Car-Free St. Pete encouraging beachgoers to ditch their ride, take trolley

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – St. Pete Beach is a beautiful, pristine paradise but as many locals know, it can be a pain to find parking.

Car-Free St. Pete is a collaboration between The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

The organization is looking to open people’s minds to taking different methods of transportation to get to both the beach and to and from downtown St. Petersburg. Those options include Coast Bike Share, the Cross Bay Ferry, the Downtown Looper and PSTA.

“We are excited to kind of open up people’s minds to taking other modes of transportation to the beach. If anyone’s ever tried to go to the beach, we know parking can be a little bit unbearable, looking for parking, paying for parking,” said Whitney Fox, Director of Communications and Marketing for PSTA. “We know a lot of people don’t even know about the Central Avenue Trolley and we thought it would be a really fun idea to do a social and get a big group together and all go together!”

The Central Avenue Trolley runs from downtown St. Pete all the way to the beaches.

Fox said PSTA fares are usually around $2.25, but there is a discount if you pick up the trolley before Grand Central.

Nicole Robert, the community outreach coordinator for the Downtown Partnership told 8 On Your Side’s Daisy Ruth there are many reasons why people should consider taking more car-free trips.

“It’s a lot better for the environment to walk or bike or use public transportation than to take a personal vehicle. Obviously, health-wise, it’s a lot better. There are studies that show that you’re 2 to 5 pounds lighter if you take public transit. It can even be up to 10 pounds if you’re taking a bike rather than using your car,” she said.

Robert said there is a community aspect to car-free trips, as well.

“There are studies that show that more businesses get more traffic when people are walking or biking and they’re more accessible by walking or biking or by public transit than by just your car. Obviously, if there’s a place you want to stop and you can’t find a parking spot, you’re probably not going to go there. But if you can just bike or walk in, you’re more likely to go and stop and spend your money at that business.”

Those who want to hit the beach and leave their ride at home should meet Car-Free St. Pete representatives at the Central Avenue Trolley stop at the corner of Central Avenue and 7th Street North at 10 a.m. Saturday.

As an incentive, the first 50 people to meet at the trolley stop will receive two complimentary drink coupons and a wristband for a free beach lounge chair at Sirata Beach Resort.

Fox said Car-Free St. Pete isn’t about convincing people to completely ditch their cars.

“Like, if you’re going to the beach or going to the store or going to the gym and it’s close by, could you ride your bike? Or could the Central Avenue Trolley get you there? Or maybe Coast Bike Share? Or could you even walk and get those extra steps in? So we’re really trying to celebrate with Car-Free St. Pete all of the ways that you can get around downtown St. Pete,” she said. “And really, you do have that freedom with all of the options to choose from instead of being forced to drive your car everywhere you go.”

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