Ever since Síclovía started three years ago, the event has always been held on Broadway from Alamo Plaza to Mulberry Avenue. While event organizers sometimes experimented with the route, Broadway was always the place where San Antonians would “go play in the streets.”
This year, however, the possibility of future construction on Broadway and a desire to share the fun with other parts of the city led organizers move the next Síclovía to the Southside.
Síclovía, organized by the YMCA of Greater San Antonio and presented by H-E-B, offers people the chance to bike, jog, walk, skateboard and, for a day, enjoy a major street closed to vehicular traffic.
This year’s route will start at the intersection of South St. Mary’s Street and East Cesar Chavez Boulevard, continue south on St. Mary’s/Roosevelt Avenue, to East Mitchell Street and Mission Road to Mission Concepción along the San Antonio River. The event will take place Sunday, March 30, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Modeled after the original open streets event, Ciclovía in Bogotá, San Antonio’s first Síclovía was staged in October 2011 and drew an estimated 15,000. By the time Síclovía was held in September 2013 more than 73,000 participants were attracted on a Sunday marked by perfect weather.
Sandy Morander, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, said bringing Síclovía to the Southside will bring people to parts of the city , including the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River and the Missions, they do not normally frequent.
“This, I think, offers so much more in terms of amenities along the route that this actually will bring a whole new dimension to it,” Morander said of the route.
Organizations such as the San Antonio River Authority will probably join the Reclovía activity areas to provide information about river recreation.
Cyclists, runners, walkers and others will find three areas along the route worth stopping at to enjoy activities and sample vendors. Those Reclovías will be at Roosevelt Park and Mission Concepción. There, people will find exercise demonstrations, as well as free-form activities like hula hooping, sidewalk chalk art, pickleball, and soccer games. Food and water can be found throughout the route.
While the YMCA is the coordinator of the event, the City of San Antonio provides a lot of support for the event in terms of traffic management and waste collection.
Taking this southward direction, the event will cross City Council Districts 1, 3, and 5 and travel through some of the city’s older neighborhoods and historic areas. Síclovía will make its debut in District 3, the city’s southeast council district.
“We’re going to bring attention to it in this part of town and offer it to everyone,” said Rebecca Viagran, District 3 Councilwoman. “Just to come out of their houses to play in the street, exercise, and meet more people in the community.”
Regarding concerns about disrupting mass at Mission Concepción, a historic mission and active parish, Viagran said the YMCA had coordinated with Father David Garcia, Mission Concepción’s parish priest and Archdiocesan director of the Old Spanish Missions, to anticipate challenges. VIA will be coordinating bus routes to offer transportation parallel to the route to help people navigate both to Síclovía and any of the areas along the route.
H-E-B signed on as the presenting sponsor for the event, which will start blocks from their corporate headquarters in the King William District.
“We are so very excited to be a part of this event, which promotes healthy lifestyles while highlighting the beauty and diversity of the beautiful city that H-E-B calls home,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B’s Vice President of Communication and Engagement.
While event organizers targeted an attendance of 65,000, Rogers ambitiously raised the bar today for a record 100,000 participants.
When Síclovía started in October 2011, it was an event coordinated by the Mayor’s Fitness Council and the YMCA and funded by a Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant managed by the City’s Metro Health department. Looking at events around the globe, the Council settled on Bogotá’s Ciclovía, a Sunday and holiday event that now draws estimates of over two million residents on more than 70 miles of car-free streets. While San Antonio is far from having the same participation as Bogotá at 30% of the population, each Síclovía draws the city closer to the same mark.
Across the United States there are open streets events in most major cities, each under different names such as San Francisco’s Sunday Streets or Miami’s monthly Bike Miami Days. Within Texas, San Antonio became the trailblazer city and drew representatives from other major Texas cities to see how they bring the fun to their city. In 2013, Austin hosted Viva Streets Austin, and interest has been expressed by Houston and Dallas to hold similar events.
Bringing Síclovía to the Southside helps highlight the extensive outdoor recreational area anchored by the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. While the event may move back to Broadway some day, for now it and the river have joined as recreational partners.
Randy Bear is a 20-plus years San Antonio resident, transplanted from Little Rock to join the ranks of USAA in Information Technology. Over the last two decades, he’s been involved in a variety of civic and political activities, including work with San Antonio Sports, KLRN, Keep San Antonio Beautiful, and Fiesta San Antonio. Randy’s political life took root when several friends from Arkansas pulled him into the first Clinton presidential campaign. Since then, he’s been active in politics and government, including a brief period serving on the staff of former City Councilman Reed Williams.