This article was originally written for The Spenardian.
Spenard is a hub for biking culture. There are a plethora of cycle shops that have settled into the neighborhood, including The Bicycle Shop, Speedway Cycles and Fatback Bikes, but more continue to flock to the area.
Many residents who live in the neighborhood live close to good food and local businesses, which makes traveling on two wheels oftentimes a healthier and more eco-friendly alternative to driving a car.
Cary Shiflea is the owner of Alaska eBike, an electric bike shop in Spenard. The business used to be located in Midtown before relocating to Spenard. He saw the Spenard Road project as a great reason to move into the neighborhood.
“From the very start, I wanted to put my business, Alaska eBike, in Spenard,” Shiflea said. “It seems like the community really understands that you can get a lot done by walking or biking rather than getting in your car.”
Other bike shops in the neighborhood have been really welcoming, Shiflea says.
“Anchorage overall is just, the community that comes together… Once you’ve [ridden] a bike once on the trails, you’re sort of a member of that community,” Shiflea said.
Lindsey Hajduk has been involved with Bike Anchorage, the city’s largest bicycle advocacy organization, for five years as a volunteer and treasurer. As a resident of Spenard herself, she believes that bike culture has really bloomed the last several years, especially with winter riding.
Hajduk says the need for safer streets has increased over time. It’s been a primary focus of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and his administration to work towards reducing all major injuries and deaths in traffic collisions and fatalities.
In 2016, the mayor launched Vision Zero, an Anchorage initiative to eliminating traffic deaths for all road users. The initiative added improvements, including the Spenard Road project. The plan looks at designing roads for everyone, including pedestrians, people who ride the bus, and those who travel on bikes or in cars.
A lot of the work Hajduk does with Bike Anchorage is connecting with businesses in town to support a more bikeable city.
“People identify as bike commuters, so it isn’t just that people bike a lot for exercise or for recreation, but that they also bike because they want to be able to get to Bear Tooth on their bikes, or they want to be safe along the roadways because we’re such a connected community,” Hajduk said.