San Fernando cathedral in Main Plaza during the 2013 Bike/Beat. Photo by Steven Starnes.
San Fernando cathedral in Main Plaza during the 2013 Bike/Beat. Photo by Steven Starnes.

“I didn’t even see that bike.”

It’s an all too common phrase. Nationally, there are daily news reports of motorists hitting cyclists. So what do we do when we want to promote a cause in San Antonio? We have a festival, of course.

Now in its second annual incarnation, Bike|Beat is a one-day festival held during National Bike Month hosted by the Main Plaza Conservancy. This year it will be held from 3-11 p.m. this Saturday, May 17.

A wide variety of activities are on tap, including live music, vendors, art, bicycle performances, safety classes, and roller races. Food and drink? Naturally. Food trucks will line the streets around Main Plaza, and the Blue Star Brewing Company will have its beer trailer on tap.

This event is the original brainchild of Ashley Quinn, programs manager for the Main Plaza Conservancy. Quinn is an avid rider herself – living and working and downtown can have that effect.

“I wanted to create an event to (increase) bicycle awareness … educating a life on two wheels” she said.

Edward Garcia, founder of SATX Pedal Power, and Ashley Quinn, Main Plaza Conservancy programs manager, teamed up to host Cycle-In Cinema every Thursday night in Main Plaza. Photo courtesy Main Plaza conservancy / Ashley Quinn.
Edward Garcia, founder of SATX Pedal Power, and Ashley Quinn, Main Plaza Conservancy programs manager, teamed up to host Cycle-In Cinema every Thursday night in Main Plaza. Photo courtesy Main Plaza conservancy / Ashley Quinn.

To promote bicycle safety, a number of events promoting awareness and education are scheduled for Saturday (see full list below).

“Some people don’t even know what PSI is,” Quinn said.

If you don’t know either, not to worry, many folks don’t. PSI stands for “pounds per square inch,” and is a measure of tire pressure. Generally, recommended PSI for bike tires is stamped on the tire sidewall.

Courses will be offered in bike safety, handling and maintenance during Bike|Beat. In addition, Recyclove is giving away free helmets for kids 12 and under, while supplies last. Pro tip: helmets usually go pretty quick at events like these.

Art by Recyclove. Courtesy photo.
Art by Recyclove. Courtesy photo.

Bicycle safety education isn’t just for kids either. Many adults seem to lack fundamental bicycle safety skills.

“People aren’t aware of the rules. For example, they can’t ride on sidewalks,” Quinn said.

Only SAPD bicycle officers can do this. Since this is so little-known, motorists get irritated with bicyclists, whom they view as hogging a lane. As a result, sometimes unfortunate events occur. Many motorists also seem to be unaware that they need to leave at least three feet of space when passing a bicyclist to comply with local ordinance. Just the other day, I witnessed a pickup truck driver give mere inches to a bicyclist on South Alamo Street near the Flores intersection.

It’s a daily occurrence and it goes both ways.

I once witnessed two adults riding B-Cycles up North Alamo Street, no helmets, riding side-by-side and taking up the whole lane, with a large truck patiently crawling up their backsides. I was happy the truck driver was so patient; I ultimately caught up with the bicyclists and gave them a quick safety lesson: “Ride in single file!”

Somehow, though, they’re weren’t too appreciative of my efforts. Some folks are inclined to to learn things the hard way, it seems.

Image courtesy The League of American Bicyclists.
Image courtesy The League of American Bicyclists.

The League of American Bicyclists is far more efficient than I when it comes to promoting bicycle safety and awareness. They sponsor National Bike Month, which was originated in 1956.

One of the events they host is the National Bike Challenge, an online competition intended to get people out on their bicycles more often. In 2013, over 30,00 riders logged more than 19 million miles during the Challenge.

If what you’ve read so far doesn’t encourage you to head to Main Plaza on Saturday, here are some other events that are slated to take place:

  • Street performers, hula hoopers, and magicians
  • Photo booth
  • BMX demo by RAD Rides & S.A. Cycles
  • Paintings
  • Bike art and jewelry
  • Giveaways
  • SATX Pedal Power SPINART (kids love this)

The musicians are all from the region – three local acts, as well as two from Austin. Here’s the lineup:

According to Quinn, “You never get to see T-Bird & The Breaks for free.” That in itself sounds like a strong encouragement to get out to the festival and check them out. But there’s more…


There’s also going to be an interesting variety of vendors:

  • A smaller-scale version of FrankenBike, a bicycle and bike parts swap meet
  • Recyclove: handmade art made from recycled bike parts by Jessica Hinojosa
  • Art by Broseph: paintings and prints by Joseph Silvas. The theme? Go Spurs Go!
  • Birty Boyz: custom screen prints, t-shirts, and more
  • Alohamigo: hats and t-shirts by Paul Francis
  • Tiny Roar: connect-the-dot t-shirts, laser cut art, bicycle coasters, tote bags and screen printing
  • Mellow Giant: live screen printing
  • Charli’s Bike Art: paintings by local artist Charli Davenport
  • Wild Dawgs: custom bike frames and parts from a local bicycle club which focuses on giving back to the community
  • Bike|Beat Booth: official Bike|Beat t-shirts, posters and cards

The Main Plaza Conservancy, is a non-profit organization which was formed when the Main Plaza redevelopment was initiated in 2007.

“(Main Plaza) was a grassy knoll with a fountain in the middle and streets on all sides,” Main Plaza Executive Director Jane Pauley-Flores told the Rivard Report during a Something Monday tour of the plaza last fall. “The Conservancy didn’t have an office or phones.”

Former Mayor Phil Hardberger paved the way — literally — for this reactivation of public space. The restoration project closed portions of Main, Main Plaza, Dolorosa and Commerce Streets to create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere in 2008.

Now the space hosts a number of free events at the plaza over the course of the year – in fact, all of their events are free including Cycle-In Cinema, live concerts, a farmer’s market, Picnic on the Plaza, and much more.

Main Plaza has indeed achieved the vision of those who pushed for its renovation. Nowadays, it’s usually a lively place with all sorts of things going on, even when there isn’t a major event. Quinn encourages everyone to come out, especially since the event will be “way bigger than it was last year.”

Quinn also promises some interesting surprises throughout the day. Be sure to check out Bike|Beat this weekend – and be safe.

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Page Graham has been a resident of San Antonio – on and off – for over 30 years now. He has moved into the corporate world, making a living developing training materials and Powerpoint presentations...