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Perhaps you’re one of those folks who’s glad that Fiesta is coming to an end. Or maybe you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and have been reveling in the carnival atmosphere while doubling up on drinks, gorditas and cascarones (they’re gluten free, vato!). Either way, you’re in luck: Just as this party ends, there’s another about to begin.

We’re talking Bike Month! And if you thought the last week and a half was busy, then you haven’t seen the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Walk & Roll calendar, which is chock full of events (most of which are free and family friendly), giving everyone in the community the opportunity to get out and about and have fun while burning off all that extra fiesta queso.

“May is National Bike Month, and we honor that by offering and promoting rides, walks, workshops and other events in our city, and kick it off with our annual Walk & Roll Rally at Main Plaza on Friday, May 3 at 8 a.m.,” said Lydia Kelly, MPO bicycle/pedestrian transportation planner.

Hopeful graffiti in New York City. Photo by Tom Trevino.
Hopeful graffiti in New York City. Photo by Tom Trevino.

The rally offers the chance to show your support for active transportation in our city, while getting up close and personal with local leaders. Folks are encouraged to walk or ride to the event, and VIA Metropolitan Transit will be offering free bus transportation for cyclists with bikes on the day of the rally.

Plus, there will be other great perks, including free refreshments, door prizes from the folks at REI San Antonio, Bike World, and SA Shoes (among others), informational exhibits, and free T-shirts while they last.

Lydia Kelly, MPO bicycle/pedestrian transportation planner.
Lydia Kelly, MPO bicycle/pedestrian transportation planner. Courtesy photo.

“The event has grown each year, and it’s great to have so much support,” Kelly said. “Last year we even had people get the okay to show up to work a little late so that they could be a part of this.”

So go talk to your boss now. Better yet, invite him to the event with you. Heck, invite all your coworkers to join in and get the powers that be to shut down the office for a bit in the name of a little exercise and activism.

“It’s important to show up and show our leaders that the interest is there, not only on a local level, but on a national level,” Kelly said. “We’re not at the platinum level yet, and we need to continue the progression to become more bicycle friendly … And for that to happen, the public needs to show support.”

Local businesses can get involved in other ways as well, by coordinating with the MPO and offering discounts and incentives to patrons who bike or take alternative means of transportation to their establishment. The MPO helps highlight those businesses by offering fliers and signage to help support the cause.

And if you’re a concerned cyclist, make sure to stop by at the next Bike Night public meeting for the Bicycle Mobility Advisory Committee. They’d love to have your input and feedback on upcoming maps and other projects. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 8th at 6 p.m. at the Via Metro Center at 1021 San Pedro.

Overall, the state of cycling in our city definitely seems to be improving. We were the first city in the state with the B-Cycle bike share program, and it’s already the second busiest in the nation. And since 2000, we’ve gone from 30 miles of on road bike facilities (think bike lanes and the like) to more than 240 miles worth.

The La Villita B-Cycle rack awaits customers. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
The La Villita B-Cycle rack awaits customers. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

All this adds up to a more presentable and interesting draw for persons moving to our city, Kelly said. “They want to know how bicycle friendly our town is, and when they hear about the expansion of all our bike trails and paths, it gives them one more reason to want to come here.”

But that’s not the biggest impact on bicycle culture she’s noticed in the last several years. That’s reserved for the change in perception and attitude among our citizenry: Many expect to see cyclists on the road and are encouraged now more than ever to give it a try themselves.

“With all the improvements, upgrades, and additions of bike paths and an easily accessible bike share program in place, everything seems to be coming together to have a really nice system in our city,” Kelly said.

The bittersweet part of it all is that at the end of Bike Month, Kelly herself will be moving on to Minnesota after more than eight years at the MPO. She’ll be back from time to time as a winter Texan, and will most likely be out on the some of the very trails and paths she helped foster.

“The reality is, that if you don’t have committed, full time people like her working on these programs, things just don’t get done,” said Scott Ericksen, Public Involvement Coordinator for the MPO. “She’s been great, and has done an excellent job, and will definitely be missed.”

In honor of Bike Month, and all the progress you’ve helped bring about, thanks, Lydia for all you’ve done.

Plan to hit the road during Bike Month? Here’s some helpful reminders to keep you safe and sound:

bicycle safety
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Tom Trevino is a writer, artist and wellness coach based out of San Antonio. His column, “The Feed,” addresses health and fitness issues and dispense practical advice for San Antonians attempting to wade through the often-confusing diet and fitness world. He holds a B.A. from the University of Texas, with training and certification from the Cooper Institute. He has a fondness for dogs, the New York Times, and anything on two wheels. When he’s not writing, training, or cooking, you can find him wandering the aisles of Central Market.

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