On June 17, 2017, a group of fifty residents, business owners, and St. Petersburg City Council Vice-Chair Lisa Wheeler-Bowman gathered at Crescent Lake Park for the “BlockbyBlock” ride in St. Petersburg. The ride was a six mile tour of existing and proposed bike routes. Eventually, the routes will connect communities and open up travel opportunities, helping people who ride bikes in the city to get exactly where they need to be.
“When you drive, you know there are going to be continuous and connected roads all the way to your destination,” says Lisa Frank, campaign organizer with the Florida Consumer Action Network. “Imagine if you could also head out on your bike and have comfortable, safe connections anywhere you wanted to go.”
The ride was led by the advocacy group ShiftStPete and the Florida Consumer Action Network as part of the city’s Complete Streets initiative. The goal is to plan, build, and operate streets to be safe, accessible, and connective for all modes of transportation. “Today when I bike with my granddaughter, she can only go up and down the sidewalk which isn’t much fun,” shared council member Wheeler-Bowman. “I want her to be able to explore the whole city- Complete Streets is part of making that possible.”
The ride started at Crescent Lake Park and headed along 1st Street South to 1st Avenue South, a connection that reaches the Pinellas Trail. Protected bike lanes are also envisioned for 6th Avenue South and the Innovation District. The ride continued to Roser Park before completing the loop back to Crescent Lake Park.
Vanessa Wheeler, executive director of ShiftStPete, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization that co-hosted the ride, hopes to see more greenways and protected bike lanes in St. Petersburg soon. “It’s really exciting to see a city and community be mutually invested in coming together to examine what Complete Streets can mean for St. Petersburg,” said Wheeler. “The level of excitement for this event affirmed we’re on the right track in advocating for better biking and walking in St. Petersburg.”