In honor of World Car-Free Day, all routes on Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) buses and trolleys are completely free all day Friday, September 22.
Friday, September 22 is World Car-Free Day, and some of our favorite local institutions are joining in to commemorate the occasion. On Friday night, the advocacy group Car-Free St. Pete is celebrating with a community event from 7-9 pm at Green Bench Brewing Co. In addition to great beer and fun socializing, the evening includes the debut of a new ad by Car-Free St. Pete showcasing the city’s friendliness to the car-less and highlight the car free movement’s success. The ad will appear on social media channels and through targeted ads on YouTube and streaming platforms like Hulu.
To make it even easier to get to the fun at Green Bench (or anywhere in Pinellas County), PSTA is waiving fares on all of their routes this Friday. The initiative is part of the transit authority’s ongoing goals to help lower emissions from cars and encourage mindful sustainability among county residents.
And looking ahead, the Cross-Bay Ferry is hosting a pair of Car-Free Baycation tours. One in St. Pete will start at Saturday Morning Market followed by a bike ride down the Pinellas Trail, while one in Tampa will explore the city’s iconic landmarks and neighborhoods, including Ybor, Downtown, Channel District, and Hyde Park.
Pedestrian mobility makes downtown St. Pete a star
One of the reasons downtown St. Pete is a hive of activity for restaurants, retail and residential life is the density of its downtown and the close proximity of vibrant neighborhoods, making St. Pete one of the few places in Florida where a person can live without a car.
Car-Free St. Pete was formed in 2019 by St. Pete’s Downtown Partnership to encourage the community and its leaders to make thoughtful transportation choices, improving health, safety, the environment, and quality of life. Nicole Roberts is the Community Engagement Manager at the Downtown Partnership and oversees the program.
Describing Car-Free St. Pete she said, “Over the last four years, Car-Free St. Pete has been dedicated to encouraging locals to go car-free and advocating for improved ways to do so.”
The organization has formed important partnerships with PSTA, VEO, Lime, the Cross-Bay Ferry and the Downtown Looper, and works to raise awareness of the ways residents and visitors can navigate the city without a car. They also support improvements to infrastructure that make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other users of alternative transit to share our streets with automobiles.
Car-Free St. Pete envisions pedestrians and drivers existing side by side
Drivers, have no fear: Car-Free St. Pete isn’t advocating for the eradication of cars. They recognize that pedestrian-friendly design and the support of mass transit (like the SunRunner) and micro-mobility options (like scooters and bikes) make St. Pete a more pleasant place to live. The Car-Free St. Pete website features an interactive map showing the locations of transit and micro-mobility options.
Being car-free is good for business. St. Pete’s walkable downtown is a major draw for tourists, employers, and residents alike. But it wasn’t always like it is today. For decades, America adapted itself to cars, often at the expense of people. During the 1960s and ’70s, most of St. Pete’s downtown streets were made one way, resulting in increased speeds that hurt businesses and created an environment that pedestrians avoided. Car-Free St. Pete asks people, businesses and governments to think about how to make streetscapes safer and more inviting to people.
The World Car-Free Day event will exhibit one of PSTA’s new buses along with other green methods of transit. Roberts said, ”We are so excited to celebrate all our great alternative transportation options including the new SunRunner bus rapid transit route and Lime’s rentable e-bikes on World Car-Free Day this year by premiering our commercial, which highlights the people of St. Pete using these different options to go #CarFreeStPete.”