For most of a perfect March day in San Antonio, Broadway from Mulberry to McCullough was car free and care free — completely in the hands of the people. Yes, the city’s premier surface street was closed and it wasn’t even parade day during Fiesta. Welcome to Síclovia San Antonio, the March 4, 2012 edition.
Thousands of all ages answered the call: They came on bikes of all shapes, sizes and prices, including more than a few parent-child tandems. I checked out three area B-Cycle stations and they were either empty or down to one available bike. Plenty of others came on foot, some pushing strollers, pulling toddler-laden wagons, or showing off pet dogs. In between, came the roller bladers, the skate boarders, and adult couples in tucked into kid-sized pedal cars. I saw a single unicyclist and there was one clown.
The lines of hungry Síclovístas queueing up to food trailers suggests there is a growing appetite in the city for food trailers that don’t just come for the day.
Síclovía might not have started in Bogotá, but it grew famous there. Today, more than a million Colombianos take to the 70 streets closed in the city each Sunday. San Antonio got into the act last year with its first Síclovía, also staged on Broadway, on Oct. 2. Sunday’s second Síclovía officially began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m., but I rode from Southtown to the Pearl at 8:30 a.m. and already police had the street safely shut down for the early birds.
If Síclovía was the main act of the circus, there were plenty of side shows to sample. One of the biggest was the H-E-B wellness tent, where a staff dietitian was delivering free nutrition advice. She must have been serving up something healthy and delicious along with a little counseling, judging by the large crowd she attracted under a big red tent.
A few live music venues added an uptempo beat to the day, and in one empty parking lot a carnival atmosphere attracted onlookers, some of whom couldn’t resist a challenge to step right up and see how many time they could flip a 130-pound tire over on its other side. It was a South Texas tractor pull version of the old sledge-hammer and ball act.
For many who came out, it was probably their first close up look at a resurgent Broadway that is changing by the day. Multiple residential complexes are newly opened or under construction and already leasing. The Pearl expansion continues apace, and the newly expanded former ButterKrust bakery will soon become the new corporate headquarters of C.H Guenther & Son Inc., with room for more if you are interested.
The expanded Witte Museum debuts its new building soon, and local architecture firms are vying to design the new Children’s Museum, which will be built on the site of the former Lone Star Dodge and Chrysler dealership at Broadway and Mulberry. The $45 million project drew widespread attention when it was announced that Charles Butt, chairman and CEO of H-E-B, had donated $20 million to fund nearly half the cost.
While some vehicle traffic shuttled on to adjacent streets led angry drivers to honk and speed past cyclists, most seemed enlivened by the spectacle. Síclovías probably will become quarterly events in the city. Someday, maybe they will happen every Sunday.
Photos by Robert Rivard.