Brace yourselves, Síclovía is coming.
City streets near downtown San Antonio will close this Sunday to vehicles from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to make way for the mass of bikes, trikes, unicycles, skates, wagons, sneakers and the humans that use them. The streets are their playground for the day. About 65,000 people are expected to crowd a 3.25-mile stretch of Broadway Street from Lions Field to Alamo Plaza, and east of Broadway Street along McCullough Avenue/Nolan Street to Dignowity Park in the Eastside.
Sunday’s Síclovía marks the ninth festival in four years, and it has attracted larger audiences each time.
“The festival’s growth has increased the community’s education on public wellness,” said Stephanie Jerger, YMCA of Greater San Antonio communications director.
When the City of San Antonio received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a portion of which was designated for programs that would engage community members in physical activities. The City partnered with the YMCA of Greater San Antonio to host Síclovía, inspired by the Ciclovía tradition in Bogotà, Colombia that draws more than 1 million people every week.
After the first local Síclovía in 2011, the YMCA took leadership of the event and the City, the Metropolitan Health District, and other organizations became partners.
“We are all working together to improve the health and wellness in our community and offer safe and accessible opportunities for families to be active,” Jerger said.
The partnering efforts seem to be working. According to a YMCA survey, less than 30% of the respondents reported exercising five or more days a week, but nearly 70% of attendees attended Síclovía for physical activity. Although the pedal-powered festival only lasts for one day, more than half of the respondents reported they have become more physically active since attending Síclovía.
This year, Síclovía is adding a touch of technology to the city’s largest health and wellness festival by launching a mobile app that will make it easier for attendees to find their friends and family. The app will include a geo-location map to navigate the route and find parking and water stations, activity schedules, push notifications, a donation function, and a function to take the Síclovía Safety Pledge for a chance to win bicycle helmets.
For those with an extra pep in their step, Síclovía will host a 5K run and walk. The race will begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday in front of Alamo Plaza, traverse the entire Síclovía route, and meet again in front of the plaza. Awards will be given to the fastest runners and walkers. Arrive between 6-7:45 a.m. to register the day of the event.
Reclovía stations, or rest stations, will be available every half mile for attendees who want to grab a drink of water, listen to music, learn about health and wellness, or participate in family friendly games.
Pets on leashes are welcome. Helmets are not required, but strongly encouraged.
*Top image: A child rides down Nolan Street near Dignowity Park during Síclovía 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.