The Case for Rethinking South Main Avenue

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Northbound South Main Avenue dead-ends into authorized parking for Bexar County and Main Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Northbound South Main Avenue dead-ends into authorized parking for Bexar County and Main Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Robert RivardMain Avenue south of downtown San Antonio isn’t Main Avenue anymore. It hasn’t been for years. It’s a short street, about 10 blocks long, with two personalities.

The southern reach from S. Alamo to E. Arsenal streets is lined with historic homes. From E. Arsenal into downtown the avenue is a remnant street with no residents that dead ends at E. Nueva Street. Unlike its historic surroundings, this stretch of S. Main wasn’t even built until the mid-20th century.

The block north of E. Nueva Street is closed and used as VIP parking for Bexar County officials. Then there is Main Plaza, which Main Avenue no longer passes through. Main Avenue is a real avenue only north of downtown.

S. Main Avenue at E. Nueva Street dead-ends into authorized parking for Bexar County officeholders. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

S. Main Avenue at E. Nueva Street dead-ends into authorized parking for Bexar County officeholders. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

People should walk or cycle the length of the truncated avenue, which very few actually do, and see if the experience changes their viewpoint.

H-E-B, of course, wants to close the block of S. Main Avenue between E. Arsenal Street and E. Cesar Chavez Boulevard. It wants the property for campus expansion and that means restricting public access. No bike lanes, no pedestrians, no seniors walking to the nearby Commander’s House Senior Center. Many, but not all, of the neighbors as well as the King William Historical Association oppose the closure.

Yet virtually everyone wants to see H-E-B open a vibrant downtown grocery store. Negotiations are under way between city officials and H-E-B executives to try to find a compromise acceptable to both sides. Most negotiations end with both sides compromising. No one gets everything they want. No one leaves happy.

City officials should consider giving H-E-B its closed block and then turning the remaining non-residential blocks of S. Main Avenue between E.  Cesar Chavez Boulevard and E. Nueva Street into a walkable extension of Main Plaza.

The red line on S. Main Avenue represents the one block closure being sought by H-E-B. The purple line represents the proposed new pedestrian way that would be closed to vehicle traffic. Image via Google Maps. NOTE: The Commander's House property extends to S. Main Avenue.

The red line on S. Main Avenue represents the one block closure being sought by H-E-B. The purple line represents the proposed new pedestrian way that would be closed to vehicle traffic. Image via Google Maps. NOTE: The Commander’s House property extends to S. Main Avenue.

Such a placemaking project aligns with the stated goals of Major Julián Castro, SA2020 and the Centro Partnership. Even as efforts to improve on the carnival atmosphere at Alamo Plaza elude city leaders, here is an opportunity to engage in transformative change in the historic core with far fewer roadblocks.

The residential stretch of S. Main Avenue between S. Alamo and E. Arsenal streets ought to have protected bike lanes to encourage safe cycling, jogging and pedestrian traffic.

Those very bike lanes could take riders west one block to S. Flores Street and north through downtown. City planners could accelerate work to make S. Flores and other near-downtown thoroughfares complete streets.

H-E-B headquarters looking north at the intersection of Main Avenue and Arsenal Street. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

H-E-B headquarters looking north from S. Main Avenue and E. Arsenal Street. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Interestingly, the 23rd annual King William Area Yard Sale will be held this Saturday, with 44 different garage sales planned between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. None of those sales will occur along S. Main Avenue north of E. Arsenal Street because there are no homes or people there.

The top image is the street-facing front of the proposed store. The bottom image is the parking-lot facing rear of the proposed store. Image from H-E-B’s proposal.

The top image is the street-facing front of the proposed store. The bottom image is the parking-lot facing rear of the proposed store. Image from H-E-B’s proposal. Click image to enlarge.

Ideally, my proposed S. Main Avenue pedestrian way would extend from Main Plaza all the way to King William and the San Antonio River, but H-E-B executives have stated that the future of its downtown headquarters hinges on the ability of the company to physically expand.

That’s a statement, however worded, that everyone ought to take seriously.

In my 24 years in this city, there have been uncounted occasions when H-E-B has been asked to give to the city and its people, and it has done so, to the tune of tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars.

No other San Antonio company can match its record of giving. No other company has dedicated itself to improving inner city public education opportunities and outcomes. When there is a community need, H-E-B is the first to be asked and, as often as not, the first to give. No other company has created as many jobs, or paid more taxes in the district.

I can’t remember H-E-B ever asking for something in return. Now that it has, I wonder if opponents have fully considered the potential consequences of biting the hand that has fed this city for so long. H-E-B, like any other business, can leave if circumstances merit. H-E-B left Corpus Christi in order to grow and expand. I don’t believe there is a likelihood of that occurring, and I don’t like street closures, either, but I’ll go back to my point about negotiations: No one gets their way all the time.

One possible solution to impasse, then, is to give H-E-B one block of S. Main and give downtown workers and residents a wonderful new gathering place fashioned out of a remnant street that goes nowhere.

If local officials can close one block for H-E-B and already have closed one block for ranking county officials to park near the front door of the Bexar County Justice Center, than they certainly can close a few more fairly inactive blocks to vehicle traffic and give people a space to walk, visit a food truck and eat lunch, sit on a park bench under a shade tree, or ride a bike without fear of passing traffic.

Looking north on S. Main Avenue at the intersection of E. Arsenal Street. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Looking north on S. Main Avenue at the intersection of E. Arsenal Street. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

What should the City ask in return from H-E-B? Ideally, a 10-12,000 sq. ft. grocery store that would serve  the urban core from Broadway to Southtown.

Some opponents of the street closure are angry with H-E-B, a multi-billion dollar company, over the $1 million incentive. Criticism of the grocer on that count is misguided. The $1 million was a City of San Antonio incentive designed to entice a wide range of small and medium business people to give the downtown grocery store request for proposals (RFP) serious consideration.

The two sides could now agree at the negotiating table to use the $1 million to improve access on South Flores Street to the Commander’s House Senior Community Center –which would lose its S. Main Avenue entrance and would have to become more accessible from S. Flores Street. It is ringed by an unsightly chain link fence. The unused turf lawns could be converted to walking gardens that would give the property a park-like feel.

The future success of the H-E-B grocery doesn’t really hinge on the $1 million incentive. In lieu of cash, city officials could offer a multi-year tax abatement tied to sales and profits that might be worth more in the long run to H-E-B.

H-E-B executives believe the center city lacks sufficient residential density to make such a store profitable. Others, including Mayor Julián Castro, believe residential development will accelerate with the addition of a downtown grocery store.

There are those of us who think an artfully designed, well-stocked store will become an overnight success and attract customers on foot, bicycle, B-cycle with baskets, and yes, by car. Build it and we will come.

What about S. Main Avenue north of E. Cesar Chavez Boulevard and H-E-B’s headquarters? The street is home to a row of small law firms whose practices are built around the nearby county courthouse. Attorneys walk to the courts or nearby City Hall. Most of their clients and other courthouse-goers pay to park in nearby surface lots.

Law offices on South Main Avenue. Photos by Iris Dimmick.

Law offices on S. Main Avenue. Photos by Iris Dimmick.

The Heritage Plaza Office Building at 410 S. Main St. seems vacant. No one answers the building’s listed telephone number.

An employee of the building’s owner, developer Solomon Abdo’s Durango Properties, Ltd., did not return a call requesting details about plans for the building. It’s one of the many un attractive and under-utilized buildings that detract from the downtown’s vibrancy.

Heritage Plaza, a vacant office building, stretches north down South Main Avenue. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Heritage Plaza, a vacant office building, stretches north on South Main Avenue. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The northernmost blocks of S. Main Avenue lack retail businesses that could claim to be hurt by the street closure. A well-landscaped pedestrian mall surely would attract new shops and eateries.

I’ve heard residents complain that H-E-B’s proposed street closure will disrupt traffic flow, but as someone who is building a home on E. Arsenal Street one block from the proposed S. Main Avenue closure, I don’t see many neighbors using the block and I don’t worry about my property values.

Vehicle traffic already flows differently than it did before the north-south street closures at Main Plaza. A redeveloped S. Flores Street is the preferred route for drivers on the west side of downtown. It’s ideally suited to become a complete street with cycle tracks, and could easily host Síclovía. Most Southtown-downtown traffic flows along S. St. Mary’s and Navarro streets or S. Alamo Street.

Since the Mayor Hardberger era, when historic Main Plaza was restored as a pedestrian park with direct connections to San Fernando Cathedral and The San Antonio River Walk, Main Avenue has ceased to be a thoroughfare carrying people through downtown and northward. S. Main Avenue was once an artery that carried people on foot, horseback and in wagons or buggies to San Fernando. There’s a certain beauty to returning parts of the city to the pre-automobile era. Today the last few blocks of S. Main Avenue are an unappealing, lightly trafficked stretch that beckon neither locals nor visitors. This is a chance to change all that.

The current debate doesn’t have to end badly. The negotiations can become a conversation about making downtown San Antonio a better place to live, work and visit. Isn’t that everyone’s shared goal?

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

Full disclosure: H-E-B is a sponsor and advertiser on the Rivard Report, and the author is building a residence on E. Arsenal Street on a lot purchased from H-E-B several years ago.

Related Stories:

H-E-B Briefs King William Neighbors on Expansion, Proposed Block Closure

The Feed: Two Guys Aim for Downtown Grocery Stores

Small Footprints, Big Impact: How to Make a Million Dollars Stretch across Center City

State of the Center City: More Housing, Fewer Vacant Buildings

No to Downtown Subsidies: The View from District 9 and Councilwoman Chan

 

 

31 thoughts on “The Case for Rethinking South Main Avenue

  1. I assume you meant to say that Whataburger left Corpus Christi in order to grow and expand, not HEB, but I understand your point completely. Many times I’ll go for runs at night, and quite often my route will include a stretch down S. Main from Main Plaza to Guenther, then wind around somewhere from there. And why do I choose this stretch so often? Simple, because typically in the evenings the street is pretty much mine. With the exception of the occasional VIA bus, no other vehicles – or people for that matter – are around to disrupt my run. This area needs a catalyst to spark some change, so perhaps this is it. Although if that happens I’ll have to find a new place to run!

  2. This article from Bob is not a surprise. He has a long history of being H-E-B’s lap dog and has several financial connections to them. Just as with the CPS energy scandal, Bob is not fully disclosing his connections. This article should be viewed through that lens. It is not written by somebody who has the best interest of the citizens of San Antonio at heart.

  3. The perposed 8k sk ft will be wall to wall product selling space with no storage room. Another grocery store can build a 12k sq ft building with 4k sq ft of storage and still be only 8k sq ft of product selling space.

    8 k sq ft is a great start and can always be expanded when the demand presents it self.

    • This is another common misconception of the “6000-8000 sq. ft.” store. Take a look at the official proposal found at http://extras.mysanantonio.com/pdf/HEBproposal.pdf. The most telling image is found on page 31. About a third of the space you see is going to be dominated by prepared goods shipped in from Central Market. And the store won’t be “packed” with groceries – the design is pleasantly open and airy. There’s not much space for groceries at all. I’m not going to argue that the store should be bigger, but it’s important that people know what store they’re getting.

  4. Thank you . HEB has been here for this city . I like the idea of creating access to pedestrians and bike riders . This can work out when it’s looked at as a give and take . A grocery store would be a success to both sides . HEB does it best . And fits the location . I change my vote to yes ! Thank you

  5. I live on Main Avenue and I am here to tell you, Main Ave. is alive and well.
    North Main is undergoing a building boom around San Antonio College and the Tobin Hill neighborhood.
    South Main would thrive as well if the City would remove it’s meddlesome fingers.
    Main Ave. was once a major artery through the heart of San Antonio. That is, until it was closed and became an ornament for the Bexar County Courthouse.
    And if Main Ave. was an artery, then Houston Street was a vein. But the city-inflicted vascular disease has clogged our blood vessels. About a dozen years ago, Houston Street was narrowed and sidewalks were widened. The one-way avenue became two-way which caused additional blockage.
    To make matters worse, none of the surrounding streets downtown have been adapted to the closures and impediments of Main and Houston.
    Now the city wants to close down another portion of Main and give it to a multi-million dollar corporation?!
    I know HEB has been a good neighbor. And they have received many tax breaks for the many contributions they have made. But there is no reason to treat this giant industry as if it were a Welfare Mother.
    Please DO NOT close any portion of South Main! What’s more, please reopen Main Plaza!
    To keep a downtown alive, people need a way to get there. Hindering traffic is not the avenue to a vibrant downtown.
    Did you know that Alamo Colleges have a clustered complex of buildings just one block south of Arsenal? And did you know they are planning a much-needed move?
    Alamo Colleges have appropriated countless residences and business in their growth around our educational institutions. It is time for the Industrial/Collegiate complex to give back to the city!
    Citizens gain no tax revenue on Alamo Colleges property. The city would gain a giant increase in property taxes if a giant mega-store would move there.
    It would be a grand idea if HEB would acquire the site of the Alamo College property. The entire block of 200 W. Sheridan could be closed for a huge grocery store — with parking!
    It would be short-sighted indeed if we closed our streets, give property away, and decreased our tax base when a win-win-win situation is just a block away!

  6. Thank you, Robert, for disclosing your connection with H-E-B and for encouraging discussion. Maybe your voice will help slow down what sometimes appears to be a runaway train. No one doubts that the City deserves a downtown grocery or that H-E-B has been a great corporate citizen, but the conversation cannot end there.

    Your proposal to close Main from Dolorosa to Arsenal is certainly provocative. Who doesn’t want a more pedestrian friendly inner city? But the article above does not fully address two concerns: (1) the community’s desire for an affordable, sustainable, full service grocery store; and (2) H-E-B’s desire for an expanded closed campus.

    As for the grocery, size is an indicator of affordability and available services. These in turn indicate sustainability; that is, the ability to remain part of the neighborhood for more than the 5 years H-E-B has proposed in its response to the City’s RFI.

    H-E-B has offered to build a grocery store of 6-8,000 square feet. The article above suggests 10-12,000 SF. The City’s RFI suggested “approximately 15,000 SF, with preference for larger stores.” The HR&A study recommended 15-20,000 SF, which is by no means a “big box.”

    The average size grocery in the U.S. is 46,000 SF, while the Texas average is 65,000 SF. The McCreless H-E-B is 330,000 SF. It seems prudent to stick to the recommendation of the independent study.

    As for the closed campus, it appears that H-E-B intends to extend the wall pictured above from the river to Flores and from Chavez to Arsenal, further isolating the public park (Commander’s House), even if access is created to the park from Arsenal.

    Some may feel comfortable living in the shadow of a wall, but I don’t. It runs counter to the recommendation of the Lone Star Community Plan, of which this area is a part.

    While security is no doubt a concern, if it is not safe enough for H-E-B, then it is not safe enough for those who live there.

    Let’s continue the conversation.

  7. Excellent ideas and well stated. We need to revision our downtown area, especially that south of E. Nueva. Walking to the Courthouse and Main Plaza is not a renewing experience. Now in your imagination, walk there after these suggestions were fully implemented. Think how relaxing and enjoyable it would be!

  8. Main Ave is certainly not what it used to be, however FURTHER SEGMENTATION IS NOT THE ANSWER. Both the north and south segments of Main Ave end at Main Plaza, a logical termination at the heart of San Antonio. What if Rivard’s concept for a non-vehicular linear park extended from Main Plaza, past Chavaz, and down to Arsenal? This allows HEB to expand their campus around a public “courtyard”, enhances the grounds of the historic Commander’s House, and provides a pleasant place for customers of the new market and HEB employees to eat lunch outside. NO PUBLIC LAND NEEDS TO BE CLOSED FOR HEB TO EXPAND THEIR HEADQUARTERS. There is a great opportunity here for HEB and San Antonio to do something really great, yet the proposal for a short-term small market, filling station, and street closure remains short-sided, unimaginative, and controversial. SA2020 is about making a great city, not a divided or segmented one.

  9. Hi Bob,
    Your ideas are interesting, but have a major flaw: In order to increase pedestrian and bicycling usage of an area, the area needs to be connected to the rest of a city’s grid. Closing off a block of Main to incorporate it into a company’s compound will interrupt the grid. It will force north- or south-bound pedestrians and bicyclists to have to go far out of their way to move around the mega-block H-E-B is trying to create. This will be a huge blow to the areas walkability.

    Currently, Main Avenue is extremely popular with pedestrians and bicyclists. I know because (1) I’m one of them and (2) I witness the parade of them in front of my office window every day of the week. Closing this street will be a detriment to all of these people as well as the good number of motorists on this street every day.

    • I’m an almost daily bike rider, too. Blocks like S. Main north of E. Arsenal that have speed bumps are not bike friendly. There is no perfect solution to the larger issue at hand, in my opinion, but I wouldn’t call a one block detour to S. Flores a major issue if appropriate bike lanes are added to the street without interruption or vehicle parking blocking them.

  10. Maybe a linear park? With each street block being a different park concept. One block could have a splash pad and other water features for kids. One block could be a dog park. One block could be a horse shoe and disc golf park, another block could be a garden. etc.

  11. Bob, are you secretly working for HEB like you were for CPS? The only thing worse than a giveaway of this block of Main St. is this transparently dishonest attempt to link it with the separate issue of what happens north of Chavez. You know, kind of the same way HEB has tried to link it with the separate issue of a downtown grocery store. Closing the segment of Main south of Chavez and giving it away to a private corporation in no way “aligns with the stated goals of SA2020.” How naive do you think we are?

    Moreover, turning Main north of Chavez into a pedestrian-only plaza doesn’t seem too well-thought either. Parks and plazas that actually work do so only because they connect the parts of everyday life for the intended inhabitants. To what would this connect? Law firms and surface parking? HEB’s private campus?

    Great cities of the world, those with people on foot and life and excitement, aren’t built on one-way-in-one-way-out suburban enclaves and mega-blocks. Did we learn nothing from Hemisphere Plaza (which is in no sense a “plaza”)? Great cities have fine-grained activity and incremental growth, including lots of little spaces to maneuver and park the necessary vehicles. Their street grids connect and belong to the public. The ingredients — pedestrians, cars, bikes, apartments, shops, offices, street vendors — are overlayed and balanced on every slice of the pizza, not cordoned off into separate bins.

    • I didn’t work secretly for CPS Energy and I don’t work for H-E-B. Just because I don’t hold the same view on a given subject as you doesn’t diminish the value of my viewpoint. We will gladly post your viewpoint when it’s contrary to ours, and we’ll do so without the snark. –RR

      • The “snark” is rooted in a well-known and reported story. And if I thought the value of your viewpoint could be diminished only for it being contrary to my own, I wouldn’t have written those three paragraphs. I’m amused at how your rebuttal made no effort to engage the points I raised.

        • James

          Read the HEB story we post by a guest contributor later this afternoon/evening, and then tell me:

          1. What other local media has published the same diversity of viewpoint on the subject, an approach the Rivard Report tries to take on topics or issues that tend to divide the community?

          2. What do you accomplish by attacking the messenger, who you do not even know?

          • It’s clear you did not read my comment for its content. I did not attack the messenger, I asked a reasonable question about conflicts of interest that has crossed many of our minds, and then went directly to stating my case about a city planning issue.

            It’s all well and good that you published more than one writer’s viewpoint on this (as publications often do), but that hardly precludes a reader expressing disagreement with one of those articles.

  12. The principle thought behind the French “boulevard” is the connection of one destination to another. The “complete street” is really not much different. In general, a low priority street would not be improved to such a degree simply because it does not make any sense. It is already bad that the court people have barricaded Main just S. of Main plaza, why add further? There is no destination to walk to.

  13. Pick up a book on the principles of urban planning… if you want to destroy urban life, build super blocks that separate people from each other. If folks in Southtown have to walk, drive, or bicycle around a gated corporate compound to get to their neighbors then we are intentionally destroying the connectivity that makes urban life possible. I cannot image any action that we could take that would undermine our commitment to urban living more than putting this gated super block between our most vital neighborhoods. This is not about HEB being a good corporate citizen… it is about continuing to use bad planning practices that all professional planners know to destroy urban life. Blocking S. Main is bad for Southtown. bad for Downtown and bad for HEB. Do they really want San Antonio citizens to have to go around this walled compound with their name on it for the next 30 years?

    • 30? I’m staying at least another 50. This thing will be permanent if it’s not nipped in the bud now. Some much-needed reporting is the number of north-south connector streets we’ve lost. Its very likely we will lose Alamo at the shrine. Surely someone could post a good map of the streets we’ve lost to what are now badly-outdated urban planning and master planning practices. Speaking of that Master Plan, it’s hardly credible that a corporation of this magnitude, purchasing properties up and down Flores, does not have a current Master Plan in the works. I’m guessing it does and that their local architect has it under wraps. Why is it so secretive? This kind of downtown development is what we’ve chosen to undo and our adopted SA2020 goals speak out against. It’s the opposite of the American Institute of Architects’ “10 Principles of Livable Cities”. If this were Patterson by Central Market or a big chunk of Rockhill in Alamo Heights, we would not be having this discussion.

      So why on earth is it somehow acceptable to do this to inner city historic districts? It’s nothing more than institutional encroachment. There’s a very big difference between wanting and needing something. An open accessible S. Main Avenue in no way inhibits H.E.B’s ability to hire more people. Those very people we want living downtown. In those 350 units we are building without even considering an adaptive reuse project for the most important Hispanic television facility in the nation. We are not anti-development as we often get taunted. We are anti-you coming in and making us look like badly designed suburbs. We have great minds down here. Put us to work helping find a solution. What’s out there now, what’s ready to go to Zoning, Planning and then City Council very, very soon is just not the neighborly thing to do. We all deserve better.

      We all applaud this company for their civic and especially their preservation record. The Arsenal and residences on King William Street are fine preservation victories for us all to enjoy. Finding a sustainable way for all of us to enjoy safe access together is truly a legacy of preservation worthy of such a corporate and private citizen.

  14. There are several issues at play here and, having lived and worked in the King William area since the early 80’s, I feel the lack of a downtown grocery store is the least of them. For those that would never move to the inner city anyway, it’s always been the preferred excuse to just admitting you prefer the suburbs (which is perfectly fine). Rush hour or no, Central Market is a consistent 10 minute drive from KW. Try getting to your local HEB from most of the neighborhoods in Stone Oak, or many other far north enclaves, and do the comparison. San Antonio is just now entering its re-urbanization cycle and the overwhelming demand for residential units both north and south of downtown over the past several years is proof positive that lack of a downtown grocery store is no impediment.

    Of utmost importance is the closing of Main. Bob, I concur with your assessment of activity on Main Ave. south of Cesar Chavez – as it stands today; however, as recently as 3-4 years ago you could have taken a nap in the middle of South Alamo on any given weekend with little danger. South Alamo was far from the active public space that it is today. Main Avenue today is not what Main Avenue could be 5, 10, 20 years from now. The idea of closing Main goes against all tenants of Urban Planning 101, and there are innumerable examples around the US of the failed concept of pedestrian only streets that became fashionable in the 80’s and early 90’s. We only have to look at Pearl as an example of well-designed thoroughfares where cars, pedestrians and bikes co-exist in a way that creates a vibrant atmosphere that also promotes commercial activity. Thankfully, the planners of Hemsifair Park know this. Up I-35, the City of Austin has made re-inserting streets into their massive Seaholm and Green Water Treatment sites a critical requirement for their re-development. So why are we then doing the exact opposite in our corner of the world (and why can I ask that same question on any number of civic decisions over the past several decades?….but I digress).

    Which leads me to the issue that has me most disheartened – that an incredible opportunity to create a catalyzing amenity, both for HEB employees and the citizens of San Antonio, is being traded for the short term, easy and unsophisticated solution. Around the US, major corporations are doing everything they can to create vibrant work environments, integrated into the urban fabric, in an effort to attract and retain the best and brightest employees. Who would rather work in a suburban office campus and eat lunch in the corporate cafeteria when they can walk out their office, do some work at a café where they can mix with their fellow citizens (and in this case, with their actual customers), and be energized by the street life of an active city? The answer for those who will be HEB’s employees of the future is exactly zero. A plan that includes a complete street Main Ave., a grocery store and a café/coffee shop accessible to employees and the public (which likely subsidizes the grocery component) vs. an 80’s style corporate campus in the middle of downtown and a historic district? In this particular facility decision, HEB needs to be talking to HR, not the Real Estate department.

  15. IMO, Main Street, from the Central Library to S. Alamo, is the only safe bicycle route through the center city. At the present time, I have to walk the bike through Main Plaza (or coast through, if no one is in the plaza) and then ride one hair-raising block on Flores before I can continue along Main. Main Street is wide which makes it easy for cars and bikes to share and much of its length is bus-free.
    When the construction next to the court house is finished, I hope they install permanent bike paths through there, so that Main Street will become the default route from the River North district to King William, Blue Star and the Mission Reach.

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