ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Around the globe, cities are celebrating Car-Free Day. In London, more than 12 miles of roadway in the heart of the city were shut down for activities, biking and walking.
St. Petersburg participated for the first time ever this weekend and local businesses showed their support by offering discounts to those who opted to leave the car at home. As the city continues to grow, alternative options for transportation are increasingly attractive and necessary.
“I’m sure anyone who’s been to St. Pete recently has seen all of the growth and development going on here. And of course, we are a built out peninsula, and there is only so much space for so many cars,” said Whitney Fox, director of marketing and communications for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.
The goal is to get people to put down the car keys and pick up a bike, ride the bus or simply walk for both environmental and health reasons.
“Going car free just takes a little bit more planning, and can be a lot more convenient. So we are just trying to preach that word, and get people to try it. You know, get on the bus, get that anxiety over with, see how it goes," said Nicole Roberts, the community outreach coordinator for St. Pete Downtown Partnership.
"And you know, try going car free, it might be more convenient for you to get around downtown without your car."
For some, like avid biker Vanessa Wheeler, this inaugural Car-Free Day is a great sign.
“I actually moved here in 2013, and I came from Portland, Oregon. And one of the reasons why I picked St. Pete, besides really loving the climate and the vibe, was because I saw the potential of getting around by bike and by walking and not needing to have a car," said Wheeler, who serves as a bicycle and pedestrian advocate for Pedal Power.
Wheeler hasn't owned a car for the past three years, but she also understands the danger that comes with sharing the road. So far in 2019, 20 people have been hit and killed in Tampa and St. Pete alone.
“Because we are so bike friendly and it’s still in a transitioning space, there’s a lot of opportunity for the public, both drivers, walkers, and bicyclists to learn more about what it means to safely engage in those activities as well as how to safely share the streets with one another," Wheeler said.
However, cyclists like Wheeler are confident that the city of St. Petersburg is traveling in the right direction.
“It’s been a great transition. We are still in transition, but we are at least going that way,” Wheeler said.
Those who participated in Car-Free Day used the hashtag #CarFreeStPete to get special deals at partnering businesses.
Around the world, more than 2,000 cities took part in Car-Free Day.
Here's a list of deals being offered for #CarFreeStPete weekend, if you use the hashtag on a social media post:
- Green Bench Brewing Co. : $1 off every pint 🍺
- Truffula: $5 off Truffula insulated drink tumbler, 10% off sustainable clothing, and 15% off compostable cell phone cases ♻️
- Wild Roots: 15% off plants 🌱
- Squeeze Juice Works: A dollar off a smoothie
- Fabrica Pizza - St. Pete: $5 off a $20 purchase 🍕
- Love Food Central: 10% off 🍽️
- The Refillery St. Pete: Get a free straw with any purchase over $15 OR $5 off purchases of $30 or more ♻️
- Swah-rey at 625 Central Ave: $1 off a 8 Minis or $1 off a Frose’ in either of our two flavors: Rose or Sangria
- Swah-rey at 2105 Central Ave: $1 off a 8 Minis
- Salt-Light ART: 15% off 🎨
- Graphi-ko Gallery/ Jewelry: 10% off 💎
- Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida: 10% off at The MFA Store 🎨
- Brass Bowl Kitchen & Juicery: 10% off 🥣
- Numex Chile: 20% off entire bill, food and drink 🌮
- St Pete Run Fest: 5% off on 9/22 with the promo code Nocar-Run 🏃
- Trophy Fish: $4 draught beers 🍺
- Laughing Heart Massage: 10% off 💆
- Sea Salt St. Pete: 1 FREE appetizer with the purchase of 1 full priced lunch or dinner entrée 🍽️
- Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails: 10% off beverages including cocktails 🍸
- Central Melt: $1.00 off any grilled cheese
- Frescos Waterfront Bistro: 15% off 🍽
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