April 7, 2011 |

Bicycle group to roll out goals, moniker

About two dozen residents turned out March 30 for discussion of bicycling needs in the community.

Bike rider Norman Hughes said political advocacy, infrastructure improvements and bicyclist education were among topics discussed. Borough manager Mark Earnest, a former bike racer, facilitated the meeting and assemblyman Daymond Hoffman and school superintendent Michael Byer were in attendance.

"It’s time for Haines to step up and make the town more bike friendly," Hughes said.

Those who turned out were organized into three committees – road riders, bicycle commuters, and mountain bike riders – who were to return in two weeks with suggestions on goals and a proposed name for the new group. The group meets next 6:30 p.m. April 20 at the assembly chambers.

Bike-friendly improvements discussed at the meeting include sweeping shoulders of gravel and lowering the speed limit along Lutak Road to the ferry terminal. "We have parents who don’t want to take their kids on Lutak Road because they’re afraid someone will speed by at 55 miles per hour and suck their kid in," Hughes said.

Those improvements are where the political advocacy would come in, he said. "Without leadership from our elected representatives, we’re not going to go very far."

The group also may advocate more bike racks or a "bike port" downtown so bikes aren’t taking up room on sidewalks or cluttering the fronts of businesses.

Bicycling reduces car traffic, promotes health and encourages social interaction, Hughes said. More riders would make riding here safer, he said. "My feeling is if there are more people on bikes, people will be looking for them and there will be less bad interactions between bicyclists and motorists."

At the same time, bicyclists need to be educated about obeying the rules of the road, such as stopping at stop signs, he said.

Other possible goals for the group are sponsoring a local bike race, promoting Haines as a bicycling destination and receiving formal recognition as a "bike-friendly" community.

Heather Lende, a longtime road rider, said she was encouraged that the town’s leadership grasps the importance of roads to users besides motorists. "Haines is a world-class destination for road riding. We’ve known that for years. That’s why people come here for the (Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay)."

Assemblyman Hoffman cited groups recently formed for skiing, bicycling and hockey and said he’d like to see recreation addressed as part of the borough’s comprehensive plan.

"I’m interested in recreation in general. Anything I can do to make it happen, that’s what I want to see happen," Hoffman said.

To get on the group’s list, contact Mark Earnest, 766-3017.