San Antonio is becoming a comfortable landscape for cyclists, with the growing development of trails and bike lanes across the hill country. Some organisations have taken advantage of this growth to push for more bike facilities, education, and diversity in riding.
In honour of National Bike Month, SATX Social Ride held their "San Antonio Cyclists Solidarity Ride" to celebrate healthy living, cycling safety, and education, on 10 May.
Thanks to organisers Jeff Moore and Yvette Hernandez, SATX Social Ride is "riding the wave" of this expanding bike culture with their Tuesday rides around the city.
"All of a sudden, people just started riding downtown as the city invested in green trails... so that gave us a really cool opportunity to ride in a protected environment," Moore said.
According to Moore, in the early 2000s, San Antonio saw a spike in people moving downtown and intensifying the bike culture. However, it's not just the number of cyclists that has grown since that time.
SATX Social Ride conducted a survey to study the demographics of their riders. According to the results, 42% of their riders are women, a large number compared to other cycling communities in Texas. Bike League's 2012 "Where We Ride" report, on the analysis of biking in American cities, named 8 cities with a women cycling population of over 50%. Lubbock was the only Texas city in that group.
With a 42% population of female riders in SATX Social Ride, San Antonio's moving closer to that list.
"It was a little more than a year ago, we planned where women would be in charge of the first ride of the month," Hernandez said. "Since then, I've noticed more and more women coming out, or being empowered to say they can do this because they see us out there."
According to Hernandez, there are many groups in town that create spaces for women to become more active members of the cycling community. Organisations like Women on Wheels conduct workshops for women to learn about bike maintenance.
"Our main goal is just to promote safety," Hernandez said. "We want the city to do more for bike riders as far as bike lanes. But we also want to promote what cycling should look like."
San Antonio is just one small chain on the wheels of progress for biking communities in the United States. Bike League's 2014 "Where We Ride" report demonstrated the massive growth of cycling as a sport and as a means of travel in the nation.
While San Antonio is not among the top 20 cities with the highest number of cyclists, it is ranked number 30 for cities with the fastest growing number of bike commuters in the country. According to the report, the city grew 109% from 2000 to 2014.
In comparison, Dallas started out with a similar population of cyclists and has only grown 71% since 2000. Austin has a much larger population of cyclists, but has grown only 44% since 2000.
Despite the numbers, cycling is undeniably part of San Antonio's culture and lifestyle. SATX Social Ride partners with non-profits such as Earn A Bike and Ride for Reading to use cycling as a means of empowerment for seniors, disadvantaged children, and lower-income school.
According to Moore, Ride for Reading coordinates with elementary schools that are in dire need of help. They ride into the school and get the kids to take the pledge to read more and invest their time in books.
Earn A Bike uses a similar tactic of bringing bikes into the lives of children. President of Earn A Bike, Christian Sandoval, talked about their program "Kids Earn A Bike" where kids are put to work for 12 hours to learn about responsibility and safety.
"It teaches accountability and also builds their self-esteem," Moore said.
In the end, the kids get to keep the bikes they worked on.
For more information on the organisations involved in the solidarity ride, visit their Facebook pages below.