Sunday, September 10, 2017

San Antonio BCycle

Apparently, I never told you about our trip to San Antonio last year.  Debbie had a conference down there, and I tagged along for a few days. San Antonio is famous for its River Walk which is cool and all that, but Spokane has an actual river running through it (which we have tried to hide partly behind a behemoth Convention Center). Ok, got that little bit of civic rivalry out of the way.

Like Spokane, San Anton had a world's fair - the HemisFair '68 - and they got a Space Needle like structure out of the deal.  Gotta admit, better than our pavilion. San Antonio has better margaritas, which help with the heat and high humidity there in late September.  Oh yeah San Antonio has the Alamo. And nearby missions, which you can visit following the Mission Trail via hiking, biking, or <gasp> motorized vehicle.

The River Walk. Lots of good food and humidity. No swimming. 

Another thing San Antonio has is a bike share program called San Antonio BCycleBCycle is a company that runs bike share programs in quite a few cities in the US of A.  Here's a map of the cities they operate in - maybe they'd like to add Spokane to the list.

One day we walked over to the Alamo, where I checked out a bike station:

And the Alamo:

The next day we bought a 24 hour pass for $12 at a station close to our hotel and the Riverwalk. San Antonio's bike share is based on trips under an hour,  "Designed for short trips and quick adventures around town". After checking out a bike, you have to dock it again at another station (or the same) within 60 minutes, otherwise you're charged an extra $2.  We had handy maps of the system, and our plan was to ride to a couple of the 4 Missions on the Mission Trail.  It's about a 16 mile ride to visit all four. After coffee and breakfast, we started out on our not so quick adventure.

On the street to connect to the walk/bike path to the first mission

The bikes are clunkers, but fun to ride.  I fit my backpack in the basket up front.

On the Mission Reach section of the River Walk.  Once out of the city, the San Antonio river looks like a real river.

Here's where I should insert a picture of the first Mission we stopped at, Mission Concepcion.

Except I can't find any.  Maybe I backed them up to external drive and am too lazy to find them, or maybe I let Debbie do the Mission pic taking.  We docked our bikes, looked around, and undocked them using the same debit card we used to buy the pass.  Then we started on our way to Mission San Jose, a little mindful of our 60 minute window.  But it turns out we didn't need to worry, as we always made it to next BCycle station with time to spare.

After Mission San Jose I thought maybe we could turn around...but we couldn't just go that far and not see the other two missions.

The rest of the story: we made it to the other two missions, and ran out of water on the way back.  It was a very hot day, and we stopped at a park to refill our bottles.   Docked our bikes, couldn't get any water out of the water fountain.  Saw a little stray kitten I wanted to take home, but that wasn't happening.  

Went to undock the bikes, and my card didn't quite slide in right.  Couldn't undock the bikes. Looked at the bus schedule, couldn't figure it out.  I called BCycle and in short order they sent a van over with some water.  After fiddling with the card reader for a bit, he was able to open up the docks and get bikes out for us.  He said sometimes people put gum in the slots or other stuff, but this one he wasn't sure why it wasn't working.  Good quick response for us dehydrated tourists.  Back on the road, there was another station within a few blocks we could've walked to if we had to.  We made it back to town, and stopped in a little coffee shop that had the best lemonade.

Since we didn't rent a car during our visit, the BCycle was a great way to get around and see more of the city than we would've on foot.  We told a husband of one of Debbie's co-wprkers who was also along, and the next day he got a pass and went all over town.

Back in Spokane, the city has an $80,000 federal grant to study and design a system (see Spokesman-Review article).  There's talk of starting with stations downtown in Riverfront Park and Kendall Yards. Being a downtown office worker, I'd like this.  I walk over to Kendall Yards sometimes for lunch, and this would be a quicker and easy way to get there, without having to haul my bike down from the office.

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