St. Pete bike lanes to grow, parking spaces cut

St. Petersburg is now known globally as a city to push the envelope on eco-friendly issues, and that’s just fine with Neal Norton, the owner of a bike shop on First Avenue S.  A green city means more cash flow for his business. 

“Our shop is located right on a major bike route,” Neal said. 

St. Pete plans to add nine more miles of bike lanes this year as part of a plan calling for 30 miles over the next decade.

This follows a damning Wall Street Journal report last year which found Tampa Bay, more specifically Pinellas County, as the deadliest place to ride a bike because of the high number of accidents.

“As we’ve put in more bike lanes, the average number of fatalities has gone down,” said Evan Mory the city’s transportation director. 

There is an organization protesting St. Pete’s bike lane plans.  Dr. Ed Carlson, who heads up Citizens Against Lane Loss, says the group is concerned that, as the city’s population grows, reducing motorist lanes for bike lanes will lead to further congestion. 

“It’s the mayor and the head of transportation, who doesn’t have an engineering degree, they are imposing this whole thing on the city,” Carlson said. 

His group is even angrier over a plan to ditch close to 100 parking spaces and keep bike lanes to make way for a rapid bus lane on First Avenue North from 20th to 31st Street.

“We are all for it done right, which is on the side of the road on a bike path, rather than a lane in the street for just a few bikers,” Carlson added. 

Mayor Rick Kriseman’s office has made it clear bike lanes will only grow.  There’s even an initiative by several different transportation organizations encouraging many drivers to try and go “car free.”

Editor’s Note: Evan Morey was misquoted in this version of the story. It has since been updated.