The fourth annual Open Streets St. Pete event was held on Sunday, October 20. The streets were closed to traffic along Bayshore Drive SE and Dan Wheldon Way in Downtown St. Petersburg, allowing attendees to bike, walk, hula hoop, skate, and otherwise enjoy these roadways free of cars. Dan Wheldon way runs along Albert Whitted Park, which overlooks Tampa Bay, providing great water views for the event and Bayshore Drive SE cycletrack is part of the “Healthy St. Pete Loop.”
Members of the Bike/Walk Tampa Bay coalition provided safety education, installed lights on bikes, and fitted helmets on riders at the event. Additional exhibitors set up booths along the road for attendees to play games or learn about local initiatives, including Car Free St. Pete, a movement to get people out of their cars and using other modes of transportation.
Throughout the country and the world, cities are hosting “ciclovia” or “open streets” events that allow people to use what is often a city’s largest public space––the streets––for active forms of transportation, fun activities, and events, providing participants with a new perspective of their city. Typically, streets located in a unique part of a community are closed to automotive traffic for an afternoon or day, and the general public are invited, free of charge, to enjoy a safe and fun opportunity to walk, stroll, skate, bike, skateboard, wheelchair, or just hang out.
Open Streets St. Pete was started by numerous St. Petersburg residents, including advocates Cesar Morales and Les Lloyd, along with members of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Co-op, ShiftStPete, and AARP. The group’s continuing goal is to provide public access to St Petersburg streets and roadways for active transportation, exploration, and fun.