April 03, 2004
I go out walking

I lived in San Antonio for four years while in college. It's a great city, someplace I'd seriously consider living if I had to leave Houston, but I can't honestly say I've ever thought of it as a good city to walk in.

Mayor Ed Garza hiked four miles to work Friday along a route that featured aged, often crumbling sidewalks, one or two makeshift foot trails and several malfunctioning crosswalks.

The 75-minute trek came a day after Garza accepted an award designating San Antonio as one of the best cities for walking.

"Although some see us as an ideal walking city," Garza said, "we still have a lot of work to do."

He started down a stretch of San Antonio Avenue that has no sidewalks. Garza's modest olive-green home sits on a corner lot north of Woodlawn Lake Park.

The mayor staged the walk to support National Walk to Work Day.

Prevention magazine and the American Podiatric Medical Association named San Antonio one of the 12 best cities for walking because of air quality, 157 miles of natural creekways and varied topography.

But in many areas, hoofing it from home to work proves frustrating because of cracked or nonexistent sidewalks and bad street conditions. The long-standing problem: The city has little money for streets and sidewalks.

As a result, shabby infrastructure often tops the list of complaints to City Council members.

I guess if your criteria is interesting places to walk, San Antonio is up there. But I have to say, the first real instance of culture shock I experienced as a transplanted New Yorker was the realization, as I was walking from the Trinity campus to check out a B&B off Broadway north of Hildebrand in Alamo Heights, that there weren't any sidewalks. Seeing deer and antelope playing on the campus amidst roaming buffalo would have been less of a shock to me.

Anyway, SA suffers from a certain amount of Houston-itis in that it is rapidly expanding outward, a lot of people live in cul-de-sacs where there's one route to a highway or main road, and as noted, there's a real lack of sidewalks. They're pretty much heading to where we are now. I get boggled by how much farther out things are now compared to when I was there, and there's no sign of any slowing down on that front.

By the way, someone needs to explain to me just how San Antone got on this list. I only see ten cities listed here, and the River City doesn't even appear to be in their readers' poll. What's up with that?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 03, 2004 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack