By Nicole Roberts, Community Outreach Coordinator, St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership
Anyone who’s driven down Central Avenue or Beach Drive in Downtown St. Pete has experienced the struggle of finding parking and navigating the many one-ways. Car-Free St. Pete is encouraging you to skip the struggle and try walking, biking, riding the bus or trolley or even the ferry to get around instead!
This social media movement started by the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership encourages locals to get around downtown without their car with the help of their four transportation partners (Coast Bike Share, Cross Bay Ferry, Downtown Looper, and PSTA). They promote the environmental, health, economic, and community benefits of going car-free through social media and events. Their most recent event, World Car-Free Day, done in partnership with Open Streets St. Pete, was on September 22 from 12-4pm at Green Bench Brewing. At this market style event, they celebrated and educated the many ways people can live, work and play in DTSP car-free.
The name is a bit of a misnomer. “We’re not trying to get rid of cars. We value cars. We drive cars. We understand the importance of cars. But we recognize that in an urban center, cars are not always the most convenient way to get around,” Jason Mathis, CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership said. The truth of the matter is, as our community continues to grow, we need to consider the flow of the community through transportation. The City of St. Petersburg has already begun to consider this, with the passing of the Complete Streets Implementation Plan earlier this year. Car-Free St. Pete wants to serve as a way to change the behavior of those living, working, and playing in the downtown area from driving in individual vehicles to using one of our many, amazing alternative modes of transportation to prepare for this influx of people.