As a first-grader from Victoria, Texas, on a field trip to Sea World, I wanted someday to return to San Antonio so I could go on a date on the River Walk. Little did I know that I’d get to come to college here and actually be proposed to on one of the downtown footbridges.
San Antonio has always had a unique allure. It oozes fun, historic culture and romance. And now I get to work here doing one of the best jobs (I think) that exists: transportation planning for bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s an opportunity to improve people’s experience getting around the city – on two wheels or two feet – which are both excellent ways to travel from point A to point B while experiencing the community around you in a way that you can’t while in a car.
Indeed, I did a lot of traversing from points A through B, and I’ll admit L, M, N, O, P to get where I am today. Had you asked me in May 2008 when I graduated from Trinity where I’d be five years down the road, there’s no way I’d have been able to tell you I’d be on a B-cycle going between meetings about a walkable community workshop and bike rodeo.
First off, I’d never heard of the agency that currently employees me, the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
In case you didn’t happen to discuss the MPO in depth while in the pasta line at Mabee either, it is an agency that the federal government requires to form whenever an urban area has at least 50,000 residents. Its job becomes the long-range planning for that area’s regional transportation system, and it guides the selection of transportation projects that will receive funding from federal and state gas taxes.
Secondly, I didn’t know I could be doing what I’m doing. While I dabbled in my fair share of Trinity’s academic and extracurricular options, from a Jane Austen seminar to genetics, I somehow managed to graduate while eluding any introduction to the urban studies program, the field I eventually discovered and returned to school for a master’s in after a few years of alumni status. It turns out, now is a very exciting time to be in the urban planning field. After decades of practices that have led to the suburban sprawl in which many of us grew up, downtowns and urban lifestyles are making a comeback. Texans are reported to be driving fewer miles per person since 2000, led by millennials and empty-nesters looking for more options than the car to get them around. It’s a cultural shift that arguably has environmental, economic, health and safety benefits and is demanding we reconsider the design and function of our public spaces, including our roadway network.
Earlier this year, as I was approaching graduation from my master’s program at Texas A&M in College Station, I imagined starting fresh and going anywhere that would offer me a job. I quickly realized no matter where I ended up, I’d always be checking MySA.com (and the Trinitonian!) for updates on San Antonio. Lucky for me, my husband and fellow ’08 alum, Nick, loves SA as much as I do, and we ended up taking a leap and buying a house in time for Fiesta.
Simply put, there is just no other community whose future I can spend a career planning. From the Mission Reach Trail to its SA2020 vision, its first-in-Texas bike share system and the upcoming redevelopment of Hemisfair Park, the city is on a roll.
If you are, too, (rolling on your two wheels, that is) don’t forget your helmet! And enjoy the ride.
Allison Blazosky (formally Hyde) graduated in 2008 with a degree in english. She is now the Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation Planner for the Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization.