Sicovia, Sept. 29, 2013. Photo by Steven Starnes.
Car-free Broadway Street for Sicovia, Sept. 29, 2013. Photo by Steven Starnes.
Robert Rivard

The perfect Síclovía family approached me as I was docking my B-Cycle at the Pearl.

Early rains had given way to a cool, cloudy morning spent slow-pedaling Broadway Street, enjoying the company of friends, getting my BMI measured at the Humana tent, and watching dance moves I could only envy in the Alamo Plaza as a pop-up mob kept the beat and followed an instructor from the D.R. Semmes Family YMCA at Tripoint.

A flash workout mob begins in Alamo Plaza led by an instructor from the YMCA. Photo by Kay Richter.
A workout begins in Alamo Plaza led by an instructor from the TriPoint YMCA. Photo by Kay Richter.

So there they were at the fifth biannual Síclovía: Mom and Dad on mountain bikes, a young girl on a flashy pink bike with training wheels, and behind Dad, a toddler in a rolling tent. There must be a name for those mobile playpens.

“We just wanted to say thanks for all you do for San Antonio,” Dad said. “You’re really making a difference.”

Flattering words, I had to admit, a bit surprised that he recognized me as the face of the young Rivard Report.

The author on a B-Cycle sporting a Local Coffee logo near the Alamo Plaza. Photo by Cindi Snell.
The author on a B-Cycle sporting a Local Coffee logo near the Alamo Plaza. Photo by Cindi Snell.

Then Mom chimed in: “Can anyone buy one of those B-Cycle caps or do just employees get to wear them?”

I remembered the bike cap I was wearing, and realized the young couple thought I worked at B-Cycle. Let that be a lesson, I told my humbled self.

B-cycle is making a difference. Four women stood waiting at the bike station near Il Sogno restaurant at the Pearl Brewery complex as I prepared to dock my bike and call it a day.

“Can I help you with the bikes?” I asked, thinking they were new to bike share and uncertain about how to access them. Might as well act like an employee if people think I am one.

“No, we were just waiting for someone to show up because there are only three bikes and now that you’re here there are four,” one of the women replied. Minutes later they were pedaling off toward Broadway.

Empty B-cycle stations with people patiently waiting for returning bikes is a good problem to have if the wait isn’t a long one. For a program that celebrated its second anniversary in March and now has more than 40 stations around the center city, that’s affirmation.

"It's nice to seeing people about," said Matthew Kuhfahl. Why a unicycle? "Growing up my dad was stationed in Japan, Id see them around. I saw them in a store I knew i had to have one. Started riding unicycles in '91." Photo by Steven Starnes..
“It’s nice to seeing people about,” said Matthew Kuhfahl. Why a unicycle? “Growing up my dad was stationed in Japan, I’d see them around. I saw them in a store. I knew I had to have one. Started riding unicycles in ’91.” Photo by Steven Starnes.

The Rivard Report and B-Cycle put on Something Monday bike outings, and tomorrow we will meet up with guide Bonnie Simons for a tour of downtown historical churches. Come join us, on your own bike or a B-cycle.

Sunday was all about enjoying one of the city’s main thoroughfares without motorized vehicles. The event has become a quarterly tradition that draws thousands, suggesting it might be time for city officials, the YMCA, and H-E-B, the presenting sponsor, to consider a monthly trial.

With each Síclovía, the crowds seem to grow: more adults, more kids, more dogs, more cyclists, more walkers, more characters, and more diversions all along the way, some entertaining, some educational, all contributing to a sense of community.

Bubbles, frisbee, jump-rope, parachute, sidewalk chalk – there's always more than bikes at Síclovía. Photo by Kay Richter.
Bubbles, frisbee, jump-rope, parachute, sidewalk chalk – there’s always more than bikes at Síclovía. Photo by Kay Richter.

Síclovía seems to slow everything and everyone down, as if time for one day were rolled back to a simpler era when hurrying and multitasking weren’t part of the daily equation.

Yes, people ride along taking photos with smart phones, and some prefer the sounds of music delivered though ear buds rather than the sounds of people and the street.

"I think Siclovia is a great way for people to get out and meet others in San Antonio while having fun!" said Stehpanie Guerra, a.k.a. Puro Pinche.
“I think Siclovia is a great way for people to get out and meet others in San Antonio while having fun,” said Stephanie Guerra, a.k.a. Puro Pinche. Photo by Steven Starnes.

But most of us pedaled along at a slow enough speed to converse with people we passed.

I’d say “converse with strangers,” but there are no strangers at Síclovía.

Only neighbors, all moving at the same measured pace, a slow pedal in a changing city. The day started and ended at the Pearl for me and a small but diverse group of fellow riders.

I couldn’t help but think as I left for home that the change – now so visible, now so palpable in San Antonio – also started at the Pearl. That was more than a decade ago.

If there were a movie and we could see San Antonio then, and then see San Antonio now, we would be seeing two different cities. It was all very visible on a cool and slow September day riding up and down the people’s Broadway.

Sicovia, Sept. 29, 2013. Photo by Steven Starnes.
Car-free Broadway Street for Sicovia, Sept. 29, 2013. Photo by Steven Starnes.

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

Related Stories:

San Antonio’s Drive Toward Safe Cycling

The Feed: Síclovía – It’s a Party and You’re Invited

Something Monday: Historic Downtown Churches

The Feed: Tuned In and Tuned Out

On Becoming a B-cyclist: A Cautionary Tale

New Event: ‘Something Monday’

Summer Updates From SA B-cycle

Field Research, Riding Around on the San Antonio B-cycle

The Case for Cyclists Breaking Traffic Laws

SicloVerde: Riding Bikes, Visiting Gardens For a Cause

Hell Yes and Hell No to Bike Helmets

The Bike Helmet Dilemma: Freedom and Choice vs. Safety

Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.