Sitka named 'walk friendly' community

SITKA — A Southeast Alaska community has been named one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in America.

Sitka won the designation from the University of North Carolina’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. The center created the “walk friendly” award in 2010, to shine a light on places making walking a lifestyle.

Participants in a 2012 Sitka health summit decided to apply for the designation to see how the city stacked up, from a pedestrian’s perspective, KCAW reported.

Sitka received a report card that praised the percentage of residents who walk to work, which the Census Bureau put at more than 11 percent. The report card also noted Sitka’s extensive trail system, slow downtown speed limits and low number of pedestrians involved in traffic accidents.

It’s not easy to compare Sitka with other communities. The city receives about 86 inches of rain a year and almost half its incorporated area is under water.

“Most communities, you’re talking a 30 or 40 square mile area,” said Charles Bingham, who leads Walk Sitka, the group that applied for the designation on the city’s behalf. “With us, we had to call in and say the city and borough of Sitka is 4,000 square miles”.

Forty-four U.S. cities have been deemed “walk friendly;” Sitka is the first in Alaska. Juneau was listed as earning an honorable mention.

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