St. Pete Mayor takes a ride with Coast Bike Share ahead of its official launch

Coast Bike Share will celebrate its official launch of 300 bikes at 30 hubs downtown in St. Petersburg with a group ride on Saturday, February 4.

During a 1:06:49-hour ride over a total of 2.38 miles, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman led a small group of riders through downtown St. Petersburg, the Warehouse Arts District and the Deuces earlier this week to tout Coast Bike Share, which opens to the public on Saturday.

Similar to the program that launched in Tampa in 2014, the new bike share allows pedestrians to rent bicycles for a fee to get to a nearby locale, assuming it has a bike station where the rented bicycle can be secured. The idea is to offer an affordable alternative means of transportation that allows people get around the city easily without a car.

"What I love about all these locations is [that] it gives everyone an opportunity to get out of their cars and get on a bike. It fits with our vision statement of being a city of opportunities,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “People want to be in the cities where they have bike shares.” 

Planning for this system began in June of 2016, after the city purchased the equipment and hired Coast operator, with a demo install of 100 green bikes at ten stations in St. Pete in November. Coast Bike Share will celebrate its official release on Saturday, February 4, with Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin.

Besides Tomalin, members of City Council and the Coast crew will join a community bike trek through downtown and along the city’s Healthy St. Pete Loop. The ride will culminate at the opening of the event Localtopia 2017 at Williams Park.

The launch forms part of the initiatives to offer residents and visitors a multitude of transportation options. It coincides with the new Cross-Bay Ferry, which connects Tampa and St. Petersburg, a collaboration among Pinellas and Hillsborough counties as well as the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, currently under a six-month trial stage that ends in April.

At either end of the ferry line, riders can find bicycles to get around popular areas in those cities.

Tampa has Coast Bike Share hubs around downtown, Ybor City, Davis Islands, Hyde Park and along Bayshore Boulevard. In both cases, bicycles are secured between rides and tracked via GPS to prevent theft.

For those who rely on public transit, the bikes can be a big help.

Is not a secret that Pinellas’ transportation network gets criticized because of a small number of routes and unstable service. Trip length is also an issue. A journey that will take 14 minutes by a car and 28 minutes on a bike takes 44 minutes on the bus, without counting the waiting time at the station.

In south St. Petersburg, the situation gets worse, as many who reside there live in poverty-like conditions, and grocery stores and entertainment options far from home. Most of those who commute to work are obligated to make it via public transportation.

According to the city staff, in the first 90 days, St. Pete has achieved over 12,000 miles ridden, 4,400 trips and the reduction of 10,560 lbs. of carbon. They plan to expand the system, with around 2,500 bikes throughout the region as demand grows.

How does it work?

The full bike share program roll out welcomes 300 blue bikes to 30 hub stations around downtown. Riders can choose from a variety of options to suit their needs including Pay-As-You-Go – picking up and dropping off bikes as they need to for $8 per hour – or a $15 monthly membership, which comes with 60 minutes of daily ride time. Residents can also purchase, in, a $79 annual membership – $59 for students – for 60 minutes of daily ride time.

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