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Pedaling forerunners have already done the dangerous work of preparing SA streets for two-wheelers

Photo: Photos by Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

Last Friday night ride with the Downtown Highlife Bicycle Club, September 30, 2011.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

James Odom, San Antonio's solitary bicycle messenger.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

Young riders at Síclovía, Sunday, October 3, 2011.

“You wouldn’t look at SA and say ‘What a good city to bike in,’” said Cindi Snell, the director of B-cycle and co-owner of Bike World. “We brought B-cycle in before infrastructure was in place, putting the cart before the horse. Now I think that infrastructure will follow because there is so much enthusiasm.” The first bicycle-sharing program in Texas, B-cycle set up in March and is still growing. The planned addition of another two stations this year will increase the fleet from 160 to 200 bikes. But Snell wants more. “We want to expand to college campuses, and connect lower Broadway with more stations. Then we’ll branch out.” There is already interest from a developer up north at 1604 and I-10.

The bicycles are intended for short trips of 30 minutes or less, the time it takes to go from one docking station to another. With an annual membership cost of only $60, its quite a bargain. In some ways, its better than the gym for exercise. The system employs GPS tracking follows usage online. Riders have the option to translate their exercise by how much carbon was offset by choosing not to drive, the number of calories burned, or the amount of gas saved. Already the fleet of bikes have collectively eaten up 56,000 miles, with over 2.5 million calories burned by users. And San Antonio, that’s something you need to lose.

Enthusiasm for bicycling in SA is high at present, but how our bike lanes will be extended a promised eight-fold is yet to be seen. Many of the wider streets, which could easily forfeit area to new bike lanes also run with faster traffic, while slower narrower streets will require more investment to widen. Eventually, San Antonio, like all cities, will have to learn to live with bicycles. That we’re making an effort at all is due to a relentless few, the two-wheel pioneers who still “Keep in Front,” but leave no rider behind. •

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