ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bike lanes or parking? Soon, St. Pete city leaders will have to decide which will stay and which will go along the one-way 1st Avenue N and 1st Avenue South downtown.
The city is paving the way for a new Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit line, connecting downtown and Pinellas County beaches with a 30 minute, 17 stop trip. Yet, because the rapid bus will need a dedicated lane of traffic, it means the city will have to get rid of either one lane of parking or a bike lane.
The 11-block area along 1st Avenue North and 1st Avenue South stretches from 20th Street to 31st street through St. Pete's Grand Central District.
It's a debate impacting business owners and visitors.
Lyn Van Voorst, who runs the Clay Center of St. Pete says her vote is for bike lanes.
“Cars speed along here so fast, if we didn’t have bike lanes we would have more bike accidents. We are getting known nationwide as one of the worst for pedestrians and bike accidents, it would be nuts to take them out,” she said.
Paul Eslich says his vote is to keep the parking.
“It seems like right now all these spots are being pretty well utilized. As downtown thrives, we're going to need all the parking we can get,” he added.
City leaders plan to make a final decision by the end of March.