As strains of Queen’s “I want to ride my bicycle” blared from the interior of a recumbent tricycle displayed at Dignowity Park Tuesday morning, those gathered to hear the details about this Sunday's Síclovía also heard that a substantial dent is being made in San Antonio’s obesity rate, at long last.
Sunday’s event begins with a 5K run/walk at 8 a.m., and the main, free event closes down Broadway Street to bike, skate, and pedestrian traffic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This time, a route extension will swing into the Dignowity Hill neighborhood, home to Mayor Ivy Taylor, via McCullough and Nolan Streets. More than 65,000 people are expected to turn out for the biannual event.
“At each Síclovía we to try to add something new for our guests to enjoy,” said Sandy Morander, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, which organizes Síclovía and its partners, in a press release. “This route extension adds a fresh take on our event while serving Eastside residents who may have not been able to experience past Síclovías.”
Dr. Thomas Schlenker, Metropolitan Health District director for the City of San Antonio, told attendees that Síclovía has become “a symbol of an entire community, an experience that works for everyone, and the results are ‘more than symbolic.’ ”
After decades of rising obesity, he said, we’re finally seeing a decline in San Antonio, from 35% to 28%, in just two years (2010-12).
As they’ve dug into the data, Schlenker said, they’ve found two things to associate with that all-important decline. One is a greater percentage of people locally adding muscle-building exercises to their aerobics, important both for weight loss and for injury prevention.
Secondly, fewer people are apparently drinking daily sodas. From 2010-12, the percentage of individuals in the city who consume a soda every day dropped from 71% to 64%.
“A big change,” Schlenker said. “We need to say, ‘If you drink soda as part of your daily diet, find a substitute for that.’
“Let’s keep the ball rolling,” Schlenker added. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
“Síclovía is symbolic of a change underway in San Antonio,” said Kate Rogers, vice president of communications and engagement at H-E-B, and head of the Mayor’s Fitness Council. “We want to make the active choice, the easy choice.”
One of her suggestions was increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, a choice made “easier” by coming to a Farmers Market, such as the one at Lion’s Field Park, at 2809 Broadway.
District 2 Councilmember Keith Toney praised the efforts of Dignowity Hill residents to support Síclovía’s efforts, and also singled out Shaun Lee and Truckin’ Tomato for his willingness to bring the farmers market to local residents via his mobile food truck.
"(Dignowity Hill residents) are not quiet. But look where it’s gotten them,” Toney said referring to improvements to Dignowity Park at the corner of Nolan and Hackberry.
Humana Vice President Thomas Silliman spoke about how Síclovía is one of Humana’s favorite events to help sponsor as a partner because, “it’s an example to the nation of health and wellness,” particularly because it incorporates the family. “When you involve the whole family,” he said, “it makes an impact.”
Morander said this year's Síclovía will be the “longest route, and the best event” so far. Her advice? “Get out, get healthy, get active.”
There will be 20 Reclovías along the route, offering health education information and a variety of activities, including a San Antonio Parks and Recreation mobile fitness unit, 75 free bike rentals offered by Bike Texas, a “Ride and Learn Zone,” sponsored by KLRN, teaching school-age bike safety, and a giveaway of 700 free bike helmets.
Note to participants: Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated.
To learn more about the event, go to www.Siclovia.org.
*Featured/top image: A free fitness class during Síclovía in March 2014. Photo by Page Graham.