Walking on SoFlo: A Photo Journal

Outside of San Antonio’s immediate downtown, few corridors have the potential to be a great street the way South Flores does. For those unfamiliar, SoFlo is a 4-laner that runs north-south, sitting halfway between Interstate 10/35 and the San Antonio River.

Today, South Flores is a hodgepodge of buildings and uses, and its pedestrian environment is just as varied. Along the 1-mile walk between my office and the VIA Express bus stop downtown, there’s a collection of loft apartment buildings, light industry, law offices, a child care center, a Crossfit gym, a parking garage for the County Courthouse, several surface parking lots, and numerous vacant properties. It is also home to the HEB headquarters, where there will soon be the city’s first true downtown grocery store in a long time (Hooray!).

My walk started at a skewed 5-way intersection, where nearly all the corner buildings are vacant. The exception is a local tire shop whose adjacent converted trailer spews a burnt-rubber-smelling smoke at various points throughout the day. Healthy, I’m sure. A friend says it reminds him of Breaking Bad. Anyway, heading north from the suspected meth lab (kidding!), I approached a set of railroad tracks with what has to be one of the worst bus stop locations I’ve ever experienced:
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Thankfully, the rest of my walk wasn’t as bad as the photo above, but as you’ll see in the following photos, this stretch of SoFlo ranges from inhospitable to acceptable.
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See that sign pointing to North Spur 536? There’s a pedestrian crossing signal behind it.
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I’m not sure what the story is with this sidewalk sandwiched between a car prison and a sandy beach.
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All but one of the retail spaces at 1010 South Flores remain vacant, despite being complete for more than a year.
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While dirt covering sidewalk curb ramps is common in San Antonio, this is definitely the worst example of erosion I’ve seen.
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One of several vacant buildings for sale or lease along South Flores.
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Beautiful buildings like this one tend to get lost among the clutter of surface parking lots and other nondescript commercial structures.
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I’m not sure what this place is, but watch for cars backing directly over the sidewalk. This is definitely unsafe.
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I’m told there are politics involved in the existence of this brand new separated bike way. But I’ll take it. My only question, though, is why weren’t these switched so that bikes would be on the right?
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I have so many questions about the design of this corner. For starters, why are the truncated domes (those bumpy things at the ramps) different colors?
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I believe these sharrows were just recently installed on South Flores, just north of Cesar Chavez Street.
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It’s not until after you cross north of Cesar Chavez Street that you find your first recycling bin. Notice more vacant retail space, seemingly managed by the same group who manages the commercial space at 1010 South Flores.
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Here’s where we enter paid parking territory. In reality, there’s much more space for cars along this stretch than there is for people.
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In fact, this whole block is dedicated to parking.
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If we adapted this corner to be more hospitable to humans, this could be a pretty cool destination.
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One of the first diagonal crosswalks I’ve seen, and it is well used. Unfortunately, that is because people are heading from the courthouse to their cars.
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More great architecture that is lost behind decades of blank-walled buildings. I’m not even gonna talk about that sign.
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BCycle is just one of the great amenities gracing greater downtown. February temps in the 70s mean the system is well used.
Even though South Flores doesn’t make for the best walking experience in San Antonio, it still beats sitting in that awful traffic on I-10. Even if the bus eventually drops me off here:
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