Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

What's cost of being a bike-friendly town?


About 40 residents turned out March 2 and raised questions about a “bicycle-friendly community” designation pursued by members of the Haines Borough Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.

Dustin Craney, general manager of Sockeye Cycle, gave a presentation on the designation. Craney said an application for the designation would include a local audit of existing bicycle infrastructure – including verbiage from the comprehensive plan – that would go to the League of American Bicyclists for review.

Craney said he would gather information for the audit, which would not require public funds, other than an hour or so of borough employee time answering questions or providing information.

Craney said benefits of the effort include encouraging bicycling, reducing traffic congestion and improving health.

The national organization would provide ideas on what could be done here, grant opportunities and best practices, Craney said.

Participation in the program would not obligate the borough to spend money, he said. “They would make recommendations to us. If we decide to follow their recommendations, that may cost money.”

The application is free.

After Don Turner Jr. asserted bike shop owner Thom Ely’s participation in the discussion was a conflict of interest, Ely voluntarily recused himself from the discussion. Ely is a member of the committee.

Committee chair Rich Chapell said the main concern of many who turned out was “that this would this require building expensive infrastructure,” and maintenance would be required. Another concern included whether police would need additional training to issue tickets to bike riders, he said.

The committee voted to hold a teleconference with residents of Sitka who secured the designation in that community. Questions to be asked include costs and benefits.

Chapell said he sees a need for bicycle infrastructure improvements, such as a wider shoulder on Small Tracts Road. “I think a lot of people would benefit from that,” he said.

The committee will next meet April 3, when it will elect officers, Chapell said.

In an interview, Ely said it was his understanding that holding the “bicycle-friendly” designation requires a designated coordinator, who serves as a liaison between bicyclists and the local government. That position can be a volunteer one, he said.


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