Something Monday: Breaking the Law to Main Plaza

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Two bike ships passing in the night. Something Monday (right) meets Zombie Bike night(?). Photography by Cooksterz.

Two bike ships passing in the night. Something Monday (right) meets Zombie Bike night(?). Photography by Cooksterz.

biopicIt’s days like these – warm, barely humid, almost chilly in the evening – that remind me why we put up with San Antonio summers. Monday was no exception, a perfect evening for Something Monday riders to explore Main Plaza as the sun set just beyond San Fernando Cathedral.

About 20 riders of varying experience levels and bike styles joined us on this casual, social ride in partnership with San Antonio B-Cycle that led us from the Blue Star Arts complex, through the King William Historical District and down into “The Heart of the City.”

The Something Monday crew rides through the King William Historic District. Photography by Cooksterz.

The Something Monday crew rides through the King William Historic District. Photography by Cooksterz.

But as we approached the Johnson Street foot bridge Something Monday experienced its first run-in with the law. An officer of the San Antonio Police Department, using a loud-speaker from his patrol car, said something to the effect of, “That was a stop sign … and stay in your lane.”

Moments earlier, as the group converged on the intersection of Johnson and King William Streets, we stopped as a whole and continued through the stop sign, as no cars were coming in any direction, as one big bike blob. As tempting as it is to act as one unit, this is against the law – each cyclist is supposed to stop (acting as a car) and groups should ride two abreast. Indeed we were taking up more than our fair share of the road –  easy to do in big groups on slow, near-empty neighborhood streets.

Something Monday rides over the San Antonio river via the Johnson Street footbridge. Photo by Steve Wood.

Something Monday rides over the San Antonio river via the Johnson Street footbridge. Photo by Steve Wood.

A few riders and myself stayed behind to address the officer, who quickly sped up to the curb and approached us.

“Great. Is he really going to issue us tickets?” I thought to myself. “I guess I’m in charge of this Something Monday thing … should I offer to pay for them?”

I started with the officer by acknowledging that were being a bit too casual through the neighborhood and assured him that we would be more diligent in following traffic laws – which we were.

His response was a surprisingly short, “Okay. Be careful.”

Not the discourse on bicycle laws and safety that I was expecting, but, lesson learned.

He quickly got into his patrol car and drove away before I could explain further or ask his name, it’s likely that he was called to another scene or perhaps he decided that pursuing this infraction would not be the best use of his time.

The remaining ride to Main Plaza continued on quite legally and smoothly, especially for Steve Wood, who joined us in his recumbent velomobile. I was surprised at how fast, sturdy, and quiet his pod-like recumbent tricycle was. Wood is founder of San Antonio Bike Tours, which uses the tag line, “The laid back way to see S.A.”

Steve Wood, of San Antonio Bike Tours, joins the Something Monday crew in his velomobile. Photography by Cooksterz.

Steve Wood, of San Antonio Bike Tours, joins the Something Monday crew in his velomobile. Photography by Cooksterz.

Literally, those that sign up for the by-appointment tours in recumbent tricycles, are the most laid back traffic on San Antonio’s streets. Wood and his futuristic contraption was a welcome addition to our pack.

During the ride, the group was buzzing about this Sunday’s Síclovía. The biannual bike festival closes down two and half miles of Broadway, includes interactive and educational booths, food trucks, vendors, a doggy station, and more.

[Read more about Sunday’s festivities: “The Feed: Síclovía – It’s a Party and You’re Invited.”]

Sara Reid rides the Mission Reach with the Something Monday crew. Photo by Steve Wood.

Sara Reid (left) rides the Mission Reach with the Something Monday crew. Photo by Steve Wood.

Also on the ride was Sara Reid, local dentist technician and certified cycling instructor. She leads an historical Eastside bike tour, City Sights By Bike, almost every Sunday – depending on the weather.

This Sunday, the weather looks good for both Reid and Síclovía. She’ll be at the San Antonio Museum of Art’s parking lot at 110 W. Jones Ave. at 8 a.m. greeting guests and making sure bikes are in working, safe order. At 9 a.m., she’ll depart to tell the “East Side Story” through the cemeteries, old schools, and Hays Street Bridge of the area. Find out more at www.facebook.com/citysightsbybike, the tour ends at noon, so there’s plenty of time to stop by Síclovía afterwards.

When we arrived at the plaza we were greeted by Main Plaza Conservancy (MPC) Executive Director Jane Pauley-Flores who explained how, through aggressive programming and partnerships, the MPC has been able to reactivate the public space since its redevelopment in 2007.

Jane Pauley-Flores (center, left) lets Something Monday riders know about upcoming events in the Plaza. Photo by Mihn Nguyen.

Jane Pauley-Flores (center, left) lets Something Monday riders know about upcoming events in the Plaza. Photo by Mihn Nguyen.

The interactive (read: play in them) fountains have played a large part as well as concerts, movies, private event rental, and public art.

For instance, Pauley-Flores said, on Oct. 26, the plaza will be filled with hundreds of high school mariachi bands competing for a spot on the Plaza’s Mariachi Corazón de San Antonio. A place in the band, acting as a sort of ambassador of San Antonio and the MPC, also means a $1,000 per year college scholarship – $5,000 if they are awarded four years in a row.

“This shows that students can matriculate into higher education through music,” Pauley-Flores said. “It’s opening doors for so many kids.”

She also shared details about the upcoming art installation, San Antonio | THE SAGA, which will be installed and revealed in spring 2014.

French artist Xavier de Richemont, who has similar work on display in Germany, Spain and France (see above video), will use dozens of projectors to turn the facade of San Fernando Cathedral into a moving canvas to portray the story behind Main Plaza. How long will it be up there? About three nights a week, Pauley -Flores said, for 10 years. For more information, visit www.mainplaza.org.

Pauley-Flores also pointed out some lesser-known features in the plaza, including the large stone inlays with factual, historical information about the plaza scattered throughout the grounds. She then gracefully fielded questions while the sun began to set – our solar cue to start the ride back.

[Read more: “Something Monday: Tour ‘The Heart of the City,’ Main Plaza”]

We rode back down Flores Street to the Blue Star Arts Complex. Some needed to go home, others needed a well-earned drink and a bite at La Tuna Icehouse and Grill. We did run into another formidable bike ride on the way. Is this the Zombie Bike Ride, by chance?

Two bike ships passing in the night. Something Monday (right) meets Zombie Bike night(?). Photography by Cooksterz.

Two bike ships passing in the night. Something Monday (right) meets Zombie Bike night(?). Photography by Cooksterz.

Bells were rung, fun was had, connections were made. Stay tuned this Sunday for our Síclovía and City Sights by Bikes coverage. You’re sure to see some familiar faces.

The Something Monday crew relaxes post-ride at La Tuna. Photography by Cooksterz.

The Something Monday crew relaxes post-ride at La Tuna. Photography by Cooksterz.

 

Iris Dimmick is managing editor of the Rivard Report. Follow her on Twitter @viviris or contact her at iris@rivardreport.com.

 

Related Stories:

Something Monday: Engineering San Antonio’s Moving Water

Mysteries Revealed (Within Reason) for Something Monday Social Bike Ride

Something Monday: Brackenridge Park, Home to a City’s Oft-Forgotten History

Something Monday: Mission Possible

Rain Date: Historic Mission Reach Party on Oct. 5

Something Monday: Bikes, Beer and Beautification on the Mission Reach

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

 

11 thoughts on “Something Monday: Breaking the Law to Main Plaza

  1. I’m glad the lesson was learned. As a cyclist, nothing drives me crazier than to see other cyclists ignore the rules of the road, giving fodder for motorists to blame cyclists. Even in a pack, even on empty streets, please follow the rules of the road at all times.

  2. You do know that Sara Reid who was in the group teaches a bicycle safety course, right? It’s a great 2 day course that really teaches the rules of the road and gives riders confidence for riding the streets and roads.

    By the way, on my way back to Pearl I was almost run over by a bicyclist leading his large group right through a red light on St. Mary’s. He looked me straight in the eye as I was about the enter the intersection on my green light. I had to yell at him to stop before he would have plowed me down.

    Drivers will respect us more on bikes if we show them we’re obeying the laws.

    • Lynn, I’m delighted that you are an empowered cyclist, many people think if they can balance a bike there isn’t anything left to learn. Riding a bike as traffic doesn’t require speed, nerves of steel, a group or special facilities. You do need to be visible, predictable and aware. We will be offering a condensed one day workshop in October. Info at facebook.com/StreetwiseSanAntonio

  3. So what will we lose in connectivity if we give away, actually pay HEB, to take a huge historic chunk of S. Main Avenue permanently? Don’t close Main arteries. Always a bad idea. I want to ride my bike up to Main Plaza and beyond for the rest of my life. Street closures will seriously break the spirit of SA2020 goals as well as good progressive urban planning. Weigh in people. The vote will be in November.

  4. I showed up about 2 years ago for an organized early-morning bike ride from the City Art office (on Pecan, I think?) to Sunken Gardens overlook, then Hayes St. Bridge. It was a pretty large group. I was horrified that (1) helmets were not required, (2) there was absolutely no pre-departure instruction about riding patterns, yielding to cars, not hogging the road, and (3) — the worst — once the ride started it was just a mob of bikes taking up entire lanes, crashing red lights, acting self-righteous, etc. This was during a weekday rush hour. The organizers did NOTHING to keep the group organized, to monitor crossing busy intersections, or even set a good example of safe city biking. Do you really think those folks in cars trying to get to their jobs on time had warm feelings in their hearts because a bunch of people were la-la-la biking thru the city? As other commenters here have said, nothing angers drivers more than bad bike behavior.

  5. RE those “big bike blobs” going thru intersections. When there’s a large organized group, why don’t the oganizers cluster riders into smaller “cells” so 10 or fewer bikes can scurry quickly thru an intersection at a time rather than a monster herd all at once? I think drivers would be less annoyed by a small bike group taking “a turn” at the intersection rather than having to wait for a huge mob. C’m on, folks, we’re in this together, whether on 4 wheels, 2 wheels or no wheels.

  6. I am incredibly impressed with the comments about following the laws and being considerate of drivers. This past Monday I had a terrible experience with a biking group. I left the group within a half hour of the ride starting because of the flagrant light running and such. Afterward I posted a comment on the groups meetup page. All of the responses were either insults, name calling or excuses for the behavior. Do you have any suggestions on a good group to ride with. I live in King William. I’m curious about the zombie group and was wondering when and where they meet. And if just anyone can show up and join the ride.

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