Terry Bellamy, assistant director of the City's Transportation and Capital Improvements
A crowd gathers – including (From front right) Councilmember Rebecca Viagran (D3), SA2020 Interim President and CEO Molly Cox, and Terry Bellamy, assistant director of the City's Transportation and Capital Improvements department – to take the Síclovía Safety Pledge. Photo by Robert Rivard.

The 8th edition of San Antonio’s Síclovía is heading to Southtown come Sunday, March 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The later than usual start will allow Palm Sunday worshipers to attend services and still join the 50,000 other cyclists, pedestrians, pet walkers, skateboarders and random others who will gather outdoors for the one-day street festival that features just about everything except cars and trucks.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

“We’re heading back to Southtown!” Lisa Ramirez, YMCA’s vice president for strategic partnerships and program innovation, declared Tuesday morning at the kick-off press conference held at the Tripoint YMCA. “This time we will start at South Alamo and South Saint Mary’s Street and finish at Mission Concepción.

H-E-B again is the presenting sponsor, and is expected to once again offer health cooking demos, nutrition consultations with registered dietitians on scene, and other wellness initiatives. Humana is the platinum sponsor and also will have a team on hand for wellness consultations.

Among the other Reclovía attractions along the way will be bike maintenance and safety stops where adults and children can take a class and earn a free bike helmet.

The big change for Síclovía VIII is the Safety Pledge, an outgrowth of growing concerns about mishaps along the route that have occurred at past events. The Rivard Report appreciates the acknowledgment offered Tuesday of our efforts to highlight the need for better safety along the route and better enforcement of share the road rules. Speeding cyclists, unsupervised children and loose pets have contributed to some unnecessary collisions and minor injuries that organizers are determined to eliminate from this and future Síclovías.

(Read more: Síclovía 7 Turns East to Dignowity Hill.)

Click image to take the Síclovía Safety Pledge.
Click image to take the Síclovía Safety Pledge.

Organizers are asking all of the expected 50,000 participants to take the pledge online before March 29, and to take note of the safety volunteers in bright orange t-shirts working along the route. Bike World is offering a little motivation, too, in the way of a beautiful Trek X-Caliber 6 mountain bike with front shocks and disc brakes with a retail value of $918 that will be given away.  Click on the above Safety Pledge image, take the pledge, and your name will be entered into the drawing.

Terry Bellamy, assistant director of the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements department, was on hand to underscore the City’s commitment to making San Antonio’s streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

“Síclovía is encouraging people to get outside and get healthy,” Bellamy said, noting that a key element of SA Tomorrow, the City’s long-term transportation plan, is safer streets for people who are not driving vehicles. “Being the seventh largest city in the country, we think we should become the number one city in the country with zero fatalities.”

San Antonio Assistant Police Chief Jose Bañales put it another way: “Síclovía is not a race and you shouldn’t try to make it one.”

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Ba?ales said vehicle drivers in San Antonio need to become more accommodating of cyclists and pedestrians, and everyone needs to start obey traffic signals, drivers, riders and jaywalkers.

“Each year we see too many lives lost as a result of someone failing to comply with the law,” Chief Bañales said. “We want to remind everyone that there’s enough room on the road to go around.”

An estimated 50 cyclists and pedestrians were killed in accidents involving motorized vehicles in 2014, according to SAPD figures.

As always, the emphasis will be on health and wellness, outdoor recreation, and community building.

“We are so proud of how far we have come,” said YMCA of Greater San Antonio CEO Sandy Morander. “We know from surveys that 37% of participants had not been physically active before participating in a Síclovía, and 56% say it is spurring continuing physical activity. Many also say it was their introduction to Southtown and without Síclovía they would have never learned about the great restaurants and other places to come experience down there.”

The 2.5 mile Southtown route crosses three City council districts, and two of the council members were on hand to take the Safety Pledge and speak.

“This event brings out thousands and thousands of people to play in the streets,” Councilmember Rebecca Viagran (D3) told the audience. “In District 3, all roads lead to Mission Concepción.”

“As a policymaker I’m so excited to hear that one of the things we are working on specifically, is zero pedestrian fatalities. Vision Zero Initiative is a concept that is sweeping the nation,” Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) said of the national movement to reduce urban cyclist and pedestrian fatalities to zero. “San Antonio should be at the forefront of that.”

Kevin Barton, a Texas A&M University-San Antonio faculty member, avid cyclist, and husband of Gonzales, has reported on the initiative for the Rivard Report. (See: Vision Zero Through Comprehensive Planning.)

As the event came to a conclusion, Viagran and Gonzales made their way to nearby laptops to be the first to take their pledge online.

*Featured/top image: A crowd gathers to take the Síclovía Safety Pledge – including (from front right). Councilmember Rebecca Viagran (D3), SA2020 Interim President and CEO Molly Cox, and Terry Bellamy, assistant director of the City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements department. Photo by Robert Rivard.

This story was originally published on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.