclists and can only be taught by certified League Cycling Instructors. This curriculum is designed to develop the confidence and competence of a bicycle rider. Students will learn about choosing a bicycle, basic parts of a bike, essential equipment, as well as how to safely and comfortably ride your bike in various traffic conditions, terrain and climates.
Here at Bike Anchorage, we love bike infrastructure. Although we strongly recognize that Anchorage must modernize and move towards all-ability bike ways networks, we are glad when the Muni or DOT builds bike paths or bike lanes on Anchorage roads. But once any infrastructure is built, it needs to be maintained in order to be usable. A major problem this spring has been the large amounts of gravel remaining on bike routes long past the time the snow has melted. When a path, shoulder, or bike lane is full of gravel, people on bikes must either ride through the gravel - running the risk of encountering unpredictably deep piles or picking up debris that can cause tire punctures - or ride directly in the lane used by motorized traffic, where cars have already cleared the gravel out of the lane. Either choice is unnecessarily dangerous.
The arterial roads maintained by the Municipality were all swept by May 15th - hooray! Unfortunately, some arterial roads (and their adjacent separated paths) maintained by DOT have remained unswept long past their May 15th deadline. This has included roads like Raspberry Rd that have marked bike lanes and are major bike corridors. On May 18th, we asked DOT when Raspberry Rd would be swept, but they didn’t have any information about when their contractor would clear that road.
In this video, we checked out the gravel remaining on the Raspberry Rd bike lanes on May 25th and put ourselves to work in sweeping some of the most dangerous areas.
How you can help:
Whether you're a person who drives, rolls, or both, we are urging community members interested in equitable transportation policy to call or email our Anchorage Maintenance and Operation District Superintendent:
[email protected] (907) 338-1466. Tell DOT to SweepMyRide and prioritize bike routes for spring sweeping to improve safety for all road users.
Bike Month is almost over, but before that happens we want to invite you to participate in our Scavenger Hunt. This time we are trying to make it a -Choose your own adventure- type of scavenger hunt, which means that you have a lot of checkpoint options from which to plan your route.
You can plan your route and do it as long or short as you want, you can visit the checkpoints close to your neighborhood, or take this opportunity to bike across the city, ride the multi-use trails, streets, stick to Single Track Trails only or mix it up, it's all up to you. Why have we decided to do it this way? Because we want to make sure our activity is accessible to all types of bicycle riders.
We have nine NiteRider Lumina Micro of 750 lumens front lights to give away. Everyone who participates will be entered into a raffle and we'll draft 9 names who will be the winners of the lights.
How can you submit your entry?
1. Download the checkpoint list, and add the photos of the checkpoints you visit.
2. Send the checkpoint list to [email protected]
On Tuesday, June 1st we will announce the winners, you get an extra entry if you share a picture of your adventure and tag us on Instagram.
You can check the Treat stations map here, the map is updated constantly because treat stations registration is still open.
We recommend you take a look at it on the night before the event to make sure you have the most updated information.
The blue pins are morning stations (11AM to 1PM), and the orange represent evening stations (4 to 6 PM). Zoom in and out or click on the pin to read more information on each station.
During the campaign, the Bike Anchorage Advocacy Committee sent out 5 questions to all candidates in order to directly communicate their positions and plans regarding key bikeability and urban space issues that Anchorage is facing. Our next mayor will be tasked with critical decisions and with setting the tone that shapes the safety, attractiveness, and economic robustness of our city. Biking and walkability have proven time and time again to be a pillar of a modern city's ability to thrive and be a pleasant place to live.
Bike Anchorage is Anchorage's largest bike advocacy group and our committee works to bring greater representation to the rolling community. After several inquiries we obtained the following results:
Forrest Dunbar - Responded
Dave Bronson - Did not Respond
Runoff ballots have been sent out by mail and are due MAY 11th, so get out and Bike the Vote!
Here are our 5 questions and candidate's responses:
1. What is your vision for making Anchorage a safer, more livable city when it comes to multi-modal transportation, including for pedestrians, people on bikes, buses, and cars?
Dunbar: Anchorage can be a vibrant city that attracts and retains a trained and talented workforce with world-class outdoor recreation opportunities and walkable, bikeable neighborhoods where our cultural diversity is on full display, where child care is accessible and high-quality, and housing is affordable. Our transportation system is very much at the center of that vision, and we need to continue making investments that support multi-modal transport. During my time on the board of the Anchorage Park Foundation, I have supported their vision of improved trail connectivity, as well as creating a sense of Indigenous Place on our trails and promoting Inclusive Play in our parks. These aren’t just the morally right calls—they are the economically smart decisions too, as they both attract more visitors and improve a quality of life that makes our Municipality competitive in a world where people can increasingly work from anywhere. In addition, I have supported funding for our public transportation system while on the Assembly and will continue to do so as mayor. I will always look for opportunities, working with groups like Bike Anchorage, to build our city around people, not just the cars that they drive.
2. More specifically, how would you enhance the safety and convenience of biking within our urban cores and residential spaces while taking steps to make Anchorage transportation meet its goal of zero roadway deaths?
Dunbar: We need a connected, well-marked trail system so pedestrians and cyclists aren’t forced into roadways—but insofar as that overlap is inevitable, we need to slow the speeds on certain streets (by working with the State), improve lighting and traffic calming measures, and install protected bike lanes where possible. In downtown, my Administration will partner with adjoining businesses to close certain streets and create pedestrian promenades and will work with the State DOT to find alternatives routes for the highway/truck route that currently runs through the heart of downtown. Slowing traffic not only saves lives, but it is better for the environment and the economy. In residential spaces, there are creative ways to slow drivers down the use of different paving stones, well-marked and raised crossings, miniature roundabouts like those installed in the Russian Jack area, “lane diets,” and additional trees adds an atmosphere that slows people down in ways that also improve our neighborhood character and liveability.
3. The Anchorage Non-Motorized Plan is near adoption and highlights areas most needing walking and biking improvements. Should Anchorage adopt this plan, and if so, how will you ensure that the plan’s guidance and vision are incorporated into transportation projects
Dunbar: Yes, I support the adoption of the Anchorage Non-Motorized plan and am grateful to the Community Advisory Committee, constituents, and others who have made its final public comment period accessible and meaningful even as we have moved operations online. To incorporate its vision and ensure community time is used wisely, I will work with AMATS to make sure each new project that is brought forward is evaluated and built using the plan as a guide. If we analyze each project at Step 1 with these guidelines and continue those reflections over the long life of implementation we can maximize the Non-Motorized Plan’s impact.
4. Cities across the nation have shifted their transportation policies to follow guidance from The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). What are your thoughts on Anchorage becoming a NACTO Member City and incorporating their street design guides into our urban spaces?
Dunbar: Anchorage is eligible to be an Affiliate City with NACTO, and I plan to work with AMATS to make that happen. Anchorage benefits from our other knowledge-sharing partnerships, like the National League of Cities, and it’s one way that we’ve been able to bring new, innovative ideas to our Municipality, gain access to grant funds to support community projects, and discuss the challenges of cities our size. A partnership with NACTO would allow us access to further resources and new city partners to give us tools to adapt our transportation system to make it safer and more accessible through design
5. Besides providing safety and accommodation for people on bikes, in your opinion what are three other benefits that Anchorage might see if we made our city less car-dependent?
Dunbar: First, an increase in shopping and economic activity: shifting people from cars to bikes and other methods of transportation helps get them into restaurants and stores, which will be even more important as we work to recover from the pandemic. By investing in mixed-use development, we also ensure a base for businesses as clientele live immediately above or in the area, and can frequent their establishment without the use of a car. This goes hand in hand with my second reason: the Visitor Industry. Right now, visitors often need to rent a car or have a local friend with a car to reach much of our Municipality. If we make our public transportation, city centers, and trails more accessible, it opens our city up to additional travelers who prefer bikes and other non-car means of travel. It will also encourage people to see Anchorage as a destination, worthy of staying that crucial extra night, rather than simply a jumping-off point to other parts of Alaska. Finally, reducing our reliance on cars improves our quality of life and public health. Our trail system has proven to be a terrific, low-cost way for residents to exercise and gain peace of mind, especially during last year’s pandemic-dominated summer. We need to ensure trails and another bike/pedestrian facilities are accessible to all our neighborhoods and recognize the public health benefit of getting people out of their cars, from air quality to climate change to physical fitness.
Bike Anchorage would once again like to thank the responding candidates for sharing their positions and plans. We look forward to working with Anchorage's next mayor to ensure a strong relationship and representation of our members who share in the vision of a much more healthy, vibrant, and bikeable Anchorage.